Granular vs Liquid Fertilizer for Lawns: Which is Better?

When it comes to taking care of your lawn, choosing the right fertilizer can make all the difference. Granular and liquid fertilizers are the two main options available for lawn care. While both types of fertilizers aim to provide the necessary nutrients for your lawn to thrive, several differences between them can affect your lawn’s health and overall appearance.

In this article, we will explore the key differences between granular and liquid fertilizers, their advantages and disadvantages, and which type of fertilizer is best for your lawn.

What is Granular Fertilizer?

Granular fertilizer is a type of fertilizer that is made up of small, granular particles that contain essential nutrients for plants. These granules are usually made up of a combination of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are the three main macronutrients that plants need for healthy growth.

What is Granular Fertilizer

The granules are designed to slowly release nutrients into the soil as they dissolve, providing a steady supply of nutrients to plants over an extended period.

Types of Granular Fertilizer: Slow Release vs  Quick Release

Granular fertilizer is a popular type of fertilizer used to promote healthy growth in lawns and gardens. There are two main types of granular fertilizer: slow-release and quick-release.

Here’s what you need to know about each type:

1. Slow Release Granular Fertilizer

Slow-release granular fertilizer is designed to release nutrients slowly over weeks or months. This type of fertilizer is ideal for lawn grass that requires a steady supply of nutrients over a longer period.

Slow-release fertilizers are often more expensive than quick-release fertilizers, but they provide longer-lasting benefits and require less frequent application.

2. Quick Release Granular Fertilizer

Quick-release granular fertilizer is designed to release nutrients quickly, providing plants with an immediate boost of nutrients. This type of fertilizer is ideal for lawn grass that needs a quick dose of nutrients to help them recover from stress or to promote rapid growth.

Quick-release fertilizers are often less expensive than slow-release fertilizers, but they require more frequent application and can be more prone to leaching and runoff.

Advantages of Granular Fertilizer

Advantages of Granular Fertilizer

1. Easy To Apply

Granular fertilizers are easy to apply, making them a popular choice for both commercial and home gardeners. They can be applied directly to the soil surface or incorporated into the soil through cultivation.

Once applied, the nutrients in the granules slowly dissolve and become available to plants.

2. Reduced Chance Of Over Application

Granular fertilizers offer a reduced chance of over-application compared to liquid fertilizers. The granules are easy to control and apply precisely, ensuring that plants receive the right amount of nutrients without being overwhelmed.

Over-application can harm plants and contribute to environmental pollution, so the reduced risk of over-application is an important advantage of granular fertilizers.

3. Cost Effective

Granular fertilizers are cost-effective, offering a high level of nutrient availability at a reasonable price.

Their slow-release technology ensures that the nutrients are available to plants over a longer period, reducing the need for frequent re-application. This can save farmers and home gardeners time and money in the long run.

Disadvantages Of Granular Fertilizer

While granular fertilizers have many advantages, they also have some disadvantages that farmers and gardeners should be aware of.

1. Slow Results

One of the primary disadvantages of granular fertilizer is its slow release of nutrients. Because granular fertilizers are designed to release nutrients slowly over an extended period, it can take longer to see results compared to liquid fertilizers.

Disadvantages of Granular Fertilizer

This can be frustrating for farmers and gardeners who want to see immediate results.

2. Limited Absorption

Granular fertilizers need to be watered into the soil for the nutrients to be absorbed effectively.

In dry climates, this can be a challenge as the soil may not be moist enough to allow for proper absorption. This can limit the effectiveness of the fertilizer and result in poor plant growth.

3. Risk Of Over Fertilization

Another disadvantage of granular fertilizers is the risk of over-fertilization. It’s easy to over-apply granular fertilizers, which can lead to burned grass and other issues.

Over-fertilization can also contribute to environmental pollution by leaching excess nutrients into the surrounding soil and waterways.

What Is Liquid Fertilizer?

Liquid fertilizer is a type of fertilizer that is dissolved in water and applied directly to plants or soil. Liquid fertilizers are made up of a variety of nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as micronutrients such as iron, zinc, and copper. 

What is Liquid Fertilizer?

