Burnt grass from fertilizer

Dispelling Common Fertilizer Misconceptions

While the time for fall fertilization is right around the corner, it’s also important to take great care when choosing fertilizers to ensure your customer’s lawn doesn’t get burned in the process.

When lawns get more fertilizer than they can process, burn occurs, and it can happen due to many conditions, such as applying an excess of fertilizer, overall turf health or weather conditions. When these fertilizers accumulate, their salts will draw the water away from the root systems, which results in the lawns turning yellow or brown and eventually dying.

Before you decide on which fertilizer would best suit your customer’s landscape, check out some of the differences between nitrogen sources and how knowing these differences could help you avoid burning the turf.

Get to know the product

Getting to know your fertilizers and what goes into them is crucial before doing any kind of application.

The three major ingredients needed by lawns are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK). Nitrogen is required the most, but keep in mind that too much nitrogen can cause an excessive amount of top growth, which can cause problems.

It’s also good to remember that the type of nitrogen used in the fertilizers will play into how they can be used. Some companies manufacture nitrogen fertilizers and input suppliers will mine the materials to make phosphorus or potassium fertilizers.

Other companies can take these products and add stabilizers or coatings that will create stabilized, slow-release and controlled-release formulas, which then creates enhanced-efficiency fertilizers (EEFs).

The fertilizers will then be blended and made into the final product, and the percentage of EEFs in the fertilizers will affect how long the blend will be able to feed the turf. Blends that contain 50 percent or more EEF are better at enhancing the longevity of the fertilizer.

Slow-release fertilizers

To help reduce the burn potential, it’s recommended that you use fertilizers that are the slow-release variety.

“Look for turf fertilizers that have at least a portion, 25 percent or more, of their nitrogen in the form of slow-release N,” the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension says online. “Your (customer’s) lawn will benefit from lower risk of fertilizer burn, and the growth will be more even. The environment will benefit from lower risk of fertilizer moving into ground and surface water, and you will benefit from having a beautiful lawn that needs to be mowed and fertilized less often.”

Since the nitrogen sources in this type are controlled release, it will take longer to see a noticeable change in the growth and greening, but taking time to discuss these slow changes with the customer beforehand will help set his/her mind at ease when it comes to expectations.

It’s also worth mentioning that not all slow-release fertilizers will contain only controlled-release nitrogen. Many products will contain a mixture of both fast and slow-release nitrogen sources, which can ultimately provide a good balance of fast coloring, reduction of burn and increased product longevity.

Typically, slow-release fertilizers will be a bit more costly, but it could end up saving your customer money per application due to the controlled aspect of the product.

Even though the likelihood of turf burn is lower when using slow-release fertilizers, it’s still a good idea to irrigate the turf thoroughly after applying.

Quick-release fertilizers

Quick-release fertilizers, as the name would indicate, provide a fast availability of nitrogen to the lawn after it’s been applied.

The benefits associated with this type of fertilizer are quicker greening and rapid growth, although this can vary depending on your customer’s lawn and location. Because these fertilizers are based on water-soluble nitrogen (WSN), the nutrients will be available to the turf once dissolved in water, which can typically happen when an irrigation system is involved.

The nitrogen in quick-release fertilizers will have a higher salt index, which means they can burn heat-stressed lawns because they will draw moisture out of the grass. This along with the everyday heat sapping the moisture from the area could prove detrimental to the turf.

To try and keep your customer’s lawn from feeling the burn, immediately irrigate the area after applying the quick-release fertilizers to help move the nitrogen into the soil and off the top of the grass.

Fertilizer Injury – Lawns

Banded streaks or irregular patterns in the lawn may be the result of uneven or excessive fertilizer application. Many lawn fertilizers contain readily available forms of nitrogen and the turf quickly responds to the fertilizer application. Areas where fertilizer was applied develop a rich green color and areas that were skipped, or where fertilizer was applied unevenly, remain lighter green or yellow in color. To remedy the situation, carefully apply fertilizer to the areas that were missed. Avoid reapplying fertilizer to areas that were already fertilized.

