Fertilization spread on the surface encourages grass to grow shoots on the surface. Fertilized grass has a harder time accessing water from the soil. This grass needs frequent watering.
Soil compaction follows when fertilizer is applied. Grassroots do not go into the soil to open it up to bacteria and fungi. Earthworms are unable to burrow through compacted soil. The ability to hold water is greatly reduced.
Fertilized grass has a withered appearance due to lack of water. Lawn-owners irrigate more, and this puts a strain on water resources. During times of reduced rainfall, this need to water lawns is a problem.
The degradation of soils due to fertilizers is also a problem globally. Due to our planet’s rising temperatures and changing climate, freshwater resources are more important to protect today than ever before. Fertilizers have been linked to an increase in “evapotranspiration,” the movement of water from soil and plants to the atmosphere. Since modern droughts have been linked to soil evaporation more than any other factor, fertilizing can both increase our vulnerability to drought and further deplete our freshwater reserves.
This stress on water resources can be reduced by changing our lawn care practices. The benefits of not spreading fertilizer on the lawn are that worms burrow, grass roots grow deep, and far less water is needed because it is held in the soil.