How Much Liquid Fertilizer Should I Use Per Acre?

Liquid fertilizers are a great way to deliver fast nutrients to your lawn.  Unlike solid fertilizers, which are usually applied once or twice a year since they stay in the soil longer, liquid fertilizer can be applied more frequently in smaller amounts throughout the grass’ growing season.

The size of your yard, the application method, and the frequency you’re willing to apply will affect how much liquid fertilizer you should use per acre of lawn.

Why Apply Liquid Fertilizer?

The choice between a granular and liquid fertilizer tends to come down to the type of nutrients being delivered to your lawn.  When you select a liquid fertilizer, it’s usually made to be absorbed by the plant’s leaves, like nitrogen and iron, to help with chlorophyll production and blade growth.  In liquid form, the nutrients are immediately available for use by the plant.

Granular and other solid fertilizers, like compost, will take weeks or months to break down and be fully released.  This means you can generally apply fertilizer only once per season, whereas liquid fertilizer can be applied more frequently.  However, it can’t be applied in too large of amounts at once.  Too much liquid fertilizer can burn the grass since the plant absorbs too much and becomes dehydrated from the salt-based nutrients.

How Much Fertilizer Is Needed For My Yard?

You should do a soil test before applying fertilizer to be sure you’re not adding too much in addition to however much may be present.  If the soil is deficient in any of the main macro or micronutrients, a solid fertilizer would be a good choice to condition the soil for the long term.  However, for a boost in growth or color, a liquid fertilizer will deliver results more quickly.

How Much Fertilizer Is Needed For My Yard

To boost the grass’ color or deliver extra nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium to the lawn, liquid fertilizer can be applied in the amounts recommended by the product’s instructions or in smaller amounts to be applied more frequently.  The size of the lawn will affect how much fertilizer you may be willing to apply at a time or how much is efficient for your desired results.

A once-per-growing season full-strength application of an NPK may be all that is needed to keep your grass happy, but several small applications of iron or nitrogen every few weeks may also be desirable to keep your lawn dense and the most vibrant green.  The size of the area to cover will also affect how you apply it and whether you measure those applications in ounces or pounds.  An application rate calculator will help you get exact measurements for your grass based on your acreage, the product’s concentration, and the instructions for use.

Application By Acreage

The average home property is about a quarter of an acre, or 10,800 square feet in the US.  For yards less than an acre in size, measurements will usually be in ounces per 1,000 square feet.  However, very large yards and pastures will be measured in pounds per acre.

The concentrated liquid fertilizer will have to be mixed with water to be applied in a carefully chosen liquid fertilizer to water ratio.  A too-high concentration will burn the grass blades, although too low many not provide you with the desired results.  The water is measured in gallons, and based on the size of the ground to cover; your application method will vary:

Ortho Dial N Spray Hose End Sprayer: Multi-Use Applicator, No Mess, 3 Adjustable Spray Patterns, Extended-Grip Handle, Ergonomic

  • Hose sprayer attachment – Hose sprayer attachments may come with pre-mixed fertilizer or come empty for you to fill in your own. These hook up to the end of the hose and are best for smaller yards.  Pre-mixed fertilizer products may cover an average of 3,000 square feet; for yards that are 1,000 square feet, it should use about one-third of the bottle for an application.
  • Backpack sprayerA backpack sprayer is an option that will allow you to roam your yard freely and spray your liquid fertilizer. These containers usually hold 4 or 5 gallons of water, and your application rate will vary based on your own walking pace and the sprayer’s pressure.  For example, a nitrogen application of 30 ounces of fertilizer will typically be diluted in about 2 gallons of water to cover 1,000 square feet of grass.  However, this may be halved or quartered to apply more frequently during the growing season.
  • Cart and tractor sprayers – Large tanks for spraying fertilizer over many acres come in sizes ranging from 50 to 500 gallons that can be carted around or attached to a tractor. The large tank sprayers can apply tens of pounds of liquid fertilizer per acre, depending on your needs.  These large sprayers usually apply higher concentrations per trip since liquid fertilizer will probably be applied to pastures only once or twice a year.