Lawn fertilizers can be applied as early as March and as late as September. After fertilizing, the lawn should not be walked on for at least 24 hours.
Here’s a more reasonable answer:
24 to 72 hours is the recommended time frame to wait after fertilizing your lawn before you walk on it. The soil needs to completely absorb the lawn fertilizer before you, your kids, and dog, can go back to enjoying the lawn again.
That will allow any excess fertilizer to pass through the grass and be absorbed by the soil below.
If too much fertilizer is left on the grass, it can contact people and pets and cause harm. The best time to walk on a newly fertilized lawn is after one week has passed.
When you apply nutrient-rich fertilizer such as 12-4-8 (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium), like Scotts Turf Builder Fall Lawn Fertilizer, it helps your lawn develop strong roots that help your grass be ready for cooler temperatures to come.
8 Reasons Why It’s Best to Stay off The Newly Fertilized Lawn
When you’re done fertilizing your yard, don’t walk on the grass for at least a week. Here are some of the obvious reasons:
1). Tracking Fertilizer Everywhere:
It is impossible to know how much of the fertilizer you’ve just put onto your lawn is going to be immediately washed away by rain or sprinklers, but there’s no doubt some will be. And the rest will get tracked around on your shoes as you walk back and forth across it.
That means grass clippings, bits of old leaves, and other debris mixed right in with the fertilizers that may not have even been absorbed into the ground yet. That’s a lot of chemicals that weren’t supposed to go down your drains. If you’re using a granular fertilizer, your lawn gets a speckled brown pattern from all the bits of fertilizer.
2). Letting The Fertilizer Do Its Job:
Grass takes up nutrients best when it doesn’t have a foot on top of it. Just like working out at the gym, lawns need an opportunity to rest and recover after taking a beating.
Even if you’re not walking on your fertilized yard, it’s likely your pets and children will find ways to do so. When they pee or poop on lawns that have just been heavily fertilized, this can also lead to problems with additional nutrients entering our water supply.
The best time to fertilize a lawn is the day after it has been mowed. That should allow plenty of time for all those chemicals to get into your grass and work their magic before you or anyone else puts their shoes on that freshly fertilized grass.
If you absolutely must walk on your lawn right after fertilizing, use fertilizer spikes instead of granules so plants can absorb the beneficial nutrients without being tracked around everywhere.
3). Leaving Grass Clippings All Over:
Lawn clippings contain nitrogen as well as other nutrients that rains will wash away. So unless you want a lawn full of piles of grass clippings, don’t walk across freshly fertilized grass until it has had time to recover from the exhausting workout you just put it through.
Also, most fertilizers are designed to be absorbed by the ground in small amounts. A massive amount of grass clippings on top of recently fertilized soil will only act as a barrier between your lawn and its nourishment.
If you don’t want to deal with raking or bagging up all those pesky grass clippings, place an old sheet underneath your mower before you start cutting, then throw it away when you’re done.
4). Harmful Chemicals and Other Nuisances:
To avoid tracking chemicals into your home, be sure to change out of shoes that have been on your newly fertilized lawn ASAP once you get inside, just in case some fertilizer did get stuck onto the soles of your shoes.
And as with any chemicals, always wash hands and keep off food until you’ve had time to clean yourself after fertilizing the lawn properly.
You might notice a slight sulfur smell around your yard for a little while after fertilizing. That is pretty common, and some people even like it enough that they purposely leave their door open on fertilizer days so that everyone in the house can enjoy the fresh air wafting into their living rooms.
Other than enjoying some unusual aromas, this should be more annoying than harmful, but to be sure, only do what you’re comfortable with.
5). It’s The Law:
In some localities, such as Fairfax County in Virginia, walking on the grass is illegal when fertilizers or pesticides have been recently applied.
Your neighbors may complain if you do, and your lawn will hate you for it. But more importantly, the long-term effects of letting chemicals into our water supply and onto the bare feet of children and pets can’t be what we want for future generations.
