How To Dispose of Old Lawn Fertilizer Safely

Two years ago, our lawn looked less than green. In fact, it was pretty brown, except for the crabgrass and weeds. Those were definitely thriving. We decided it was time to change up our lawn fertilizer tactics. By the end of the summer, our yard had never looked better. There was one problem. What were we supposed to do with the bags of extra chemical fertilizers?

Can I Throw Away Old Fertilizer?

The chemicals in lawn and liquid fertilizer are definitely helpful for grass, but they are considered hazardous waste. Obviously, the trashcan isn’t the best place for old fertilizer. The primary ingredients are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These ingredients can be deadly for fish if they get into lakes or streams.

If there are absolutely no other disposal options, triple bag your old fertilizer in heavy-duty trash bags. Thoroughly tape each bag shut. Inform your trash company that there is fertilizer in your trash. This should only be done as a last resort and only with small amounts. Never pour fertilizer down a sink or storm drain.

How Do I Dispose of Fertilizer?

  • Give it away!

    Show some generosity and find a neighbor or friend who could use it. Neighborhood websites or groups are an excellent place to find a willing home for your old fertilizer. Most granular synthetic fertilizers will not go bad, so there is plenty of time to share.
  • Find a household hazardous waste event.

    Many communities will host hazardous waste events once or twice a year. Contact your city or waste disposal service to find out more. Always be careful when transporting fertilizer! Make sure fumes can’t leak into your car. Secure the fertilizer, so it can’t tip over while you’re driving.
  • Hire a disposal company.

    Conduct a web search for waste disposal services in your area, and they will dispose of your old fertilizer for you. The company will have specific instructions on how to package your fertilizer for disposal.

Are Fertilizers Hazardous?

Fertilizers contain high levels of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Some fertilizers contain herbicides and pesticides, too. These chemicals can be harmful to fish and wildlife if they spill into lakes and streams. Never pour fertilizer down a sink or storm drain.

Check the bag. Many fertilizers will have instructions for disposal on the packaging. If you have unidentified bags that may contain fertilizer, it’s probably best to assume that they contain hazardous materials. It’s better to follow safe disposal practices, just in case!

How Long Does it Take for Lawn Fertilizer to Dissolve?

Most synthetic fertilizers are quick-release, which means they dissolve almost immediately, and you’ll see results within a few days. Organic, slow-release fertilizers contain additional nutrients for your grass, in the form of things like bone meal, fish meal, and fish emulsion. This may sound gross, but it’s great for your grass! It also takes longer to break down, and it can be 2-6 weeks before you see results.

How Do I Find Fertilizer Disposal Near Me?

Many communities will host waste events once or twice a year. Contact your local waste management service or your city to find one in your area.  Contact the National Environmental hotline at (800)253-2687 for more information about proper disposal.