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Can I Mow and Fertilize on the Same Day?

Lawn mower on green grass

Proper lawn care is a vital part of owning a home. All homeowners want their lawns to look lush and green, and one way to do that is to fertilize them a few times a year properly.

Can I Mow and Fertilize on the Same Day?

Whether or not you should mow and fertilize your lawn on the same day depends on which activity you do first. Professionals typically advise mowing your lawn right before you fertilize it; however, you should not mow your lawn after you fertilize it on the same day.

Mowing your lawn the same day before fertilizing helps the soil absorb more nutrients from the fertilizer. Mowing removes debris that can get in the way and opens up the soil’s pores. Another benefit is that your grass will be at the ideal length right before fertilizing it, so you won’t have to mow it for at least a week.

The yard clippings from your mower can also benefit your lawn. Instead of removing them, leave the grass clippings on your lawn when fertilizing it. They will decompose and provide extra organic nutrients to your soil, which gives you a two-for-one fertilizer treatment. 

Fertilizer nutrients, including nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous, need time to absorb into the soil fully. Mowing your lawn before the fertilizer has time to sink in will make the treatment a waste.  

Instead, wait at least 24 to 48 hours before you mow your lawn again; however, even more time is ideal. If you mowed your lawn right before fertilizing it, you may not need to mow it again for a full week. However, if it gets too unruly, anytime after 24 hours from fertilization is fine. 

When To Mow Your Lawn 

When deciding when to mow your lawn, be careful not to disrupt the fertilization process. For example, mowing when your grass is wet will result in an uneven cut, so make sure it is fully dry first.

You should also double-check that your mower’s blades are sharp. Dull blades will rip out the grass and damage your lawn, making the fertilization treatment pointless.  

Lastly, do not cut your lawn too short after you fertilize it. Keeping the grass longer can help facilitate more growth. Never remove more than one-third of the leaf tissue at any time when you mow.

Hiring a lawn care specialist will ensure your lawn stays healthy and beautiful year-round.

wheelbarrow spreading fertilizer on green lawn

What is Starter Fertilizer Versus Regular Fertilizer?

Starter fertilizer is a special type of fertilizer meant for new grass seedlings. All fertilizers contain three nutrients: nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. The numbers on fertilizer, known as the N-P-K ratio, represent the weight of each nutrient in the fertilizer mixture. Your soil needs all three of these nutrients to facilitate healthy lawn growth. 

While these nutrients naturally occur in soil, they deplete over time, so it’s important to fertilize your lawn and add them back into your soil. 

The ratio of these nutrients in starter fertilizer is different to kickstart growth. Typically, starter fertilizer contains 20% more potassium, which makes the soil richer. Most starter fertilizer brands also use quick-release nitrogen to help the seeds germinate faster.

The nutrients in starter fertilizers are also enlarged to protect the delicate seedlings. The full-strength nutrients in regular fertilizers are too strong and can burn the seedlings before they can root. 

Starter fertilizer is only designed to use on new grass seedlings. It helps the seedlings establish firm roots to grow into a thriving lawn. You should not use starter fertilizer on an established or mature lawn because it does not contain the right nutrient ratios. Mature lawns need slow-release and full-strength nutrients to promote long-term growth, so it’s better to use regular fertilizer.

When to Apply Fertilizer

There are a few options regarding when you should apply starter fertilizer. You can apply the starter fertilizer before you seed or lay down sod. Another option is to apply the treatment after planting. Remember not to apply starter fertilizer directly to your sod because it can cause burning.

There are several application methods for starter fertilizer. If you are applying it before you lay your sod, you will need to spread it evenly using a fertilizer spreader and then work it four to six inches into the ground.

If you are applying your starter fertilizer after planting your grass seedlings, use a fertilizer spreader. Then, water the grass to help the fertilizer move down to the soil.

An expert lawn care specialist can help you master the starter fertilization process so your new grass seedlings have a long and healthy life. They will know the right amount of fertilizer to use and can fertilize your lawn properly. 

closeup of patch of green grass

How Long After Fertilizing Can Pets Go Outside?

To protect your dogs and cats, do not allow them on your freshly fertilized lawn for at least two days. You want to ensure the fertilizer has completely absorbed into the lawn so your pets cannot eat it off the grass or get it on their skin. Watering your lawn after fertilizing helps in this process, and rainfall also goes a long way in speeding up absorption. 

Some fertilizers state that they are more pet-friendly. They claim it is fine for your pets to roam your lawn before the 48-hour period. While these claims may be true, we recommend keeping your pets off a freshly fertilized lawn, no matter what type of fertilizer you use. The best thing to do is to wait the whole 48-hour period.

If your dogs or cats accidentally go into the lawn before the 48-hour period is up, watch them closely for signs of sickness. Do not hesitate to call your vet. When you are done fertilizing, store the fertilizer somewhere your pet cannot get into it.

Keep Your Lawn Lush and Beautiful With Proper Fertilization 

Maintaining a beautiful lawn does not have to be difficult. It’s helpful to know when to fertilize new grass to make sure your lawn is as healthy as possible for years to come. One of the best techniques is to mow your lawn just before fertilizing it and then wait at least two days to mow it again.

If you are planting new grass seedlings, opt for starter fertilizer instead of regular fertilizer to help them firmly root and germinate. Finally, no matter what fertilizer you use, keep your dogs and cats off the lawn for at least two days after the treatment. For the best results, contact a lawn care specialist to keep your lawn in tip-top shape.

ABC Can Take Care of Your Lawn Needs

Figuring out the best lawn care schedule can be tricky. Instead of trying to do it yourself, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our turf enrichment professionals can handle all the work, so all you have to do is enjoy your time outside.

J Zambo

J Zambo joined ABC in 2023 with over 20 years of experience. He is the Lawn & Tree Division Manager, overseeing Lawn Maintenance and Care, Landscaping, Tree and Holiday Lighting for all ABC Austin branches. Before ABC, he was the Vice President of Aloha Arbor Care and Hawaii Landscape Services. J is an ISA Certified Arborist and ISA Qualified Tree Risk Assessor. His favorite quote is “So shines a good deed in a weary world” by Willie Wonka.

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