The Scoop on Granular Fertilizers


There are many variables to consider when choosing lawn fertilizer, like which application is best, which nutrients your lawn needs, or when is the best time to apply lawn fertilizer.

Granular fertilizer is one choice to consider.

Lawn care ingredients and ratios can be overwhelming, but they don't have to be. In this guide, we'll dissect the pros and cons of granular fertilizers so that you can make the best lawn care decisions for your yard.

Understanding Granular Fertilizer

Yellow House with Fertilized Lawn

Granular fertilizer is a reliable, dry pellet form of fertilizer that will nourish and feed your lawn when equipped with the proper nutrient blend. Granular fertilizer is the result of natural or synthetic nutrients taking shape in pellet form. Depending on the ingredients, this type of fertilizer can typically be slow-release, meaning it takes time to break down into a more liquid state that the soil can absorb. There are different reasons you might choose a slow-release fertilizer; it depends on your lawn's needs and how established it is. 

Granular fertilizer also requires spreading equipment in an attempt to distribute the nutrient-rich pellets onto grass equally. The process of granular fertilization differs significantly from that of a liquid fertilizer application. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Fertilizer

Lawn care products are not equally beneficial. One type of lawn fertilizer won't work for every lawn. We've listed some different factors that will help you pick the right type of fertilizer for solving your specific lawn care issues:

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  • Slow-release vs. fast absorption
  • Nutrient distribution and even application
  • Equipment requirements and ease-of-use
  • Salt content

Lawn fertilizers typically contain one of or a blend of these macronutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Different lawn fertilizers will have a varying blend of each of these nutrients, so you can choose a fertilizer suitable for tackling your specific lawn care challenges.

Maintaining grass health and treating underlying nutrient deficiencies will require very different lawn fertilizers.  It is important to heavily consider all of the issues you have with your lawn, as well as the outcome you would like to achieve.

Slow-Release vs. Fast Absorption

The solid pellets of granular fertilizer take time to break down to achieve proper nutrient absorption, which can be beneficial in some instances. Watering or a timed application in line with rain is required after granular fertilizer application to help with this process. With granular fertilizer, you may run the risk of missing certain areas of your lawn or seeing uneven results as lawn fertilizer pellets break down at different speeds. 

If these risks deter you from using granular fertilizer, fast-absorbing may be the right option for you. Liquid fertilizer is already in a liquid state upon application so that you can reap the benefits of quick nutrient absorption.

Nutrient Distribution and Even Application

Red fertilizer spreader

When it comes to lawn fertilizers, nutrient distribution plays an impactful role. With liquid fertilizer, the nutrient content is homogeneous, allowing for equal distribution during lawn care application.  Sometimes with granular fertilizer, each granule comprises individual nutrient components that may not give an even, homogenous application when used. 

Equipment Requirements and Overall Ease-of-Use

It is possible to distribute granular fertilizer by other means, such as by hand, but this does not equate to an equal distribution. To apply granular correctly, you must use a fertilizer spreader. 

adult spraying liquid fertilizerLiquid fertilizer application does not require any fancy equipment for lawn care applications. With liquid lawn care products, you can ditch the added cost of lawn equipment and save yourself time, energy, and shed space. To apply liquid fertilizer, attach your bottle of fertilizer to your hose, turn on the hose, and start distributing the liquid fertilizer. With a thorough but straightforward lawn watering application, you will be on your way to healthy, green grass using liquid fertilizer.

Watching Out for High Salt Content

Too much salt content in a lawn fertilizer can lead to grass dehydration, lack of nutrient penetration, and grass burns. Granular fertilizers tend to have a higher salt content compared to the salt content in liquid fertilizers.

You don't have to worry much about salt interfering with the nutrient-release and distribution process with liquid lawn fertilizer. If you live in an area prone to higher salt content in your lawn, like Florida, you can opt for salt-tolerant grass and use a lawn fertilizer with high salt contents very sparingly and cautiously.

When to Use Granular Fertilizer

Like all lawn care products, granular fertilizer has a place and time for best use.

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Granular fertilizers work well for established lawns and lawns that are entering colder seasons of dormancy. Because of the slow release of nutrients, granular fertilizer is best for spreading the nutrients out over a prolonged period for long-term results. Though you may not see much top-growth during these months, the fertilizer works to nourish the roots and prepare them for adverse weather. Choosing a granular fertilizer will give you more options when it comes to the size, shape, and weight of the fertilizer you are looking to apply.

Opting for Liquid Fertilizer

If you find yourself leaning toward an easy lawn care application, liquid lawn fertilizer is an excellent option for your lawn care needs. With quick absorption, fast results, and no tools required, liquid lawn fertilizer is as easy as watering your lawn.


Simple Lawn Solutions
Simple Lawn Solutions

Hello Bryan,
Please send us an email at
Thank you!

Bryan Stevens
Bryan Stevens

Extension service analyzed my soil and instructed to apply 16-4-8 “6 lbs per 1,000sq. ft”.
I have very small front yd. Less than 600 sq ft.
How much Simple Lawn Solution 16-4-8 is this?

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