Liquid fertilizers are typically applied using a sprayer or irrigation system and can be absorbed by plants or grass quickly, providing rapid results.

They are commonly used in agriculture, horticulture, and gardening to promote healthy plant growth and improve crop yields. Liquid fertilizers are available in a range of formulations to suit different types of plants and growing conditions.

Types Of Liquid fertilizer

1. Synthetic Liquid Fertilizer

Synthetic liquid fertilizers are made using chemical compounds that are manufactured in a laboratory. They are designed to provide plants with specific nutrients in precise amounts.

Synthetic fertilizers can be effective in promoting plant growth, but they can also be harmful to the environment if not used properly.

2. Organic Liquid Fertilizer

Organic liquid fertilizers, on the other hand, are made from natural materials such as compost, bone meal, fish emulsion, and seaweed extracts.

These fertilizers provide a slow release of nutrients that can promote healthy growth without harming the environment. Organic fertilizers can also help to improve soil health by increasing microbial activity and adding organic matter to the soil.

Advantages Of Liquid Fertilizer

Liquid fertilizer is a popular choice among farmers and gardeners due to its numerous advantages.

1. Fast Results

One of the primary advantages of liquid fertilizer is its fast-acting nature. Liquid fertilizers are absorbed by the grass and soil immediately, providing quick results.

This is particularly beneficial in situations where plants need an immediate nutrient boost or to address nutrient deficiencies.

2. High Absorption

Liquid fertilizers are easily absorbed by the soil and grass, making them more effective than granular fertilizers in some cases.

Advantages of Liquid Fertilizer

Since they are already dissolved in water, they are readily available to plants and can be absorbed through the roots and leaves, leading to better plant growth and development.

3. Easy To Apply

Another advantage of liquid fertilizers is that they are easy to apply. They can be easily mixed with water and applied using a sprayer or watering can.

This makes them more convenient to use than granular fertilizers in some cases, particularly in areas where it’s difficult to spread granular fertilizer evenly.

Disadvantages Of Liquid Fertilizer

Liquid fertilizers offer many benefits, but they also come with some disadvantages.

1. Short Lived

One of the primary disadvantages of liquid fertilizers is that the effects are short-lived compared to granular fertilizers.

Since liquid fertilizers are absorbed quickly, the nutrients they provide are often used up by the plants quickly as well. This means that frequent applications may be necessary to maintain optimal plant growth and development.

2. Difficult to Store

Another disadvantage of liquid fertilizers is that they can be difficult to store. They require airtight containers to prevent evaporation and spoilage, and they must be kept away from heat and sunlight.

This can be a challenge for gardeners who have limited storage space or who live in areas with extreme temperatures.

3. Risk Of Over Fertilization

Over-fertilization is a common problem with liquid fertilizers. Since they are easily absorbed by plants, it’s easy to apply too much, leading to burned grass, root damage, and other issues.

It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when applying liquid fertilizers and to use them in moderation to avoid over-fertilization.

Comparison (Liquid vs. Granular Fertilizer)

When it comes to fertilizing your lawn or garden, there are two primary options: granular and liquid fertilizers. Both have their pros and cons and choosing the right one for your needs depends on several factors.

Liquid vs. Granular Fertilizer

1. Cost

 One of the most significant factors to consider when choosing between granular and liquid fertilizers is the cost.

Generally, granular fertilizers are less expensive than liquid fertilizers. However, the cost can vary depending on several factors, such as the type of fertilizer, the brand, and the quantity.

2. Application

 Another factor to consider when choosing between granular and liquid fertilizers is the differences in application methods. Granular fertilizers are applied by spreading the pellets or powder over the soil using a spreader.

Liquid fertilizers, on the other hand, are applied by mixing the fertilizer with water and spraying it onto the soil using a sprayer or watering can.

3. Equipment Needed For Each Fertilizer

 Granular fertilizers typically require a spreader, which can be costly if you don’t already have one.

Liquid fertilizers require a sprayer or watering can, which is generally less expensive than a spreader.

