How to Feed a Warm-Season Lawn

Warm-season lawns such as those made of Bermuda grass, zoysia grass or St. Augustine grass need to be fed with nitrogen fertilizer on a regular basis to stay green, healthy and problem-free.


  1. Calculate your lawn’s general square footage to determine the correct amount of fertilizer to buy and the proper rate of application.
  2. Identify the type of grass you have and how much fertilizer needs to be applied.
  3. Decide which type of fertilizer ‘ granular or liquid, fast-acting or slow-release, organic or non-organic ‘ is best for your lawn. Granular fertilizers with a mixture of fast and slow-acting nitrogen usually are best.
  4. Adjust the setting on a push-type drop spreader (the fertilizer falls straight out of the bottom).
  5. Fill the spreader with fertilizer. Do this on a hard surface like a driveway or path so you can easily clean up spills.
  6. Make a pass around the outside of the lawn with the spreader, pulling the handle to release the fertilizer. Let go of the handle when you stop. Walk at a normal speed.
  7. Apply fertilizer to the rest of the lawn by pushing the spreader back and forth between the edges. Overlap the wheel tracks of the spreader as you make your passes.
  8. Close the spreader, turn, then reopen where the vertical strips meet the horizontal strips for best coverage.
  9. Water the lawn thoroughly after fertilizing.


  • Instructions on packages of lawn fertilizer will include information on timing and amount to apply as well as the proper setting for your drop spreader.
  • Fertilize warm-season lawns every six to eight weeks from late spring to early fall. Fertilizing later or earlier may harm your lawn or waste fertilizer.
  • Handheld or push-type broadcast spreaders (the fertilizer is sprayed over a wider area) can be used on large lawns, but are harder to use properly.
  • Fertilize less if you are not looking for that “perfect lawn” and don’t mind a few weeds.
  • If you spill fertilizer on the lawn, clean up what you can, then water the spill area heavily.
  • If you live in an area with alkaline soil, using a fertilizer that contains extra iron will help keep your lawn green.
  • Look for loss of color (yellowing or light green as opposed to a healthy, darker green) and loss of vitality as signs that your lawn may need a boost


  • Over-fertilizing can burn the lawn and make it susceptible to insects and diseases. It can also pollute water supplies.
  • Under-fertilizing will encourage weeds and decrease the attractiveness of your lawn.
  • Never fertilize a dry lawn or fertilize during hot weather.
  • If fertilizer gets on paths or driveway, sweep it up. Don’t wash it into gutters where it will contribute to pollution.
  • Walkways may become stained by some fertilizers. Sweep them clean while still dry.
  • “Weed and Feed” products are used differently from just plain fertilizers. Follow instructions carefully.
  • Wear gloves to keep skin from coming in contact with fertilizer.
  • Avoid breathing fertilizer dust.