Can I Mow And Fertilize On The Same Day? (6 Steps)


When a beautiful day offers ideal temperatures with no precipitation it is a great opportunity for getting a lot of work done outside.

This includes tasks such as mowing and fertilizing the lawn.

You can mow and fertilize on the same day, however, you should fertilize after mowing, not before. Liquid fertilizers will dry much faster than granule ones. However, by waiting to mow for a couple of days after application of either type, the fertilizer can be fully absorbed into the grass and soil. This allows the grass to grow healthy, consistently, and vibrantly. 

Mowing And Fertilization On The Same Day

Ideally, your lawn should be mowed first before fertilization to get the best results.  

Mowing first is beneficial due to the following reasons:

  • Mowing removes excessive, uneven growth and fallen leaves or debris.
  • Fertilizer is spread more evenly over a uniform area.
  • Mowing allows fertilizer to be fully absorbed into the soil and roots of the shorter grass. 
  • You do not have to worry about an overgrown yard while waiting for fertilizer to be absorbed. 

While fertilizing before mowing is not necessarily harmful to the lawn, if you do it in this order on the same day, it is not likely to be as effective. This leads to wasted time, energy, and product.  

The fertilizer should be completely dry before mowing can take place, which is generally after application anywhere from 4 to 48 hours. 

Even if you use a landscaper, knowing when and how to fertilize will ensure you get the right person for the job.  


What To Do: 6 Steps To Mow And Fertilize

Early spring, late summer, or early fall is typically when grass benefits from fertilization.  

The steps below are recommended to be completed in the following order. Refer to the fertilizer’s product packaging for handling, usage, drying times, and precautions.

1. Check The Weather Forecast

If heavy precipitation is in the forecast in the next day or two, wait to fertilize and mow on the same day. 

Heavy precipitation can wash fertilizer away, wasting your efforts. Frozen ground late in the season is also not ideal for fertilization since the soil will not absorb it.

2. Clean Up Debris

Pick up branches and any other debris in the yard. Move lawn furniture, yard decor, and any other movable obstacles directly on the lawn.  

3. Mow The Grass

Grass should be dry before mowing.  Mow the grass to a height of 2 to 3 inches depending upon the type you have. 

Shorter grass is prone to weed invasion, drought, or heat damage. 

Longer grass invites insects, snakes, mice, and voles in. Longer grass is typically harder to mow and leaves longer clippings that require raking or removal.

Raking

If you have clippings in clumps around the lawn, these can prevent fertilizer from fully reaching the roots of the grass. 

Rake these up by hand rake or using an attachment on your mower.

4. Aerating (Optional)

When grass is actively growing, typically in the spring or early fall, aerating the soil will help to further open up the soil for receiving fertilization. A plug or spike aerator can be used. 

The use of manual aerating tools or a riding mower attachment, along with the size of your yard, will impact how long this step will take.  

Conversely, you can water the grass for several days before beginning this process. Moistening the soil helps to loosen it up to absorb nutrients.

5. Apply Fertilization

Fertilizer facilitates fast and healthy growth for grass, making it stronger and the lawn more resistant to weeds. Healthy grass roots absorb water from heavy rains, reducing flooded lawn areas. 

Choose a fertilizer that is labeled for use on grass. Fertilizers have varying ratios of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). If there is too much nitrogen, in particular, it can “burn” the grass, causing it to die and no longer grow.

Types Of Fertilizer

There are two types of fertilizers used on lawns: liquid and granular.  

Liquid Fertilizer

Liquid fertilizer will uniformly cover an area and is more readily absorbed into the grass and soil. They typically need to be mixed with water before spraying. 

The liquid dries much faster than granular, and you may be able to mow as soon as four hours after application. Liquid fertilizers can also be used in conjunction with herbicides and pesticides, which comes with differing drying times. 

However, it is still recommended that you mow first before application.

Granular Fertilizer

Granular may vary in its concentration and application as it breaks down or dissolves over time. Water is sprayed over granular fertilizer after it has been spread out over the lawn to speed up absorption. 

Granular tends to be a slower release of nutrients, reducing the likelihood of nitrogen burn. This type is popular because it is available in affordable bulk quantities.

When And How To Apply Fertilizer

Lawns can be fertilized several times a year. Take note of when you are applying the fertilizer. 

Spring fertilizers have higher nitrogen levels and fall ones have more potassium. Nitrogen gives grass its vibrant green color, and phosphorus stimulates root development for the colder seasons. 

After mowing, apply fertilizer in the cooler part of the day, such as late afternoon or evening. This helps to protect the grass from the scorching overhead sun.  

Follow the application instructions for each type, using a spreader designed for the liquid or granular application. 

Generally, water is used at some point in the application with both types to reduce nitrogen damage. Water should not be heavily applied to avoid washing away the nutrients.

Apply fertilizer by starting at the perimeter of your lawn, and moving into the center. Walk in a pattern much like your mowing pattern. As you walk, apply fertilizer in overlapping lines to get good coverage.

Follow the instructions on drying times, as well as ensure there is no foot traffic from people or pets on the newly fertilized lawn. 

This video discusses when and how to fertilize a lawn in spring and fall:

6. Wait To Mow Again After Fertilization

Follow the fertilizer’s instructional label in regards to how long it needs to dry. This is generally a few hours to 2 days.  

The nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the fertilizer need time to absorb into the soil and the roots of the grass. 

Cutting your lawn prematurely will interrupt this process, but do not wait longer than a week or the grass be too long.

What To Do When Mowing After Fertilization

Consider the following before mowing again:

  • Water the lawn a second time to increase the absorption rate of the fertilizer.
  • The lawn should be completely dry before mowing again.
  • Do not cut the grass too short, making it vulnerable to disease and weeds. 
    • Shorter grass also has shallower and weaker roots. 
    • Use a higher blade setting to keep the grass on the longer side.
  • Do not rake up clippings the first time mowing after fertilization. 
    • This could inadvertently pick up any granular fertilization that has not yet been fully absorbed. 
    • Additionally, grass clippings will decompose and keep absorbed nutrients close to the soil.
  • Use a sharp blade to cut grass to give it a uniform look.

After the initial mowing after fertilization, continue to mow regularly. Cut about one-third of the grass length each time to encourage an even growth pattern. 

Consider mowing in different patterns each time. This approaches the grass at different angles, allowing it to grow more uniformly.


In Conclusion 

If you desire to mow and fertilize on the same day, it is recommended that you mow first. This is to ensure that the grass fully absorbs nutrients from the fertilizer.

Prepare the lawn ahead of time by checking the weather for dry conditions, cleaning up lawn debris, and then mowing and removing grass clippings.

The lawn is then in optimal shape for receiving and absorbing nutrients from fertilizer. Liquid or granular fertilizers are used in conjunction with water to increase absorption and prevent nitrogen burn.

It is recommended that you wait up to two days until mowing again. Fertilized lawns will appear healthy and vibrant, with fewer weeds, insects, and small rodents.

Lisa Burlison

Lisa is a freelance blogger, literacy specialist, teacher, and self-published author with a vast DIY experience. When she’s not writing for PlumbJoe, Lisa enjoys testing homemade cleaners and doing repairs around her home. Her other hobbies include birding and bicycling.

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