Fertilizer injury may occur if too much fertilizer is applied. Many fertilizers contain soluble salts, which can burn root tissues causing the lawn to turn brown if fertilizer is heavily applied. As a general practice, water the lawn thoroughly after fertilizing to wash fertilizer off the grass blades and into the soil. If excess fertilizer has been applied, soak the affected area with one-inch applications of water, three to four times, to help leach excess salts from the soil.

To avoid problems with fertilizer, measure your lawn to determine the square footage and calibrate spreaders or sprayers for uniform and accurate application of materials.

Additional Resources

Fertilizer Tips

Fertilizer Tips

Download this page in PDF

NEW SOD LAWNS

For new sod, it is critical to get the roots established quickly. A fertilizer with an adequate amount of phosphorus is best. By applying a fertilizer with a listing of 16-16-16 (at a rate of: 6.5 lbs / 1000 sq. ft.) to the bare ground, and watering it in lightly before installing the turf, you will greatly help to establish these new roots. Fertilize your new lawn about 4 weeks after installation, with a balanced fertilizer such as 16-16-16. Fertilize the lawn when it is dry, followed by a thorough watering. This will reduce the chance of burning the grass. The first 2–3 applications should be with a balanced fertilizer, after which you can follow the guidelines for established lawns provided below.

NEW SEEDED LAWNS

For newly seeded lawns, (either hydroseeded or hand seeded) it is important to supply starter fertilizer at the time of seeding. Country Green’s Hydroseeding includes 16–16–16 starter fertilizer. Perform an application after the new lawn has been mowed once or twice (about 30 days after seeding). Fertilize your new lawn, then again about 30 days later. After that, follow the guidelines for established lawns

ESTABLISHED LAWNS

For established lawns, aim toward 4–6 fertilizer applications per year (each one supplying about 1 lb. of Nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft.). Suggested applications dates can vary depending on weather (especially early spring and/or late fall) and on your level of expectations. These are general guidelines to follow. Fewer or more applications may be necessary depending upon soil type, weather conditions, etc. Remember to apply fertilizer to a dry lawn, then water in well as soon as possible.

This schedule suggests timing for 6 fertilizer applications per year.
The number of applications will vary depending on the needs of your lawn.
It is best to never apply more than 1 lb of Nitrogen per 1000 square feet at any single application

Approximately APRIL 1st Spring fertilizer (such as 12-2-8 w/ Moss control).
Approximately MAY 15th Summer fertilizer (such as 25-0-5 w/ slow release).
Approximately JULY 1st Summer fertilizer (such as 25-0-5 w/ slow release).
Approximately SEPTEMBER 1st Summer fertilizer (such as 25-0-5 w/ slow release).
Approximately OCTOBER 15th Summer fertilizer (such as 25-0-5 w/ slow release).
Approximately DECEMBER 1st Fall fertilizer (such as 21-0-21)

If weeds develop, avoid “Weed and Feeds” (fertilizer and herbicide mixtures). When watered in, the herbicides wash into the roots and can burn them. For best results, use a liquid herbicide spray (such as Bayer Advanced Lawn Weed & Crabgrass Killer or equivalent) and let it dry a minimum of one hour before watering the lawn.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions when using weed killer paying particular attention to limits regarding newly seeded lawns.

Do NOT apply weed killers to newly seeded lawns until 3 months old.

  • “My lawn is yellow or light green”. It is time to fertilize. An overall yellowing of the lawn indicates nutrient deficiency.
  • “I fertilized, but there are stripes in my lawn”. Usually indicated by uneven application of fertilizer. If you are using a drop spreader, apply half the rate, then turn 90º and apply the second half perpendicular to the first application. This will reduce the chance of skips and overlaps resulting in a more even greening up of your lawn.
  • “I fertilized my lawn, but am not seeing any response.” This could be due to several factors. Make sure the correct amount was applied and that enough time has passed from the time of application (4 to 7 days). Other factors could be a lack of water, soil compaction, too low of soil pH, lack of soil microbial activity (a problem especially in really wet soils, or during winter months) or high amount of wood product in the soil (this tends to tie up the nutrients, making them unavailable to the turf)

WHAT DO THE NUMBERS ON THE BAG MEAN?

