Winter Fertilizer for Lawns: What’s the best, when & how to use it

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During winter, lawns experience some degree of dormancy due to cold temperatures. Some grass varieties may also turn brown, and some may die because they lose water faster than they can replace it (desiccation). Fortunately, your lawn can stay healthy in winter and thrive in spring if you feed it with winter fertilizer for lawns (winterizer).

Winter lawn fertilizer has a higher percentage of nitrogen and potassium than other lawn fertilizers. It gives the grass these much-needed nutrients to keep it healthy, protect it from winter stress, and help it thrive in spring. The appropriate time to use a winterizer is at the end of fall.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss winter fertilizer for lawns (winterizer) in more detail and whether winterizer fertilizer is necessary. I’ll also explore the best winter fertilizer for lawns and when and how you can apply it. Lastly, I’ll discuss if winterizer fertilizer needs to be watered, so make sure to keep reading until the end. 

What Is Winterizer Fertilizer?

Winterizer is a fertilizer you feed to your grass or turf just before winter starts. As the name suggests, winterizer prepares your lawn to survive winter and thrive in the spring. 

On the packaging of any fertilizer, you’ll see the percentages of the primary micronutrients in the fertilizer. Primary macronutrients are the most essential nutrients that grass and other plants need for proper growth. For instance, 30-0-10 (N-P-K) means that the fertilizer provides 30% Nitrogen (N), 0% Phosphorus (P), and 10% Potassium (K). 

The main difference between winter fertilizer for lawns and other lawn fertilizers is that winterizer features higher percentages of the primary macronutrients Nitrogen (N) and Potassium (K). The higher contents of Nitrogen and Potassium are vital for your lawn during winter. They help protect and support your grass during harsh winters. 

Check out my articles about fertilizers high in Nitrogen and Potassium.

Below are the benefits of these two primary macronutrients in winter fertilizer for lawns. 


As I have stated above, winter fertilizer for lawns contains a higher percentage of Nitrogen (N) than other lawn fertilizers. The nitrogen helps the grass store food before the ground freezes. As a result, the lawn has sufficient food and energy to sail through the cold winter months. 

Nitrogen is the nutrient that gives grass its green color. So, when you apply winterizer to your lawn, the grass remains greener for longer during winter. Additionally, although the grass hibernates during winter, nitrogen helps it to thrive when the cold season is over. 


Winter lawn fertilizer also contains a higher percentage of Potassium (K) than other lawn fertilizers. The potassium penetrates the cells of the grass and strengthens the entire plant. It also creates thicker cell walls by helping with the grass’s internal processes, such as protein production, respiration, and photosynthesis. 

Potassium also enables the grass to withstand winter stresses such as freezing temperatures. 

Tip: I’ve written in-depth articles about why plants need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Check them out!

Is Winterizer Fertilizer Necessary?

Winterizer fertilizer is necessary for your lawn. Check out my in-depth article here. A good winterizer is usually rich in nitrogen and potassium, vital primary macronutrients for the grass. Feeding the lawn with a winterizer is key to keeping your lawn healthy throughout the year.

Some experts argue that winterizer fertilizer is the most important feed for the year. The reason for this is that winter lasts about three months, depending on where you live. So, after feeding your grass with winterizer fertilizer, you’ll not fertilize it again until the season is over.

Here are the benefits of winterizer fertilizer for your lawn: 

  • It helps the roots of the lawn to absorb and store nutrients in readiness for the long winter months.
  • It helps the roots to continue growing strong until the ground freezes in winter. 
  • It feeds the grass slowly during winter, thus keeping it healthy despite the harsh conditions.
  • The fertilizer also helps the lawn to survive and remain green for longer during winter.
  • Since the lawn has already stored the nutrients, it hits the ground running when the spring growing season begins. 
  • It protects the grass from winter diseases such as snow mold. 
  • It helps the grass to green up quickly in spring. 
  • Since it enables the roots to continue growing until the ground freezes, the deep roots help the grass to withstand high temperatures in the other months. 
  • It strengthens the grass’ cell walls so that the grass can retain water and survive during winter.
  • It enables the grass to tolerate winter stress, such as cold temperatures and cold winds.

What’s the Best Winter Fertilizer for Lawns?

There’s no shortage of winter fertilizers in the market, and finding the best one for your needs can be pretty challenging. In essence, the best winter fertilizer for lawns should have a higher percentage of Nitrogen (N) and Potassium (K) than other lawn fertilizers. I would recommend Scotts WinterGuard (available on Amazon) as the best winter fertilizer for lawns.

I recommend Scotts WinterGuard because it contains high percentages of the primary macronutrients; nitrogen and potassium, with no phosphorus. Its Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (N-P-K) ratios are 32-0-10. This means that it provides 32% Nitrogen (N), 0% Phosphorus (P), and 10% Potassium (K).

Below are some reasons I recommend Scotts WinterGuard as the best winter fertilizer for lawns:

  • It comes in dry pellets (granules) that you can quickly spread on the grass if you have the appropriate spreader.
  • The pellets are excellent as they feed the grass for a more extended period of over three months.
  • Since it’s in pellet form, it’s a slow-release fertilizer and, therefore, safe for your lawn because it releases nutrients gradually. 
  • The slow release also reduces the risk of your grass burning from an overdose of fertilizer; burning could cause untold damage to the lawn.
  • Since it has a high percentage of nitrogen, it helps the roots of the grass to become deeper and stronger, thus assuring you of healthier grass when spring comes. 
  • The nitrogen also delivers nutrients to the grass that help it recover from any damage that may have occurred earlier.
  • The potassium improves the grass’s ability to absorb nutrients and water for survival when the ground freezes.
  • The potassium also prepares the grass for harsh conditions in winter. Such conditions include cold winds and freezing temperatures. 
  • It’s environmentally friendly as it doesn’t contain Phosphorus (P), which can harm the environment. Scotts reformulated its products to work efficiently without phosphorus. 
  • You can apply this winterizer on any type of grass. 

