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Fertilizing Your Lawn

Proper fertilization is necessary to produce a healthy, high-quality, attractive lawn.

Hot Springs, Ark. – Proper fertilization is necessary to produce a healthy, high-quality, attractive lawn.  The first step in fertilizing your home lawn is to obtain a soil test before applying any nutrients.  A soil test provides key information including soil pH, potassium and phosphorus levels.  Soil testing is free through county Cooperative Extension Service offices. 

Collect soil samples in a bucket from the upper 4 to 6 inches of soil from ten or more locations around the lawn. Remove any vegetative material such as stems and leaves and air dry and mix the samples thoroughly.  Take about 1 pint of the mixture to your county Extension office for analysis.  Soil can be sampled any time of the year, but sampling lawns in late fall or winter will make sure the results will be available before fertilizer is needed in the spring. 

Calculating Your Lawn Area

The next key step in fertilizing your lawn is to determine the size.  This will aid in calculating how much fertilizer and other materials you will need to maintain your lawn.  The best way to do this is to divide your lawn into several squares, rectangles or circles.  Calculate the area of these smaller shapes and then add them together to determine the total size of the lawn. 

The Fertilizer Label

The two most important pieces of information on the fertilizer label are the analysis and the type(s) of nitrogen fertilizer. The fertilizer analysis is a series of three numbers which provides information on the three most important nutrients for plant growth (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium).  The numbers in the fertilizer analysis express the nutrients as the percentage N, available P2O5 and soluble K2O. 

Fertilizer Recommendations

The amount of nitrogen fertilizer required by turf depends on species and various management and environmental/management factors.  Never apply more than 1.0 lb N/1,000 ft2 in any one application unless 50 percent or more of the nitrogen is slow-release.  Do not apply fertilizer more frequently than once monthly unless you are establishing a new lawn. 

The timing of N fertilizer applications depends on the lawn species.  Warm-season turfgrasses such as bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass and zoysiagrass should be fertilized in the summer months when they are actively growing.  Cool-season turfgrass species such as tall fescue should be fertilized mainly in the autumn.  A fertilization in September, November and an application in the spring after the flush of growth (April or May) will result in a healthy turf.  Avoid fertilizing tall fescue in the summer months because of increased risk of the disease brown patch.  Lawns damaged during summer months and newly seeded lawns may need an additional N fertilizer application in October to help with recovery and establishment.  Regardless of species, turf should only be fertilized when it is actively growing.  Therefore, do not fertilize lawns during winter months on warmseason turf and during drought with any species. 

For more information, contact the Garland County Extension Office at 623-6841 or 922-4703, email Jimmy Driggers at, or visit our website:

 EHC Information

Are you interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? EHC is the largest volunteer organization in the state. For information on EHC call 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email

Master Gardeners

If you’re interested in becoming a Master Gardener and would like more information, you’re welcome to attend their monthly meeting on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 1pm at the Elks Lodge.  You may also call the Extension office on 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email

 4-H Information

We have several 4-H clubs for our Garland county youth who are 5 to 19 years old.  For more information on all the fun 4-H activities there are, call the Extension Office at 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email Linda Bates at 

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.


By Allen Bates
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Allen Bates
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
236 Woodbine Hot Springs AR 71901
(501) 623-6841

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  • The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

    The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.