All fertilizers have a chemical listing of N-P-K. Which means that a fertilizer listing of 28-7-14, for example, is 28% Nitrogen, 7% Phosphorous, and 14% Potassium. Some fertilizers contain trace elements, slow release nitrogen, and organic sources of nutrients.

N= Nitrogen (N). Nitrogen is the first number in the analysis on the bag. Nitrogen is a component of chlorophyll (responsible for green color of plants) and is required for nearly all growth processes in turf. Nitrogen is important for new and established lawns. Top growth occurs at the expense of root growth, so excessive amounts of Nitrogen can restrict root growth. Quick release and slow release types available (i.e. Picture shows a fertilizer with slow release.

P = Phosphorous (P2 O5). Phosphorous is the second number in the analysis. This nutrient is for root development and is especially important for young turf. The rapid growth associated with germination requires phosphorous, therefore it is essential in starter fertilizers. Less is required in established turf.

K = Potassium (K2 O). Potassium, (also known as Potash) is associated with the plants ability to withstand stress. When supplied to the plant along with adequate amounts of Nitrogen, potassium thickens the cell wall. This makes the plant better able to withstand drought, insects, disease and cold.

HOW MUCH DO I USE?

Follow the label rates on the bag. You can calculate this yourself also. The amount of fertilizer to apply to established lawns is based on the nitrogen level. The recommended amount of Nitrogen to apply for Western Washington is 4–6 pounds of “actual nitrogen” per 1000 sq. ft. per year. Fertilizer should be applied 4-6 applications per year, each one providing approximately 1 lb. of actual Nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft.. The nutrients on a bag of fertilizer are expressed as a true percentage by weight.

Grass Turning Yellow After Fertilizing? Here’s How to Repair.

We often call fertilizer “food for our lawns” because it’s stocked with nutrients that keep turf healthy, green and growing. And fall is the most important time to fertilize the lawn.

But like with anything, too much of a good thing is a bad thing! Did you recently fertilize and now spot yellow grass, brown spots or streaking?

If that sounds familiar, you may have over fertilized your lawn, which is called fertilizer burn. Look for these symptoms, then learn how to repair your suffering turf.

Over Fertilized Lawn… Now What? (Fertilizer Burn Symptoms and Repair)

Look for these symptoms of fertilizer burn in the yard.

The best fertilizers have a blend of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), which all help lawns look their best. Some fertilizers also contain soluble salts, which is where most of the risk comes in.

When you apply too much fertilizer or spill some by accident, the salt buildup can cause fertilizer burn. So, you’ll see brown, yellow or streaked grass. This happens more often with quick-release fertilizers, which flood lawns with nutrients all at once.

Will over fertilized grass grow back?

Healthy grass can bounce back with the right care. You’ll want to make sure the grass is still alive before attempting to revive it. Usually, yellow and brown streaks can recover. But crunchy, brown grass could mean you need to consider replanting.

It’s really tough to tell whether your grass is dead or dormant in summer because they look virtually identical. Your best bet is to check if a few green shoots sprout up after late summer storms. Or if you’re still unsure, ask your local arborist to inspect your lawn.

How to Repair Burned Grass from Fertilizer

Burned lawns will need a generous amount of water to get back to green. It’s important to water your lawn as soon as you spot any brown or yellow patches to prevent further damage. Slowly soak the affected areas every day for about a week to fully flush out the salt. And, keep in mind the best time to water is in the morning!

Check back in on your lawn in a few weeks. The affected areas should be turning green. If not, those areas of your lawn may need to be dug up and over seeded.

And next time, use a slow-release fertilizer to reduce the risk of fertilizer burn–and follow the instructions to a T. Or ensure you get it right by clicking below and having the experts handle it!

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You may take immaculate care of your lawn, but occasionally grass burn out happens. Whether from too little watering in one area, or the excess nitrogen found in dog urine and lawn fertilizer– brown, burned out grass is unsightly amongst an otherwise healthy patch of grass.

