grass from overhead shot

DIY Fertilizer: Customize Your Lawn Care


When it comes to lawn care, your fertilizer should be your main priority, but it can be a little intimidating choosing the right type. With our help, you will be able to identify your grass, lawn care needs, and more so you can create the perfect DIY fertilizer regimen for your lawn. It’s easier than you think, so let’s get started!


What Does Grass Fertilizer Do?

Most people know their lawns need fertilizer, but don’t feel bad if you’re not sure exactly what fertilizer does for your lawn. Here at Simple Lawn Solutions, we’ll break it down for you. Fertilizer is, essentially, food for your lawn. It provides nutrients for your lawn to continue to be fertile, so your lawn, plants, and flowers will grow.


Why Does My Lawn Need Fertilizer?

You might be wondering, why isn’t sunlight and water enough for my lawn to grow? Why do I need fertilizer? Well, think of it like this: your body needs protein, vitamins, and carbs to grow, that’s why we tell kids to eat their vegetables. Plants and grass are the same way, they need those specific nutrients to create building blocks to grow taller, thicker, and greener.


Necessary Nutrients in Fertilizer

The main three nutrients plants require are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. With these three nutrients, plants produce amino acids, cell membranes, and ions that are necessary for metabolism. Without fertilizer, these nutrients can only be obtained through the death of another plant – it’s crazy, we know. That dead plant recycles its nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium into the soil for the plants around it to soak up. With the right fertilizer in your lawn care regimen, you can have a lawn full of lush, fed plants.


Identify Your Lawn

Before we can help you create your DIY Fertilizer regimen, you have to identify your lawn. If you’re new to lawn care, it might seem like just grass to you, but there is one distinction you need to know: cool-season grass vs. warm-season grass.

 Green grass with dew close up

Cool-Season Grass

An easy way to identify if your lawn contains cool-season grass is recognizing if it stays green all year long. This usually occurs in the northern United States, but the “Transition Zone,” which is basically the middle plane of the United States, is also a great home for cool-season grass. In these areas, grass grows throughout the year, except in mid-to-late wintertime. If your lawn looks its best in temperatures ranging from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, this is also an indication that your lawn is full of cool-season grass. Here are a few types of grass that are cool-season:

  •       Bentgrass
  •       Kentucky bluegrass
  •       Rough bluegrass
  •       Fine or tall fescue
  •       Annual or perennial ryegrass


Warm-Season Grass

Warm-season grass grows, not surprisingly, in the sun belt area of the United States. The lower and hotter areas of the “Transition Zone” can also have warm-season grass. Warm-season grass lawns thrive in temperatures ranging from 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. In the winter, which could last up to five or six months, the grass stops growing and browns. Here are a few types of grass that are warm-season:

  •       Bermuda
  •       Bahia
  •       Buffalo
  •       Zoysia
  •       St Augustine
  •       Centipede


When to Fertilize

Now that you have identified your grass, the time of the year to fertilize is crucial. For cool-season grasses, your lawn needs to be fertilized three times a year. The recommended times for fertilizing cool-season grass is twice in the fall: September to October. Come springtime, the best time to fertilize is right after the first signs of growth, fertilizing in April or early May.

When it comes to warm-season grasses, your lawn should be fertilized three times, but it’s more dependent on growth than the time of the year. The first round of fertilizing should be when the grass starts to green, which is most likely in early spring but also depends on your lawn. The second round is in late spring. Let the grass sit through the summer, and then in late summer, give your lawn the last dose of fertilizer.


Knowing Your Lawn’s Needs

The signs of deficiency in any of 3 main nutrients will dictate the type of fertilizer you need. Here are the signs:

  •       Nitrogen Deficiency

o   Slow growth, or dormant

o   Light green or pale in color

o   Lack of density/thickness

o   Yellow leaves

  •       Phosphorous Deficiency

o   Lead edges are purple/red/very dark green

o   Reduced growth and density

o   Poor root growth

  •       Potassium Deficiency

o   Yellowing & may appear burnt

o   Little tolerance for hot or cold weather

o   Lawn looks stressed or diseased


Types of Grass Fertilizer

You may have seen fertilizers with three numbers, labeled such as 10-10-10. Those three numbers reflect the composition of the three main nutrients in that fertilizer. Those numbers stand for nitrogen percentage, phosphorous percentage, and potassium percentage in that order. The first number, nitrogen, concentrates on a green and leaf growth. Phosphorous is for root development, while potassium is for plant hardiness.


Customizing Your Fertilizer Regimen

You now know that you either need fertilizer twice in the fall and once in the spring, or, for warm-season grass, twice in the spring, once in the summer. You can mix and match the following fertilizers to meet your lawn care goals, and the timeline of your lawn care regimen.


Spring and Summer Lawn Care

Our 16-4-8 Liquid Lawn Food balances those three key nutrients: nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium. This fertilizer is perfect for the warm-grass fertilizer timeline, and also for that spring fertilizer for cool-grass lawns! Our 15-0-15 Liquid Lawn Food focuses on nitrogen and potassium and is great for areas with phosphorus restrictions. 

This fertilizer should be applied in spring or summer, and would be an effective way to bring a brown warm-grass lawn back to it’s nourished, green state. Our 28-0-0 Liquid Lawn Food focuses on nitrogen. In this formula, 70% of the nitrogen is categorized as quick release, which is absorbed immediately. The other 30% is slow release; this keeps your lawn well-fed and nourished between the three fertilizing sessions of your lawn care regimen!

 Dead grass.

Summer and Fall Lawn Care

Our 3-18-18 Liquid Lawn Fertilizer has a formula with high phosphorous and high potassium. This will aid in root development and plant hardiness helping your lawn through stressful periods of extreme temperatures.


Fall and Winter Lawn Care

Our 0-0-25 Liquid Lawn Food is a great Potassium liquid fertilizer. 



4 Responses

Simple Lawn Solutions
Simple Lawn Solutions

July 02, 2020

Hello SDL, thank you for commenting. Nutrient deficiencies can show up in similar ways. The only way to really know what your soil is deficient in is by a soil test. If you have any additional questions please reach out by email


July 02, 2020

On your article, it says that yellow leaves show a phosphorus deficiency. However, I heard it was that the grass needed some more iron. Or is it both?

Simple Lawn Solutions
Simple Lawn Solutions

April 09, 2020

Hello Tom,
Please email our customer service team for a more customized recommendation for your lawn care needs.


April 09, 2020

What should be put down for recently aerated lawn and over seeded in northeast?

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