How Long Does It Take For Granular Fertilizer To Dissolve?

How long does it take for granular fertilizer to dissolve

This comprehensive guide explores the key aspects of granular fertilizers and answers “how long does it take for granular fertilizer to dissolve?” This guide focuses on fertilizer dissolution rates in various conditions. It provides a deep understanding of the different types of granular fertilizers, the factors influencing their dissolution, and how to best use them in different weather conditions. An informative table is also included as a quick reference to help readers understand and navigate the dissolution times of granular fertilizers under various circumstances.

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Understanding the Basics: Granular Fertilizers

Granular lawn fertilizers (dry fertilizer) are popular for homeowners and gardeners due to their ease of use and long-lasting effects. There are many types of fertilizer to choose from, including slow-release, quick-release, organic lawn fertilizer, garden fertilizers, synthetic granular fertilizer, and even specially formulated mixes that combat weeds and grubs. 

[If you’re interested in the liquid form of fertilizer, please read our post on these dry pellets’ liquid counterparts]

Quick-release Fertilizers

Quick-release fertilizers, also known as fast-release or water-soluble fertilizers, offer the fastest way to deliver nutrients to your lawn. These fertilizers, often synthetically produced, dissolve quickly when watered, releasing nutrients into the soil within days. They’re particularly useful for new lawns or lawns in need of a quick nutrient boost. However, care must be taken to avoid over-application, which could lead to fertilizer burn or nutrient runoff.

Try this if you need quick-release fertilizer:

Slow-release Fertilizers

Slow-release granular fertilizers take their time, releasing nutrients into the soil over several weeks or even months. This slow and steady nutrient release is excellent for maintaining consistent lawn health and reducing the need for frequent applications. This is a good fertilizer choice if you are concerned about ‘how long does it take for granular fertilizer to dissolve.’ Organic fertilizers often fall into this category, slowly decomposing to release nutrients and enrich the soil with organic matter.

Try PurleyOrganics Lawn Fertilizer:

Fertilizers with Weed Killer

Granular fertilizers can also come with added weed control to help keep your lawn pristine. These weed and feed products contain both nutrients for your lawn and herbicides to combat common weeds. They can be an efficient way to fertilize your lawn and control weeds simultaneously. However, these products should be used judiciously as they may impact beneficial insects and other non-target plants.

We like Scott’s Turf Builder Triple Action:

Fertilizers with Grub Control

Grubs, the larvae of various beetle species, can wreak havoc on lawns, eating away at the roots of your grass. Some granular fertilizers contain grub control ingredients, typically a type of insecticide, which works to eliminate these pests during their larval stage. This combination can be convenient when dealing with a recurring grub problem, providing the necessary nutrients for your lawn and a solution to keep grubs at bay.

Try Scott’s Summerguard:

Organic Fertilizers

Granular organic fertilizers are made from natural sources like bone meal, compost, or manure. These fertilizers provide essential nutrients, improve soil structure, and stimulate beneficial microbial activity. Since they are derived from natural materials, they are an eco-friendly choice, but they may take longer to show visible results compared to their synthetic counterparts.

Each type of granular organic fertilizer offers unique benefits and considerations, from quick nutrient delivery to weed and grub control. Understanding the specific needs of your lawn and the properties of each fertilizer type will enable you to make the best choice for a healthy, green lawn.

Try this non-burning organic lawn fertilizer:

Factors That Affect How Quickly Granular Fertilizer Dissolves

Regarding the dissolution rate of granular fertilizers, several key factors can speed up or slow down the process.

Weather Conditions

Weather plays a significant role in how quickly granular fertilizer dissolves. Let’s take a closer look at different weather scenarios:

Rainfall: Heavy rainfall can speed up the dissolution process due to the large amount of water available. However, this may not always yield the best results as the excess water can carry away the dissolved nutrients before your lawn or garden has a chance to absorb them. Therefore, if you live in a region prone to heavy rainfall, it may be a good idea to opt for slow-release granular fertilizers to reduce nutrient runoff and ensure sustained nutrient release.