Watering solutions are easy to remedy if your grass roots aren’t dead, but what about those areas that have been burned out due to mineral issues? Pet urine causes browning due to the nitrogen found in it which causes vegetation to give water back to the soil rather than take it up- causing a drying out effect. Lawn fertilizer burn can be caused by excess nitrogen as well, or other mineral salts which essentially do much of the same- causing drying and a general brown, burned out look.

Luckily these areas are typically contained unless you’ve experienced widespread fertilizer burn from fertilizer application. The good news is they don’t spread on their own (it isn’t a disease and isn’t catchy) and you can begin to correct the problem fairly easily, although you may need some patience depending on the damage.

Table of Contents

WHAT YOU NEED:

Depending on the depth of the damage, which I’ll explain, you may need all, or only some of the following. Before gathering up materials at the store, make sure to complete step one.

SPRINKLERS

METAL RAKE

GRASS SEED OR SOD

TILLER

STEP 1: CHECK YOUR GRASS ROOTS

Burn out may only occur at the vegetative level, meaning your roots may still be healthy. This is especially true if you catch the burn as it begins and it hasn’t been occurring over a long period of time. Fertilizer burn is often noticed within the first few days of application, and when this happens, quickly check the roots.

If the roots are healthy and moist, then all you need to do is water- a lot.

What to Remember:
Some roots may still be healthy, while others are not. Make sure to check more than one area of the burn out to establish exactly how wide spread the damage is.

STEP 2: WATER, AND KEEP WATERING

No matter how extensive the damage, or what the cause is, you need to water, and then water some more. Water helps flush nitrogens and other minerals into the soils and allows them to more quickly dissipate into a less concentrated solution.

You’ll want to put down about an inch of water a day for at least a week to make sure that you’ve truly gotten the worst of it taken care of. This is especially true if your damage is caused by an accidental over fertilization. Hopefully if you have caught the burn early enough this will take care of the worst of the damage and you will begin to see some new growth occurring by the end of the week or soon after.

What to Remember:

Use sprinklers to more evenly water the areas in question, also applying water to areas not affected to help keep the culprit leaching through the soils more evenly throughout the yard

STEP 3: REASSESS YOUR ROOTS

After watering you’ve hopefully begun to experience new grass growth, but if not, or if it’s sporadic, it’s a good bet the roots were fired as well. If this is the case you need to start getting ready to replace these areas with either grass seed or sod to bring back the green.

Just make sure to check your roots are moist and healthy. I they are shriveled and brown there is no saving them- especially after a week of watering well.

What to Remember:

Don’t assume your grass is dead before trying to water. Even if you are positive it is dead, you still need to leach the remaining minerals from the soil before laying new sod or replanting or you will only start the cycle over again.

STEP 4: RAKE AND TILL THE AFFECTED AREAS

Rake up all the dead, brown grass, and then till the areas loosely to provide a good substrate in which your new grass can take root easily. Raking helps pull up any packed down grasses as well to allow for better water access to living roots. Tilling also provides better moisture access as well as places for grass seed to be protected if that is your choice of correction.

What to Remember:

Leaving the dead grass in place may inhibit new sod roots from reaching deeply into the soil beneath, plus the ground may have packed too tightly for grass seed to get a good start.

STEP 5: RE-SOD OR RESEED

Depending on the size of the burnt area, or your budget, you will need to choose to either re-sod or reseed the area. Smaller areas may benefit from reseeding rather than laying new sod, but larger areas may require sod if you don’t want to be staring at larger patches of brown for any longer than you already have.

Depending on the type of grass seed you have, be sure to follow the directions to get good coverage and growth.

What to Remember:

Be sure to push sod down well to make sure roots can get a firm hold on the soil beneath. You also may want to provide a thin covering of straw or something else to grass seed to protect it both from elements and critters.

STEP 6: WATER AND MAINTAIN

New grass seed and sod both need to be watered well in order to get started. Water sod daily and well to help get the roots growing and to keep them from drying out as water will initially leach through new sod pretty quickly.

New grass should be spread on well watered soils, and then kept constantly moist until new growth is at least a week old. Wait until your new grass, whether it be sod or seeded, is about three inches high until you cut it.