4. Time Required For Application

The time required for application also differs between granular and liquid fertilizers. Granular fertilizers require more time to apply, as the spreader needs to be adjusted and the fertilizer needs to be distributed evenly over the soil.

Liquid fertilizers require less time to apply, as the fertilizer can be quickly mixed with water and sprayed over the soil.

5. Effectiveness

 When it comes to effectiveness, both granular and liquid fertilizers have their advantages. Granular fertilizers provide slow-release nutrients that can last for several months, while liquid fertilizers provide nutrients that are quickly absorbed by plants.

6. Best Use Cases For Each Fertilizer

Granular fertilizers are often best for larger areas, such as lawns, and for long-term soil improvement.

Liquid fertilizers are often best for smaller areas, such as gardens, and for quick growth and development.

7. Environmental Impact

 Both granular and liquid fertilizers can have an impact on the environment. Granular fertilizers can contribute to soil erosion and nutrient runoff, which can pollute nearby waterways.

Liquid fertilizers can also contribute to nutrient runoff and can be harmful to aquatic life if not used properly.

8. Effects On Soil Health

Granular fertilizers can improve soil health over time by providing slow-release nutrients. Liquid fertilizers can provide quick nutrients but may not have a long-term impact on soil health.

9. Impact On Surrounding Ecosystems

Both granular and liquid fertilizers can impact surrounding ecosystems if not used properly. Granular fertilizers can contribute to soil erosion and runoff, while liquid fertilizers can be harmful to aquatic life if not used.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Fertilizer: (Granular vs. Liquid Fertilizer)

When choosing a fertilizer for your lawn, several factors need to be considered, such as soil type, lawn condition, climate, nutrient requirements, and personal preference. One critical factor to consider is whether your lawn needs granular or liquid fertilizer.

Granular vs. Liquid Fertilizer

Granular Fertilizer Is Best Suited For:

  • Sandy soil, as a slow-release fertilizer, can keep nutrients in the soil for longer periods and avoid leaching.
  • Healthy lawns, as slow-release fertilizers provide a steady nutrient supply over time.
  • Lawns with weeds, as some granular fertilizers contain herbicides or pre-emergent weed killers.
  • Specific grass types, as there are different fertilizers for cool-season and warm-season grasses.

Liquid Fertilizer Is Best Suited For:

  • Stressed or diseased lawns, as liquid fertilizers, can provide a quick boost of nutrients that the lawn needs to recover.
  • Lawns that require a targeted nutrient application, such as liquid fertilizers can be easily applied with precision.
  • Areas with shorter growing seasons, as liquid fertilizers, can be quickly absorbed by the grass and provide immediate nutrients.

Tips for Applying Granular Fertilizer:

  • Use a spreader to ensure an even application.
  • Water the lawn after application to help the fertilizer reach the soil.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid over-fertilization.

Tips for Applying Liquid Fertilizer:

  1. Use a sprayer or watering can for precise application.
  2. Water the lawn before and after application to help the fertilizer reach the soil and avoid burning.
  3. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid over-fertilization.


Choosing the right fertilizer for your lawn is crucial for its overall health and appearance. Granular and liquid fertilizers are the two main options available for lawn care. While both types of fertilizers aim to provide essential nutrients to your lawn, they differ in their release speed, absorption, and risk of over-fertilization. Granular fertilizers offer slow-release technology, are easy to apply, reduce the risk of over-application, and are cost-effective.

 However, they have slow results, limited absorption, and pose a risk of over-fertilization. On the other hand, liquid fertilizers offer quick results, and easy absorption, and are suitable for foliar application.


Is liquid fertilizer as good as granular?

Both liquid and granular fertilizers have their pros and cons. Liquid fertilizers are quickly absorbed and easier to apply to foliage, while granular fertilizers are more convenient for larger areas and have a slower release rate.

Is liquid fertilizer cheaper than granular?

Liquid fertilizer is generally more expensive than granular fertilizer due to the cost of production and packaging.

Is liquid lawn fertilizer better than granular?

Liquid lawn fertilizer can be better than granular because it is quickly absorbed and provides more precise application.
However, granular fertilizer can be more convenient for larger lawn areas and has a slower release rate.

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