If you’re going to fertilize your lawn this spring season, keep these tips in mind so as not to do more harm than good!
6). Lingering Fertilizer Residue:
Having fertilized your lawn, you may notice that people are still tracking bits of fertilizer onto your property for the next day or two. Some of this will eventually make its way into grass blades and be absorbed over time, but some will also wash away with rain (especially if there’s lots of it).
If you can see residue after one or two days, then chances are there is still some unabsorbed fertilizer on the surface of your grass. That means that more nutrients than your lawn can absorb right now are being washed into our water supply which can cause algae blooms in waterways around where you live.
That might not seem like a big deal to you right now, but this is what causes the “fish kills” in local streams and rivers when fish try to escape the toxic waters only to be suffocated because there’s no oxygen left in the water.
To avoid this, wait another day or two before walking on your lawn again after fertilizing, then rake up any fertilizer that has washed into the soil by hand if you can.
That’ll help stop nutrients from getting into waterways while still allowing your grass to access all of those nutrients beneficial to its health.
7). Risk Of Dislodging Nitrogen-Sensitive Grass
If you walk across sod lawns during hot weather when they are under stress due to heat or lack of water, you may tear or dislodge the mat of roots and create severe damage.
If you know heat is causing your lawn stress, move outdoor activities to early morning or evening hours to avoid injuring the lawn during peak sunlight and heat periods.
Be careful! Nitrogen application timing is critical: nitrogen should not be applied when temperatures are high (above 80°F/27°C), and rainfall is not expected within 24 hours after application. Fertilizers can cause grass burn to tissues that come in contact with them because they contain salts.
There’s a higher risk for this if the fertilizer was recently applied – so wait at least two days after fertilizing before mowing or doing physical activity on your grass.
8). Pets Licking Paws
Pets that lick their paws after walking on a fertilized lawn can get sick from nitrogen poisoning.
Keep your pets off the grass when it’s freshly fertilized for this reason, and also minimize the amount of fertilizer you use in the first place (there are plenty of natural alternatives out there these days, such as organic compost).
Since most fertilization includes pesticide application, there is the risk of Potential pesticide poisoning when pets lick their paws. The same could happen to small kids who play/walk on lawns after application.
Lawn Post-Fertilizing Safety: What You Need To Know
Lawn post-fertilizing safety has to be observed for your protection, the young ones, pets, and the lawn itself.
Post-fertilization is integral to maintaining a beautiful, healthy lawn that withstands wear, tear, heat, cold, and drought. However, it is also when injuries are most likely to occur due to exposure to hazardous chemicals contained within fertilizers.
The following guidelines will help you stay safe while using these chemicals around your home, so you can continue tending your garden or grass for years to come without injury or damage done by fertilizer exposure.
Stay off the lawn
As you know, the grass will absorb a lot of nutrients right after being fertilized, so it would be best for children and pets to stay off the lawn until a day or two after this process has been completed.
That’ll ensure they do not accidentally ingest any remaining fertilizer that may have been left behind on their hands or feet from walking through the yard with bare skin.
While these chemicals are not very easily absorbed into the skin, there’s no need to risk unnecessary exposure.
It’s also advised that you keep your pet inside during this time as well. That is to prevent them from accidentally coming into contact with or ingesting the chemicals left behind by the fertilizer process.
Clean up fertilizer on the patio, sidewalk, or driveway.
Any fertilizer that may fall onto the patio or driveway should be immediately cleaned up and disposed of properly by sweeping it into a dustpan or grabbing it with a paper towel.
Neutralizing products such as TSP, Comet, Bon Ami, etc., can also be used to clean fertilizer off concrete surfaces.
Fertilizing lawns is an essential part of maintaining healthy grass. But it is crucial to be aware of the safety precautions that should be taken when fertilizing lawns.
Stay off the yard after fertilizing, keep pets and children indoors or on another section of grass during this time as well, clean up any fertilizer left behind on driveways, sidewalks, and patios immediately.