Drought Conditions: In contrast, a lack of water can slow the dissolution process considerably. Under drought conditions, the granular fertilizer will remain mostly intact on the soil surface until water is introduced through watering or rainfall. Regular watering can help ensure the steady dissolution of the fertilizer, but care must be taken not to overwater, as this can lead to other problems such as root rot.

Temperature: Cold weather can also slow down the dissolution process as low temperatures reduce the water’s capacity to dissolve the fertilizer granules. Therefore, in cooler regions or during the early spring and late fall when temperatures are lower, it may take a longer period of time for the granular fertilizer to dissolve completely. Conversely, warmer weather can speed up the dissolution process.

Soil Type

The type of soil in your garden or lawn also significantly affects how quickly the fertilizer dissolves:

Sandy Soil: This type of soil allows for fast dissolution due to its large particle size and high drainage capacity. However, sandy soil struggles to retain nutrients effectively due to these same characteristics, often leading to the leaching of nutrients before plants can absorb them.

Clay Soil: Conversely, clay soil, with its smaller particles and lower drainage capacity, can slow down the dissolution process. Despite this slower dissolution rate, clay soil retains nutrients better than sandy soil, providing a more prolonged nutrient supply to the plant roots.

Soil pH: The soil’s pH level can impact nutrient release and absorption. While this doesn’t directly affect the dissolution rate of the fertilizer, an unfavorable pH can prevent plants from efficiently absorbing certain nutrients, even if they are available in the soil. Regular soil testing can help maintain an optimal pH for your garden or lawn needs.

[Read more about clay soil and pH]

Fertilizer Type

The composition and physical properties of the granular fertilizer itself can influence the rate at which it dissolves:

Particle Size: Smaller fertilizer particles will generally dissolve more quickly than larger ones. This is because smaller particles have a larger surface area relative to their volume, allowing water to come into contact with a greater proportion of the particle and dissolve it faster.

Nutrient Content: Different fertilizers contain different nutrients, and these nutrients don’t all dissolve at the same rate. For example, nitrogen fertilizer, often in the form of ammonium sulfate in synthetic fertilizers, dissolves relatively quickly. In contrast, organic granular fertilizers, which contain a variety of organic materials, dissolve more slowly as the organic matter must first decompose to release nutrients.

Fertilizer Formulation: Some granular fertilizers are designed to be slow-release, intentionally dissolving slowly over an extended period. These fertilizers are often coated or encapsulated to control the nutrient release rate, ensuring a consistent supply of nutrients over weeks or even months.

Understanding these factors can help you make more informed choices about the type of granular fertilizer to use, the best time for fertilizer application, and the specific lawn care practices to adopt to maximize the benefits of your chosen fertilizer.

[Read our review of Scotts Turf Builder]

Frequently Asked Questions About Fertilizing in Hot Weather:

What happens if you fertilize when it’s too hot?

Fertilizing in extremely hot weather can cause what’s known as “fertilizer burn.” When temperatures soar, grass and plants are already under stress, and the addition of fertilizer can compound this stress. Quick-release fertilizers immediately provide nutrients and are most likely to cause this issue, especially if applied in excess.

Fertilizer burn occurs when the nutrients—mainly nitrogen—scorch the plant’s roots or the grass blades, causing discoloration and damage. This is often seen as a yellowing or browning of the grass after application. In severe cases, it can kill the grass or plants.

What fertilizer can I use in hot weather?

When the weather is hot, using a slow-release or controlled-release granular fertilizer is best. These fertilizers release nutrients gradually over a longer period of time, reducing the risk of fertilizer burn. Furthermore, they provide a steady supply of nutrients, which can help plants manage the stress of hot weather.

In addition, organic fertilizers are generally safer to use in hot weather compared to synthetic fertilizers. Organic products, such as bone meal or compost, provide nutrients in a form that’s less likely to burn the plants. However, remember that organic fertilizers usually take longer to work since the nutrients are released as the organic matter breaks down.

Can you fertilize plants in 100-degree weather?

Fertilizing plants in 100-degree weather is not generally recommended, which could lead to fertilizer burn. Extremely hot weather stresses plants, and adding fertilizer to the mix can be too much for them to handle.

However, if you must fertilize, use a slow-release granular fertilizer or an organic option, as they are less likely to cause harm. Watering the plants well after fertilizing is essential to help the fertilizer dissolve and reach the roots without burning the foliage.

