Winterizing Your Lawn: Best Fertilizer for Winter

By: Ken Wilson

As fall looms around the corner, the threat of rain and snow might plague homeowners with the damage it can do to their gardens. Winterizing is fundamental in protecting your lawn and encouraging new growth when winter gives way to spring.

So, what is the best fertilizer for winter?

The best fertilizers for winter are applied in the fall to ensure lawn roots remain strong through the cold months. Fertilizers contain a mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Grass food macronutrients can also be organic, better for households with children and pets, or chemical-based.

Whatever your lawn type, there is a fertilizer that can make it winter-ready. Some fertilizers are better for new sod growth, while others are better for greening. They also come as liquids or granules and precise spreading instructions lest you burn your garden. This post will help you choose which product to use if you are stressing about fall fertilizing.

What Fertilizer to Use for Grass in Winter

To prepare and protect your lawn, the best fertilizer for winter is a complete fertilizer. Complete fertilizers have an equal ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) at a ratio of 4-1-2. Winter fertilizers boost root energy stores and encourage the activation of plant proteins, which strengthen it for spring regreening.

Here are five of the best-rated fall and winter fertilizers for lawn.

1. The Andersons, PGF Complete

After 75 years in the grain industry, The Andersons know best what fertilizer to use for winter. Their Professional Grade Fertilizer (PGF) is an excellent fertilizer for winter grass as it has a slow-release nitrogen mechanism. Its super small granules allow for double the coverage per square meter to allow even distribution of nutrients.

Its NPK nutrient ratio is 16-4-8, guaranteeing a jade green lawn and strong roots. The product is partly Humic DG, an organic carbon-based product that assists grasses in processing nutrients and contains iron. You must water this product after application.


  • An 18 lb. bag covers 5,000 sq. ft.
  • The NPK ratio makes it a complete fertilizer.
  • Great base for improving soil porosity.


  • Steep price.
  • Requires additional nitrogen feed for lawns, such as Tifway, that need a higher dosage of nitrogen.
  • Any product left over on non-organic surfaces, e.g., concrete, will leave stains.

2. Simple Lawn, Lawn Food

Simple Lawn Solutions provides grass care products perfect for personal use or in commercial settings such as golf courses. Their Advanced Lawn Food Complete Balance is a liquid fertilizer that targets roots to provide lush green turf. This product is excellent for fall maintenance and spring regrowth.

This company has researched for decades to ensure the correct NPK formula is available to clients. Advanced Lawn Food combines nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to enhance chlorophyll, energy storage, and photosynthesis activation. In addition, they add seaweed and fish emulsion to optimize nutrient intake.


  • Its NPK ratio makes it a complete fertilizer.
  • Easy to use sprayer application.
  • An 18 oz. bottle covers 3,200 sq. ft.


  • Reapplication is necessary every 3-4 weeks.
  • The fertilizer needs additional assistance for lawns with high nitrogen needs, like Bermuda.

3. Jonathan Green, Lawn Food For Seeding & Sodding

Despite being a starter fertilizer, Jonathan Green’s Seeding and Sodding Lawn Food is perfect for preparing grass for the cold of winter. This granulated plant food best applies to new sods or fresh seeding areas. It helps tackle installation during the fall season.

This fertilizer has an NPK of 12-18-8, making it the product with the highest phosphorus in the nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratio on this list. The high phosphorus makes it an excellent starter fertilizer for establishing new seeds and transplanted sods, as this macronutrient jump-starts development in the root system. Strong roots are essential when heading into the winter months.


  • A 15-pound bag covers up to 5,000 sq. ft.
  • Safe to use around children and pets.
  • Great for establishing new roots and seeds.
  • It provides late-season growth.


  • Excessive phosphorus levels can interfere with plant nitrogen and oxygen absorption and exacerbate micronutrient deficiencies.
  • The NPK ratio is not balanced.

4. Scotts, Turf Builder Winterguard

After the stress and strain of summer, Scotts Turf Builder is a great way to reintroduce nutrients to your lawn’s roots and help it rebuild through the winter months. This product should be fed to your garden in the fall to ensure a good turnaround in spring.

With an NPK of 32-0-10, Winterguard has an incredibly effective nitrogen content, perfect for greening your grass and controlling weed growth. While you can apply it to wet or dry lawns, it is advisable to water in fertilizer after application.


  • Easy to spread.
  • This product does not clump.
  • A 10 lb. bag covers 4,000 sq ft.
  • High nitrogen content is perfect for fussy lawns like Tifway or Bermuda.


  • Not an effective weed killer.
  • If applied unevenly (on the wrong spreading setting), it may cause chemical burns.
  • It’s not a ‘complete’ fertilizer.

5. Safer Brand, Lawn Restore

Safer Brand’s Lawn Restore is a product suitable for use year-round. It’s particularly great for winterizing your yard for the cold and drought of winter. The brand engineered this winter fertilizer to bring vitality back into the soil and promote a thicker, healthier grass.

It has an NPK ratio of 9-0-2, with nitrogen and potassium being its only components. The granulated product relies on slowly releasing macronutrients into the soil and roots.


  • Safe to be used around children and pets after proper application.
  • A 20 lb. bag covers 5,000 sq ft.
  • Natural fertilizer.
  • High nitrogen content is beneficial to lawn growth and proteins found in plants.
  • It does not cause chemical burns to the plants.


  • Inconsistent granule size makes it difficult to spread evenly.
  • It can be dusty and tricky to apply when it is windy.
  • Lawn Restore is not a ‘complete’ fertilizer.

When to Apply Winter Fertilizer

The best time to winterize your lawn would be in the fall before the weather becomes too harsh, as applying fertilizer in the cooler months may cause untimely growth. Before applying fertilizer, you should also test your soil for a neutral PH level and remove any weeds. Additionally, consider using cool-weather grass for extra coverage.

Once you have prepared your garden, the next step is to choose what fertilizer to use for grass in winter.

Final Thoughts

The best time to winterize your lawn is in the fall. Adding fertilizer to a garden in the lead-up to winter is a way to ensure the grass roots store energy and are protected so it can grow again in spring.

Fertilizers have a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratio that determines the percentage of macronutrients they add to the lawn. A ‘complete’ fertilizer has a ratio of 4-1-2 and is considered the best choice for most grass types. However, many turfs have additional demands, like high nitrogen or phosphorus, affecting which fertilizer is best for lawns in winter.

About the author 

Ken Wilson

Long time career in the home services industry from remodeling to patio construction. Currently residing to in SWFL and active contributor to multiple home & garden publications.