Using fertilizer is one of the most important parts of lawn care. But if you’re like most homeowners, you probably wonder what’s safe and what isn’t when it comes to having chemical fertilizers on your lawn. Can you walk on grass after fertilizing it? What about if you have kids and pets – when is it safe for them to re-enter your yard? Scroll down to find out that and more.
With pretty much every kind of fertilizer, you have to wait a specific amount of time before you walk on the grass after application. How long you have to wait varies based on the type of fertilizer you’ve used on your yard.
Every fertilizer comes with its own manufacturer directions and safety precautions, so make sure to read and follow those.
The manufacturer will typically specify how long you should wait before walking on the lawn after putting down the fertilizer. They also may offer directions such as if you should water in the product after application.
Of course, you need to be especially careful when it comes to pets and kids and when you can let them back on the lawn. Kids and pets spend more time in close contact to your lawn than anyone else, and as a result they’re the ones that are most susceptible to harmful effects from herbicides, pesticides, and other lawn care products.
Even if you’re using organic lawn care products, educate yourself on what the manufacturer and brand recommends. There’s still usually a short time to wait after application to ensure your family’s safety.
Why do you have to Wait to Walk on the Lawn After Fertilizing?
It’s safe to use fertilizer as long as you use it correctly, carefully following product instructions. But it can be dangerous if you handle it incorrectly and don’t take the right safety precautions.
Walking on your lawn too soon after fertilizing isn’t just unsafe. You could also end up ruining all your hard work.
After all, you could end up moving the fertilizer around with your shoes, preventing it from getting into the soil evenly, etc.
So beyond safety considerations, there are practical considerations when deciding when to walk on your lawn after applying fertilizer.
Also, if you walk on granular fertilizer before it’s had the chance to absorb, the dust from these products can become airborne. If this happens, you could end up breathing in particles, which can be dangerous.
Depending upon the product you’ve applied, you could end up with serious respiratory issues or skin irritation.
Also, the granules could get stuck to the bottom of your shoes and you could bring them inside. Again, this is hazardous.
Why You Should Wear PPE, Even if You Don’t Look as Cool
I recommend that you always wear proper protective equipment when fertilizing or treating your lawn with herbicides or pesticides. This includes long pants, gloves, safety glasses, and a mask or respirator.
With most granular products you’ll want to lightly water the product in and wait until your lawn is dry before re-entry. The exact duration of how long you should wait varies depending upon the type of product you’ve applied.
On my property I try to fertilize at the end of the day, after my family is inside. This way the evening dew effectively waters in the product for me, and when the lawn is dry after breakfast the next morning, we’re ready to go!
With weed-and-feed products and other products that contain herbicides or insecticides, I am more careful. I try to apply these products during the week when kids are at school and off the lawn, and at least a few days in advance of the weekend.
How Long to Wait After Fertilizing Before Walking On Your Lawn
With many fertilizers, the manufacturers recommend that you wait between 24 and 72 hours after using the product to walk on your lawn. It’s especially important to be fastidious with this if pets or kids spend time on the grass.
With most kinds of synthetic granular fertilizers, you typically have to wait 24 hours or longer.
Organic fertilizers usually require less time, as they break down faster and are often made using ingredients that are natural, and less harsh to humans.
If you’re using liquid fertilizer, there is a much quicker absorption rate, and you can usually walk on the grass once it’s dry – often the same day.
As I mentioned earlier, liquid fertilizer doesn’t take as long to absorb as granular formulations. In most cases, you can walk on the lawn within 24 hours, after the product has fully dried.
It’s extremely important to make sure that the liquid fertilizer is completely dry and fully absorbed before you walk on the lawn. Again – this is especially true if you have pets and kids.
Granular and liquid fertilizers are different, so keep in mind that even if the time to re-entry is lower, the frequency of application will be higher with liquid products.
That means that you’ll have to be more careful when scheduling your liquid fertilizer applications around when you will want to use your lawn.
One of this product’s many great features is how it works well on a wide variety of lawn grass types. Just spray this on on your lawn three times a year, following the product instructions on the bottle.
Unlike some fertilizers that require you wait 48 or even 72 hours before you let kids and pets on your lawn, it’s usually fine to resume using your grass after 24 hours if you use this Scotts product.