How do I fertilize my lawn in hot summer?

If you need to fertilize your lawn in hot summer conditions, follow these steps:

1. Choose the Right Fertilizer: Use a slow-release or organic fertilizer. These fertilizers will supply a steady stream of nutrients over time and are less likely to cause fertilizer burn.

2. Time Your Application: The best time to apply fertilizer in the summer is early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler. 

3. Water Properly: After applying the fertilizer, water your lawn thoroughly. This helps move the fertilizer into the soil and away from the grass blades, reducing the risk of burn.

4. Follow Directions: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the application rate. Applying too much fertilizer can lead to excess nutrients, increasing the risk of burn.

Remember, it’s generally better to under-fertilize than to over-fertilize. Too many nutrients can cause more harm than good, especially in hot weather. Always monitor your lawn closely after fertilizing to ensure it’s responding well to the treatment.

How to Apply Granular Fertilizer for Best Results

Knowing the best time to apply fertilizer is crucial. As a general rule, early spring and late fall are ideal times for most types of fertilizers. Applying fertilizer in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler and dew is present can also be beneficial. However, you must pay close attention to specific product instructions.

The right fertilizer application also requires the right tools. Rotary spreaders are great for larger lawns, while drop spreaders provide more precision for smaller areas. Always water the lawn after application to help dissolve the granules and carry the nutrients into the soil. But avoid heavy rainfall or much rain immediately after application as it could wash away the granules.

DIY Organic Fertilizers

Creating your liquid fertilizer from organic granules can be a good idea for those interested in a more natural approach. Simply dissolve a cup of dry granules in a gallon of warm water. Let it sit for a few days, stirring occasionally, until the granules fully dissolve. Strain the mixture and use it to water your plants for a nutrient-rich boost.

Environmental Considerations

While fertilizers can be immensely beneficial, misuse can harm local ecosystems. Over-fertilization can lead to nutrient runoff into local waterways, causing harmful algal blooms. Always follow the recommended application rates and consider the environmental impact when choosing your fertilizers.


Granular fertilizers, whether quick-release or slow-release, organic or synthetic, play a pivotal role in lawn care. The time it takes for these fertilizers to dissolve depends on many factors, including the type of fertilizer, the weather, and the type of soil. Understanding these factors allows you to make informed decisions and cultivate a vibrant, healthy lawn.

Remember, choosing the right fertilizer for your needs and using it responsibly is the best way to ensure a green and healthy landscape while minimizing environmental impact.

Bookmark this page for fast reference to our Fertilizer Table:

Sure, here is a detailed table considering various conditions and factors that affect the dissolution time of granular fertilizer.

Quick Reference Guide: Granular Fertilizer Dissolution Times and Influencing Factors

Fertilizer TypeTypical Dissolution TimeInfluencing Factors
Quick-release Synthetic Fertilizers2-3 daysDissolution can be faster with heavy rainfall, warm weather, and sandy soil. Risk of nutrient runoff in these conditions.
Slow-release Synthetic Fertilizers2-6 weeksDissolution time is designed to be slow to feed plants over time. Heavy rainfall or hot weather may speed up release.
Organic Granular Fertilizers2 weeks – 2 monthsBreakdown and nutrient release depends on soil microbes, which are more active in warm weather.
Granular Fertilizers with Weed Control2-5 days for weed killer, up to 2 weeks for nutrientsWeed killer usually breaks down faster than the nutrients. Weather conditions can affect both components.
Granular Fertilizers with Grub ControlUp to 2 weeksNeeds to be watered in to reach grubs under soil surface. Nutrient dissolution can be up to 2 weeks.
Lawn Turf Builder (with slow-release granular fertilizer)6-8 weeksDesigned to feed lawn over a longer period. Weather conditions and soil type can influence release speed.

Please note, these are general guidelines, and the actual dissolution time can vary based on the specific product, soil conditions, weather, and other environmental factors. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.

If you found this guide on granular fertilizers helpful, you might also be interested in our comprehensive post on the best time to fertilize Rhododendrons. It’s packed with insights to help you keep your Rhododendrons flourishing all year round. Don’t miss out!

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