What to Remember:

Cut your new grass high to help it establish deep roots, and leave the cuttings to help keep the ground moist and provide natural nutrients to the newly growing vegetation.

STEP 7: PREVENTATIVE CARE

Make sure you are watering properly for your grass type, and that you mow high to help roots grow deep.

Water immediately after fertilizing to help get it into the soils and not linger on the surface where it may be more concentrated.

If you dog is your burn out culprit, feed them foods that do not exceed their protein requirements and encourage them to drink more water. You can also train them to go in only one area that is out of sight.

Make sure to spread fertilizer according to the directions. This includes using the correct type of spreader. Many times fertilizer types and spreaders, or liquid solutions, are the cause of a too highly concentrated application- which causes the damage.

Use a natural fertilizer rather than a chemical based one. These often have very soluble materials that more easily work their way into the soil.

CONCLUSION

If you have burned out a grassy area for any reason, do not despair! Hopefully it is a simple fix that can easily be remedied with a weeks worth of water. But if not, then a little bit of patience and simple care is all you need to get it looking like new. Preventative measures truly are your best bet, but even the most careful of lawn owners can have an accident occur.

Hopefully this article has provided you with some simple steps to follow to fix your lawn, and keep it looking great for years to come. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. And as always, please share!

*You might also like: Lawn Fertilizer Guide

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CeeDee – posted 19 June 2001 06:41

Hi All,

This is my first time here and I was hoping to get some solid advice on resolving my problem of fertilizer burn-out.

I am a new home owner and last weekend was the first time I decided to try my hand at fertilizing the lawn myself. Unfortunately, I goofed up big time . I have found that a number of areas have turned brown since I did the fertilizing, and neither have I been watering the lawn too much.

The questions I have are ;

1. Do I have to water the lawn regularly after fertilizing, and would that have prevented the fertilizer burn-out ?

2. Is there anything I can do about reviving the (brown) burnt patches, and what would that be ?

3. I have also dug out a patch of grass from root level (or below) when the lawn mower turned over. How can I resolve this problem ? Would I have to patch it with topsoil + grass seed ?

Thanks,

CD

seed – posted 08 July 2001 08:14

Dear CeeDee, first, my apologies because no one got back to you promptly regarding an obviously difficult problem.

Depending on what kind of grass you have (some are more susceptible to fertilizer burn), my rule is not to fertilize when the grass is wet or the ground is dry.

Fertilizers differ in their burning ability. Some such as ammonium sulfate are quite “hot,” that is they tend to suck up water from anything they get into contact with, human skin, leaves, the air. And if the turf leaf is wet, the fertilizer granules will stick to the leaves and burn them severely.

But assuming that the leaves are not wet, in my exprerience in Florida, even the hottest fertilizer put out at the right rate does not burn lawn grass. Although not the preferred practice, such a fertilizer application can be watered in a day or two later, or watered in with rain water. But, a light watering (less than half an inch) is always desirable just to knock the material off the leaves. And if your turf is already under drought stress (dry soil) you’ve got a worsened problem, though not as bad as when hot fertilizer is applied to wet leaves.

In the worst case if you are fertilizing a sensitive turf like bentgrass, or a closely mown golf green, you would either expect some burn, or not want to face the consequences, so a light watering in would be strongly advised. Under the worst case, fertilizer has been used to control weeds and remove undesirable turfgrases.

Probably of more consequence for the lawn than watering is the possibility overapplication. Let’s assume that it wasn’t your watering, but that you just put out too much fertilizer. If so, then depending on what kind of grass you have, it will probably recover over time. But the more rain and water that is applied to the burned areas, the sooner that they will be able to grow again. Other than time and water, I don’t know of anything else to do.

I didn’t understand the part about the lawn mower turning over. If you mean that it flipped upside down, that’s hard to picture, but sounds very unsafe to the operator. If you mean “turned over” as in “the engine turned over” then perhaps you were mowing too closely?

Phil

Ram – posted 04 October 2002 17:52

Hi,

I also did the same mistake that you did… Over Fertilize the lawn and due to this the grass is getting dry (Florida). I would like to know if your problem got rectified and if so , how… Pl let me know,so I can do the same to get my greener lawn back..

