5 Best Fertilizers For Greener Grass | Make Your Lawn Green

No amount of mowing, edge trimming, and leaf blowing will make up for pale or discolored grass. And it’s not just about having the most manicured lawn in the neighborhood. Turf grass that has lost its trademark green color is trying to let you know something is wrong.

Grass-like all plants — gets its color from chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is an essential part of photosynthesis, which is how plants create energy. Put simply, if your grass isn’t bright green, it’s not functioning to its full potential.

The easiest way to boost your lawn’s color and overall health is by applying fertilizer each year. 

If improved color is your top priority, you’ll want to select a formula that can deliver on such promises. I’ve recommended the best fertilizers for greener grass below, as well as offered some expert advice for growing the lushest, happiest lawn possible.

Best Fertilizers For Green Grass

In a rush for a greener lawn? Here are my top recommendations for either a liquid or slow-release formula:

Simple Lawn Solutions Advanced Liquid Lawn Food 16-4-8

Best Fertilizer Spray

Simple Lawn Solutions Liquid Lawn Food 16-4-8

Easy to use, a pre-mixed formula that improves color and encourages healthy root growth fast. Added organic seaweed & fish emulsion also improves soil health. 

The Andersons Turf Fertilizer 25-0-3

Best Continous Release

The Andersons Turf Fertilizer 25-0-3

Slow-release granules with additional iron. Includes a specialized high nitrogen formula that makes nutrients more available to plant roots and keeps grass greener for longer.  

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Choosing a Fertilizer for Greener Grass

The reality is that most grass fertilizers will improve your lawn’s color to some degree. For optimal results, however, I recommend selecting a formula containing plenty of nitrogen and a good source of iron.

A simple soil test can tell you a lot about your lawn and what might be getting in the way of maximum color. I highly suggest getting one done if your lawn seems to be struggling (or if you’ve never completed one before).

Remember that there can always be too much of a good thing. Although nutrients like nitrogen and iron are key to greener grass, there is a limit to how much can be applied. 

Too much fertilizer will have the opposite of the desired effect — yellow or brown grass that looks burnt and unhealthy.

Grass Fertilizer N-P-K Ratio

Before you can determine whether a particular fertilizer will meet your lawn’s needs, you need to know what kind of nutrients it contains. To do this, you’ll want to reference the label’s N-P-K ratio.

An N-P-K ratio is a sequence of 3 numbers separated by hyphens found on nearly all fertilizer labels. Each sequence represents the percentage of macronutrients found inside. These are:

  • Nitrogen (N)
  • Phosphorus (P)
  • Potassium (K)

For example, a 16-4-8 fertilizer contains 16% nitrogen, 4% phosphorus, and 8% potassium.

Micronutrients like iron and magnesium aren’t included in this ratio — you can find those levels by checking the fertilizer’s guaranteed analysis.

Importance of High Nitrogen

You can’t have a green lawn without plenty of nitrogen. Nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients for plant health. It is a major component in photosynthesis and encourages top growth.

I and so many others recommend applying a high-nitrogen fertilizer to turf grass because nitrogen deficiency is often to blame for poor color. A steady source of nitrogen is also necessary for grass to recover from dormancy caused by cool temperatures or drought. 

Chelated Iron Supplement

Like nitrogen, iron is crucial to chlorophyll production. Iron is responsible for giving the grass a darker, sometimes blue-green hue. It will also improve lawn color without forcing excessive growth like nitrogen can.

For the best results, I recommend applying a source of chelated iron. According to Michigan State University, chelated iron is specially treated to be more available to plant roots even in suboptimal soil pH conditions.

Types of Grass Fertilizer

While nutrients are very important, I also want to take a minute to discuss the different versions of lawn fertilizer you have to choose from. The vast majority of quality options available are sold as either slow-release granules or liquid sprays.

Slow-Release Lawn Fertilizer

Slow-release fertilizer is ideal for most lawns because it feeds over a period of weeks or months instead of all at once. This type of fertilizer will maintain greener grass throughout the entire season when used correctly.

I generally recommend slow-release granules for sizable yards since they’re easier to apply over large areas. You will, however, need to invest in a broadcast spreader for the best results.

Lawn Fertilizer Spray

Liquid fertilizer is your best option for rapid results. While the nutrients won’t stick around in the soil for long, they can be absorbed by plant roots immediately after application. I recommend using a spray formula to quickly improve your lawn’s color throughout the growing season.

