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University of Minnesota Extension

Fertilizing lawns

Quick facts

  • Fertilizers add nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to the soil to help plant growth.
  • On every bag of fertilizer, you will find an analysis of the nutrients in the fertilizer.
  • Natural and manufactured fertilizers have different characteristics.
  • All types of fertilizer can contribute to pollution, if used incorrectly.
  • Spot treating weeds may be more effective than using a weed-and-feed product over your entire lawn.

All fertilizers add nutrients to the soil to help plant growth. Natural and manufactured fertilizers have different qualities, but it is necessary to take precautions when using either of them.

When properly applied, fertilizers pose few risks to humans or animals.

If used correctly, fertilizers can help you improve and maintain your lawn. Healthy lawns limit erosion, cool the environment and control allergens, among many other benefits.

See Environmental benefits of healthy lawns.

Fertilizing basics


Fertilizer FAQs


Weed-and-feed products

“Weed-and-feed” products are lawn fertilizers mixed with herbicides designed to save time in lawn care. Take special care when using fertilizer-herbicide combinations.


Sam Bauer, P.G. Johnson and D.B. White

Reviewed in 2018

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