Liquid vs Granular Fertilizer for Lawns – Which is Better?

It’s that time of the year when you want to give your lawn a nutritional boost, and you’re not sure whether to use liquid or granular fertilizer. So, which is best for your lawn, between liquid and granular fertilizer?

Both liquid and granular fertilizers contain the same primary nutrients your lawn requires in different compositions of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. However, one might be more desirable depending on the lawn’s health, application convenience, fertilizing frequency, cost, and storage.

Liquid fertilizer is a concentration of nutrients in a liquid or water-soluble form. It is a quick-release solution absorbed by the plants almost immediately after application. On the other hand, granular fertilizer is in the form of dry pellets. It is a slow-release fertilizer suitable for an already-established lawn.

Liquid vs Granular Fertilizer – Differences

The following are the differences between liquid and granular fertilizers:

Liquid FertilizerGranular Fertilizer
It provides instant results and is thus suitable for lawns that are struggling.It is a slow-release formulation that gives long-term results throughout the growing season.
Easy to apply – you simply mix it with water and spray the grass or plants.It takes time to apply – you have to use a spreader.
Have lower salt content, thus not easy to burn the grass.It has higher salt contents which easily burn the grass, especially when applied in excess.
It doesn’t last long both in storage and in the soilLast longer both in storage and in soil without going bad
Liquid fertilizers are expensive.Granular fertilizers are pocket friendly.

Also read: Does lawn fertilizer go bad?

Ease of absorption

Liquid fertilizer is a quick-release fertilizer that is readily available to plants after application. On the other hand, granular fertilizer is a slow-release formula that is absorbed slowly by plants throughout the season.

Application Convenience

Liquid fertilizer does not require any special tool when fertilizing your lawn. You simply mix it with water and spray it on the grass with a hose. With granular fertilizer, you need a spreader to fertilize your lawn. Refilling the spreaders with fertilizer granules also consumes a lot of time.

Salt Content

Granular fertilizers have higher salt content as compared to liquid fertilizers. They can easily cause fertilizer burn on the lawn, especially when applied excessively in dry weather. Liquid fertilizers are the best if you want a low-salt-content fertilizer.

Application Frequency

Liquid fertilizers are quick-release; they don’t last long. They require a frequent application to keep the lawn green and healthy. On the other hand, granular fertilizers are slow-release. They release nutrients into the soil gradually as required by the plant.

Therefore, granular fertilizer is the better choice if you want to fertilize your lawn once throughout the season.

Storage Convenience

Liquid fertilizers have an expiry date and a shelf life of 4 to 10 years. It degrades easily once opened. Liquid fertilizers are also prone to freezing, especially when the weather is too cold. It may also separate, leaving the inactive liquid on the top and a concentration of nutrients at the bottom.

On the other hand, granular fertilizers can stay infinitely without going bad as long as they are stored in a cool, dry place.

The Cost

Granular fertilizers might be the best choice if you are on a budget. They are cheaper as compared to their liquid fertilizers. You may spend more at the end of the year using liquid fertilizer to keep your lawn green and healthy.

Liquid Fertilizer Positives and Negatives

Liquid fertilizer is available in different brand names. However, all of them have the same positives and negatives.

Liquid Fertilizer Positives

  • Provides nutrients to the grass immediately after application.
  • It mixes with other products easily. For instance, you can mix it with pesticides or selective herbicides and use it in a single application.
  • It is easy to track the area you have fertilized. You can easily mix liquid fertilizer with pattern indicator dye to temporarily color the grass during application.
  • There are no special tools required when fertilizing your lawn.
  • It shows results within a short period of time. 

Liquid Fertilizer Negatives

  • Doesn’t last long in the soil.
  • Liquid fertilizers are usually more expensive as compared to granular fertilizers.
  • Liquid fertilizers have a shorter shelf-life as compared to granular fertilizers.
  • Liquid fertilizers can also trigger growth surge when applied to an established lawn

Granular Fertilizer Positives and Negatives

Granular fertilizers come in different sizes, colors, shapes, and mixtures, like liquid fertilizers. However, they all have one thing in common: dry crystals with the same nutrients.

Granular Fertilizer Positives

  • It’s cheap to buy in bulk.
  • Slow-release granular fertilizers last longer in the soil.
  • Granular fertilizers have a longer shelf-life as compared to their liquid counterparts.
  • The results are long-term.

Granular Fertilizer Negatives

  • Granular fertilizers require special tools to apply than liquid fertilizers.
  • Slow-release granular fertilizers may not deliver nutrients fast enough to a struggling lawn that requires an immediate nutrient boost.
  • It is challenging to spread fertilizer evenly on your lawn.
  • Contain high amounts of salts that can burn the lawn.

Which is better, liquid or dry lawn fertilizer?

Both liquid and granular fertilizers contains the same nutrients to keep your lawn green and healthy. However, if you are having a new and struggling lawn, a liquid fertilizer may be a better choice to give your grass a quick boost.

And if your lawn is in good condition and you want it to remain healthy throughout the season, then granular fertilizer can be a good bet. Nonetheless, lawn grass need routine maintenance involving fertilizing, watering, mowing and controlling pests and diseases.

Also Read: How long does it take granular fertilizer to work


  1. Michigan State University Extension: Pros and Cons of granular and liquid fertilizers
  2. The Ohio State University: Know When to Use Granular Vs. Liquid Fertilizers

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