Avoiding Fertilizer Burn on Grass

Fertilizer burn is caused by excess nutrients in the soil. Symptoms in turf grass can occur suddenly or over time and include severe discoloration.

Always measure fertilizer products to prevent overfeeding. Avoid fertilizing when your lawn is dormant or stressed by drought or heat. 

Be sure to provide plenty of water throughout the year to flush out excess nutrient salts and protect your lawn’s root system.

Best Fertilizers for Greener Grass

While any fertilizer that supports grass health will also improve your lawn’s color, it’s undeniable that some formulas are better suited to the task than others. It’s also true that shopping for a specialty supplement — i.e., chelated iron — can be a bit more intimidating than buying regular old fertilizer.

Below you’ll find my top recommended fertilizers and supplements for greener grass based on research and personal experience in my own lawn.


  • Suitable for all grass types
  • Available as a bundle with an iron supplement
  • Delivers nutrition instantly


  • Not a slow-release formula

Whether you’re treating a very small area or just prefer an instant-release formula, this liquid spray fertilizer from Simple Lawn Solutions is a great option for greener grass. It’s sold in a ready-to-use spray bottle, so there’s no need to purchase a separate attachment for your garden hose.

This fertilizer contains a good amount of nitrogen while also supplying other macronutrients for overall lawn and soil health. It’s the perfect option if your lawn is looking lackluster as a result of stress damage as it will provide an instant boost of nutrients. 

I have used this as a spring treatment when roots need a helping hand in getting re-established and when improving the hardiness of grass blades following adverse winter weather is a necessity. 

How To Use: Connect the sprayer to a garden hose and apply it evenly to the lawn. Thoroughly water the area within 24 hours of application. Re-apply as often as biweekly.


  • One application feeds for a month or more
  • Fortified with iron
  • Includes NutriSphere-N nitrogen


  • Large bags may be difficult to store

For a green lawn that maintains itself throughout much of the year, I recommend this slow-release fertilizer from The Andersons. In addition to a heavy dose of nitrogen, this formula contains 2% iron for improved color.

Something that separates this fertilizer from other high-nitrogen granules is the use of NutriSphere-N. This is a specialized form of nitrogen that reportedly keeps grass green longer by making the nutrient more available to plant roots.

When used correctly, this fertilizer will go a long way in feeding both cool- and warm-season turf grasses.

How To Use: Apply to dry grass only. Distribute evenly over the lawn before watering the entire area with at least .2 inches of water. Apply every 4 to 6 weeks during the growing season.


  • Provides supplemental iron
  • Less likely to burn vulnerable grass
  • Won’t increase the need to mow


  • Not an adequate source of macronutrients

If your lawn’s main nutritional needs are otherwise being met, I strongly recommend giving this fertilizer from the Pennington Ironite line a try. It boasts an N-P-K ratio of just 1-0-1 but provides a hefty source of iron and sulfur for better color.

This is a slow-release fertilizer that can be applied periodically throughout the spring, summer, and fall. You can safely use this product in addition to another source of nitrogen.

Note that because this formula contains very little nitrogen it is less likely to stress grass suffering from the summer heat or drought. It also won’t encourage increased growth (so you won’t need to mow more frequently!).

How To Use: Apply to established turf grass using a broadcast spreader. Water thoroughly after each application. Apply as needed every 1 to 2 months.


  • Can produce greener grass in 3 days
  • Feeds continuously for 6 to 8 weeks


  • May have a slight odor

As the product name implies, this Scotts lawn fertilizer is almost guaranteed to improve the color of your turf grass. It contains a triple threat to green grass: Nitrogen, iron, and sulfur.

Homeowners searching for a continuous-release formula will appreciate this option. One application of this fertilizer can sustain your lawn for up to 2 months.

While many slow-release fertilizers need considerable time to take full effect, this formula can produce noticeable results in as little as 3 days. It’s one of many reasons why I recommend this fertilizer specifically to those looking for improved grass color.

How To Use: Apply to damp or dry grass using a calibrated broadcast spreader. Watering after the application is recommended.


  • Great source of chelated iron
  • Will not increase the lawn growth rate


  • It should be combined with a nitrogen fertilizer
  • Will stain concrete and similar surfaces

Last but not least, I want to suggest a chelated iron supplement that can be added to an existing fertilizer routine without the risk of overfeeding. My personal go-to is this formula from Southern Ag that contains both iron and sulfur for better lawn color.

Since this fertilizer is completely free of nitrogen, it won’t encourage a burst of growth. It also won’t meet your lawn’s primary nutritional needs. It’s solely intended to reverse micronutrient deficiencies and promote a deeper shade of green.