When Should You Put Down Scotts WinterGuard?

The best time to put down Scotts WinterGuard is during late fall (just before winter starts). To be on the safe side, put down Scotts WinterGuard when the leaves start to fall.

Interestingly, plants can sense when winter is around the corner; they start shedding their leaves. This should be around late November or early December if you live in the USA. By this time, you should have given the lawn the last mow for the year, and it should be preparing for dormancy.

In other words, timing is crucial when putting down winterizer fertilizer. Putting down Scotts WinterGuard too early or too late may not have the desired effects. 

For instance, if you put down Scotts WinterGuard too early, your lawn becomes more vulnerable to insect outbreaks that could damage the grass. On the other hand, putting down the winterizer too late could lead to blade damage, root damage, and chemical burns. You could waste time, energy, and money in the long run.

How To Use WinterGuard Fertilizer

As I stated earlier, Scotts WinterGuard fertilizer is in the form of pellets (granular), and using it is, therefore, easy. You can use WinterGuard fertilizer on wet or dry grass. The good news is that you can purchase a Scotts Wizz Spreader (also available on Amazon) to help you apply winterizer fertilizer to your lawn.

This hand-held spreader is specially made for use with this fertilizer. The spreader is excellent to use to put down the winterizer due to the following reasons:

  • It’s battery-powered, making fertilizer application easy and quick. 
  • It’s engineered for even and smooth coverage of your lawn.
  • It has adjustable arm support to give you maximum comfort.
  • It has settings that help you apply the correct amount of fertilizer to your grass for the best results. 
  • It’s a versatile gadget; you can also use it to spread weed control products, grass seeds, and ice melt.
  • It uses EdgeGuard Technology that prevents the fertilizer from falling on non-desired areas. 

Here’s how to use WinterGuard fertilizer:

  1. Mow your lawn so that the winterizer granules can easily access the soil. In addition, this is the last mowing for the year because the grass will become dormant during winter.
  2. Remove the grass clippings; doing so exposes the soil and helps the winterizer to work more efficiently.  
  3. Choose a day when the winds are at their lowest – the wind can blow away the fertilizer granules on a windy day. 
  4. Decide on the section you want to start with; if you have a large lawn, you can feed it in portions.
  5. Read the manufacturer’s winterizer measuring guidelines to avoid underfeeding or overfeeding the grass.
  6. Pour the correct amount of Scott WinterGuard fertilizer into the spreader. 
  7. Start distributing the fertilizer from the perimeter of the lawn. 
  8. Select the correct setting on the spreader based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Pull the trigger to begin spreading the fertilizer and start walking at a steady pace.
  10. Distribute the fertilizer evenly, row by row. 
  11. Follow the manufacturer’s fertilizer application guidelines strictly.
  12. Overlap the fertilizer on the lawn if the manufacturer recommends it; overlapping ensures that the fertilizer reaches every part of the lawn. 
  13. Shut off the spreader when you are through so that it doesn’t pour the remaining fertilizer.
  14. Return any remaining fertilizer to the original packet and secure it properly.
  15. Water the lawn lightly immediately after applying the fertilizer for best results.  

Does Winterizer Fertilizer Need To Be Watered?

Winterizer fertilizer needs to be watered lightly after feeding the lawn. The water gets the fertilizer off the grass blades and into the soil,  breaks down the fertilizer, and activates it to nourish the lawn. If the fertilizer sits too long on the grass without water, it could burn the lawn.

Below are some tips on watering winterizer fertilizer:

  • Feed the fertilizer on dry grass or grass that is slightly wet from dew.
  • Water the lawn lightly because the temperatures are pretty low during late fall. Too much water could make the soil waterlogged, thus affecting the grass’s fertilizer intake.
  • Avoid watering to the point of runoff because this washes away the fertilizer, your effort, time, and money.
  • It’s best to water the lawn early in the morning, just before sunrise, so the water doesn’t evaporate before it breaks down and activates the fertilizer or reaches the roots.
  • Avoid watering the lawn in the evening as this can cause prolonged wetness on the grass blades leading to fungus and disease. 
  • Avoid feeding your lawn just before rainfall because the rain can wash away the fertilizer, and the feeding will be an exercise in futility.
  • When using a winterizer like Scotts WinterGuard, it’s best to water the lawn immediately after feeding it with fertilizer. Since WinterGuard is a granular fertilizer, it’s not of value to the plant in its solid form. The water helps the fertilizer to break down, enter the soil, and start working immediately. 

As long as you follow the above tips and tricks, you’re guaranteed to give your lawn the boost it needs to get through even the harshest winter with relative ease.

Final Thoughts

Feeding your lawn with winter fertilizer for lawns (winterizer) is essential in your annual lawn care. Winterizer prepares your grass to survive through winter and bounce back easily and quickly when spring comes. 

When choosing a winter fertilizer for lawns, you’ll want to go for a high-quality option, such as Scotts WinterGuard. This type of winterizer is high in nitrogen and potassium and, thus, helps your grass to cope with harsh winter conditions and remain healthy until the cold spell is over. In other words, a healthy winter lawn will lead to gorgeous spring growth.

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