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Too Much Nitrogen!!! Now What???


Joined: May 04, 2006
Posts: 1
Hello all, I am a new member and am in need of some advice.  My grandfather gave me a drop spreader before he died and this year I decided to try to use it rather than the broadcast spreader that I've been using.  I'm using the Scott's 4 Step program and applied the 2nd Step.  Well the drop spreader that I used was a different brand (LawnMaster I believe) so I called Scotts and asked them what setting I would need to use.  They said put it on 5 and have at it so I did.  When I got about half way finished with my 8000 sq ft of grass I realized that I was using waay to much fertilizer and that I wasn't going to have extra like I had planned.  I figured it up and I put approximately 2.5 times the recomended amount down!!!  I've been told that I can water the effected area an inch per day 3 or 4 days each week for 2 weeks and that might delute it.  Has anyone ever heard of this happening.  What happened to the lawn.  I hope I haven't killed it!  Not sure if it will help but I live in UT and the forecast for the next 5 days shows we should not exceed 70 degrees and most of the days are partly cloudy with a slight chance of rain.  Any ideas as to what I might do to help save my lawn?

Thanks in advance for your help,

paul wheaton

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 17402
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
Well, the scotts brand stuff is not exactly organic.  This could cause a lot of earthworm damage -  nooooooo!

Okay - how to make the best of it ...  The biggest concern is going to be nitrogen toxicity.  It can kill everything.  Plus all that stuff is going to end up in your ground water.  Yuck! 

Get some saw dust.  Not wood chips, but saw dust.  Extra fine particles.  Call around to some wood shops and ask for it.  If you can get the sawdust from maple or white oak that would be the best.  If you can get sawdust not used with any glues (or particle board) that would be good too. 

As the sawdust breaks down, it sucks the nitrogen out of the soil. 

In the future, I would suggest that you use a less toxic fertilizer (such as the ringer brand), and spread it by hand.  I use about two coffee cans every couple of weeks.  I just throw it around before mowing - aiming for the spots where the grass seems a little thin, or a little shorter or a lighter green color.

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Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Great idea about using sawdust to suck up the extra Nitrogen.  I also prefer Organic, though I don't use the Ringer brand. 

Watch out when using Scotts and other fertilizers.  The amount they specify on the bag is the maximum you can spread and have a healthy lawn.  They want you to use as much as possible, and still have a great looking lawn as they make more $ and maximize your lawns addiction to it. 

Scotts is an engineered system and I have to give Scotts credit for the marketing and genius behind it.  The Scotts system makes your lawn chemically addicted to it, to the point it will die if you stop cold turkey.  If you want to get off the Scotts system you have to ween your lawn off it.  Think how healthy someone would be given everything they needed without having to lift a finger.  Not very healthy.  A lawn on the Scotts system is similar, everything the lawn needs is right there and it doesn't have to lift a finger and doesn't work.  Why grow 8" deep roots when, all the nutrition is right there in massive abundance.  Why grow deep roots to try to recover water when, all the water is right there.  Your grass develops weak, short root systems too small to support the plant without fertilizer and frequent waterings.  Stop using it, your lawn browns and dies.  So, they have you roped in.  Scotts were the one that came across the broad-leaf killer.  Clover used to be purposely added into lawn seed mix and considered a good thing as it added Nitrogen to the soil.  So... how does Scotts get people to use their broad-leaf killer if it kills beneficial clover?  In comes their marketing.  Let's start advertising that clover is a weed!  What a great idea!  People will kill it, and afterward their lawns will not have any Nitrogen.  They'll be forced to buy... our Nitrogen fertilizer.   Wow, they'll have to buy our fertilizer, have to buy our broad leaf killer, then have to buy Nitrogen fertilizer to replace the killed clover and repeat every year. 

So, I recommend also weening your lawn off the Scotts system and go organic which helps your lawn but doesn't make it lazy.  Your lawn will have to work to get the nutrients out of the organic fertilizer vs. being lazy on the Scotts.  Put some clover in your lawn, and relish in how cute patches are.
paul wheaton

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 17402
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
Good stuff Meander!
subject: Too Much Nitrogen!!! Now What???