How To Use: Apply 4 ounces of fertilizer per gallon of water using a hose-end sprayer. Do not apply immediately before heavy rain. 

Fertilizing Lawns For Greener Grass

Lawn fertilizer should only be applied to grass that is actively growing and otherwise healthy. Applying fertilizer to overly stressed or damaged turf is likely to do more harm than good! 

Ensure your lawn receives adequate water before and after all fertilizer applications. Some fertilizers must be applied to dry grass. Granular fertilizers should be watered immediately after the following application to activate. Be sure to read the product directions before proceeding with any fertilizer.

When to Apply Fertilizer

The best time to fertilize a lawn largely depends on your grass type, climate, and overall goals. Many homeowners opt to only fertilize once or twice per year. While you can certainly maintain a green lawn with this strategy, some turf grass requires more frequent feeding to truly thrive.

Fertilizing Lawns in Spring

Springtime fertilizer is crucial to lawn health and appearance. If you only want to fertilize your property once per year, spring is the time to do it.

You can start fertilizing in the spring as soon as your lawn shows new growth. Cool-season grasses are put on considerable height in the spring and should be fertilized earlier rather than later. Warm-season grasses won’t take off until closer to summer but will still benefit from spring feedings.

Summer Fertilizing for Greener Grass

Fertilizing throughout summer can make a big difference in the color of your lawn. Warm-season grasses respond well to heavy feeding in summer. However, cool-season grasses often go dormant during the hottest part of the year. I don’t recommend fertilizing during extreme heat or drought.

Regardless of your grass type, be sure to provide adequate water alongside any fertilizer applications. In my experience, consistent irrigation is just as important (if not more so) to grass color in the summer months than nutrition.

Fall Fertilizing

You can maintain green grass through September, October, and even November with proper nutrition. In most cases, you can continue adhering to your summer fertilization schedule. Cool-season grasses in particular will thrive in the fall but may struggle to prepare for winter if fed too much nitrogen at this time.

Winter Fertilizing

In most climates, turf grass goes dormant in winter. But some warm and temperature regions can sustain green grass year-round. 

If your lawn falls into the latter category, you can continue feeding through winter per your fertilizer’s instructions. Dormant grass should go unfed until it begins to grow again in the spring.

How to Apply Lawn Fertilizer 

By far the easiest way to apply granular fertilizer to your lawn is with a broadcast spreader. You will need to calibrate your spreader before use to ensure the right amount of fertilizer is applied. Handheld spreaders can be used for smaller lawns but I highly recommend investing in a walk-behind model if you own more than a few hundred square feet.

Most liquid formulas are applied using a normal garden hose fitted with a special bottle attachment. Keep track of which areas you have treated as you work to prevent overfeeding or missing spots. Dividing your lawn into smaller sections can be extremely helpful in such cases.

How Often to Apply Fertilizer

Many lawns thrive with as little as one fertilizer application per year. If you opt for the minimalist route, I recommend feeding in the spring after the grass has left dormancy.

For optimal color throughout your lawn’s active growing season, you may need to apply fertilizer several times throughout the year. I always recommend referencing the directions of your chosen formula to determine how often the product should be applied. This will ensure the best results while minimizing the risk of fertilizer burn.

Verdict: Best Fertilizers for Green Grass

I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of homeowners would be pleased to wake up one morning and find a greener, healthier lawn. Well, you can achieve just that with the right fertilizer at your disposal.

Simple Lawn Solutions Advanced Liquid Lawn Food 16-4-8

Best Fertilizer Spray

Simple Lawn Solutions Liquid Lawn Food 16-4-8

Easy to use, a pre-mixed formula that improves color and encourages healthy root growth fast. Added organic seaweed & fish emulsion also improves soil health. 

For the average lawn in need of a little extra color, I highly recommend Simple Lawn Solutions Advanced Liquid Lawn Food 16-4-8. This fast-acting liquid formula will encourage greener growth, especially when combined with the brand’s liquid iron supplement.

The Andersons Turf Fertilizer 25-0-3

Best Continous Release

The Andersons Turf Fertilizer 25-0-3

Slow-release granules with additional iron. Includes a specialized high nitrogen formula that makes nutrients more available to plant roots and keeps grass greener for longer.  

If you’d prefer a slow-release option, The Andersons Turf Fertilizer 25-0-3 is my go-to choice. It contains a rich source of nitrogen plus iron for improved color that lasts all season.

FAQs Fertilizing Lawns For Greener Grass