And if you’d like to get even better results with an organic product line, choose Sunday (12% off your order with code LAWNCHICK2023). As soon as it’s dry, it’s safe to get back out there, and it’s one of the best liquid fertilizer options you’ll find. Here’s my full review.
On average, you have to wait longer for granular fertilizer to absorb fully so that you can walk on the lawn again.
I really can’t say it enough that you need to read and follow the instructions on your chosen product, because the ingredients in each product will be different.
Using a combination weed and feed product that contains an herbicide carries more risks and requires more caution than using a plant-based organic granular fertilizer like those sold by Lawnbox (10% off with code LAWNCHICK).
If you use granular fertilizer, I recommend applying it late afternoon or early-evening on a weeknight, early in the week. This allows the product to get watered in naturally by evening dew and moisture, and will give you a few days with kids naturally staying off the lawn while they’re at school and you’re at work.
Remember that granules have a harder time absorbing than liquids do. They generally need some extra irrigation at an instructed time in order to do their job, but it’s often not advised to apply before a heavy rainfall, when your fertilizer may just wash away.
One of the potential hazards of granular fertilizer is that dust can float in the air and you can end up accidentally breathing it in if you’re not careful. This is why I always recommend using a mask or respirator during application. Dust-free pelletized products like those sold by The Andersons (10% off with code LAWNCHICK), can also help with this.
What’s The Best Time of Day to Apply Fertilizer?
Applying fertilizer at the right time of day can be one of the easiest ways to minimize downtime for your yard.
The best times to fertilize are generally early morning or late evening depending upon your schedule. That’s because those times of day tend to have cooler temperatures.
As I’ve mentioned, my favorite time of day to apply fertilizer to my yard is late afternoon or early evening. This allows the product to get watered in naturally overnight, and it’s a time of day when everyone is naturally staying off the lawn, so I’m not asking my family to change their behavior.
Avoid applying your fertilizer in direct, strong sunlight. If you do, the product could get dried out and become ineffective.
This is especially important with liquid fertilizer, as those droplets of moisture can act like little magnifying glasses for the sunlight, burning your grass blades and causing unsightly damage.
Can Kids and Pets Walk on the Grass After it Has Been Fertilized?
When you use any fertilizer, it’s especially important to keep kids and pets off the lawn for a certain amount of time, as they’re the ones who are in closest contact with the lawn.
Check out the instructions that come on your fertilizer packaging to find out how long you need to wait before re-entering the yard.
In most cases, it’s advisable to wait longer for your pets and kids to go on the lawn than you would wait to walk on it yourself. The reality is that walking across your lawn with shoes on is different from rolling around in the grass the way pets and little ones might.
You should generally keep children and pets off your grass for at least 48 hours after you put down your fertilizer product, but again this varies based on the type of product you use. Going organic is a great option if you have pets and young children.
Organic Products are a Viable Choice
If you don’t want to have to have to worry about exposure to synthetic chemicals or harmful herbicides and insecticides, think about using organic lawn care products – at least while your children are young.
You’ll still have to wait a specific amount of time before using your lawn after putting down organic fertilizer, but you won’t have to worry as much if you accidentally re-enter your lawn too soon.
- Sunday is my favorite organic liquid product line (12% off with code LAWNCHICK2023), and
- Lawnbox is my favorite organic granular product line (10% off with code LAWNCHICK, 20% off if you subscribe to their annual plan).
So, Can You Walk on Grass After Fertilizing? (and should you)
You need to wait a while before walking on your lawn after you’ve applied fertilizer. This is true for both organic and synthetic products.
How long you have to wait before re-entering your lawn after fertilizing depends on what kind of fertilizer you’re using. Liquid products typically have a shorter wait time than granular products.
No matter what you use on your lawn, always read the manufacturer’s guidance carefully, and follow their recommendations. Wear PPE when applying products to your yard, and if you have young children and pets, consider choosing organic products that pose less risk to their health.
Don’t go yet! Remember, you need a spreader to distribute your fertilizer evenly on your lawn. While you’re here, take a peek at my guide to the best fertilizer spreaders.