ThanksRam

MJK – posted 29 June 2003 16:36

Help,I have the same problem, but I live in Vermont. After laying a beautiful sod lawn last fall I decided to fertilize yesterday. Conditions were dry and sunny. The rain had ended last week and the lawn was getting a bit brown. Now it is all brown!Besides time and water is there anything else that one can do?Am I doomed or will it come back.Somebody please help me

Dchall_San_Antonio – posted 30 June 2003 00:09

If you are interested in changing to organic fertilizer, you will be rid of this concern forever. I call it ‘ending the hassle.’ Organic fertilizers cannot burn because they have to be metabolized by soil microbes before any fertilizer is released to the plants. You can water it or not and still nothing can burn the grass. You literally cannot make a mistake. You can apply it any day of the year; rain or shine; morning, noon, or night.

My favorite organic fertilizer is corn meal; second favorite is alfalfa pellets. Both products are sold at feed stores in bulk for about $5.00 to $6.00 for a 50 pound bag.

The application rate is 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet for nearly all organic fertilizers. If you accidently dump an entire bag on one spot, just sweep it up and spread it around. The only way you could hurt the grass is if you smothered it by covering the grass blades.

Agricultural corn meal is basically the same as food grade corn meal except for the way it has been stored over its life. Either product works as well as the other. The only difference is price.

Corn gluten meal is a different product with a different price. It happens to make a great fertilizer but the high cost sort of self-regulates its use for that.

ah – posted 20 July 2005 12:56

I need help pleas!

I live in NY and have just spent a fortune putting down Kentucky Blue Grass Sod a couple of months ago. The grass looked beautiful so I decided to take on fertilizing it myself to maintain it. I applied Scotts Super Turf Builder with Summer Guard this past weekend. I followed the directions, but yikes, it was really hard to control the amount to apply. As a result I now have brown patches everywhere. I’m so stressed over this and I don’t know if it’ll turn green again? Please help me.

Learn About Fertilizer Burn Of Plants

Using too much fertilizer can damage or even kill your lawn and garden plants. This article answers the question, “What is fertilizer burn?” and describes the fertilizer burn symptoms as well as how to prevent and treat it.

What is Fertilizer Burn?

Simply put, fertilizer burn is a condition that results in the burning or scorching of plant foliage. Fertilizer burn is the result of over fertilizing plants or applying fertilizer to wet foliage. Fertilizer contains salts, which draw moisture out of plants. When you apply excess fertilizer to plants, the result is yellow or brown discoloration and root damage.

Fertilizer burn symptoms may appear within a day or two, or it may take a couple of weeks if you use a slow-release fertilizer. Symptoms include yellowing, browning and withering. In lawns, you may see white, yellow or brown streaks that follow the pattern in which you applied the fertilizer.

Preventing Fertilizer Burn

The good news is that fertilizer burn can be prevented. Here are some tips on preventing fertilizer burn on plants:

  • Fertilize each plant according to its needs. You won’t get better results when you use more fertilizer and you run the risk of damaging or killing your plants.
  • Slow-release fertilizer reduces the chances of fertilizer burn of plants by releasing the salts into the soil gradually rather than all at once.
  • Fertilizing your plants with compost eliminates the risk of fertilizer burn. Most plants thrive when fed with a 1- to 2-inch layer of compost once or twice a year.
  • Plants are more susceptible to fertilizer burn during a drought because the fertilizer will become more concentrated in the soil. Wait until moisture conditions improve.
  • Never fertilize wet lawns or allow fertilizer to come in contact with wet leaves.
  • Water deeply and thoroughly after applying granular fertilizer to rinse the fertilizer off the plants and allow the salts to distribute themselves evenly in the soil.

How to Treat Fertilizer Injury

If you suspect you may have over fertilized your plants, treat the area as soon as possible. Treat spillage by scooping up as much of the fertilizer as possible. The only thing you can do for over fertilized soil is flush the soil with as much water as it will hold over the next few days.

Don’t allow the water to run off. Toxic runoff can contaminate nearby areas and may get into waterways where it causes substantial damage to the environment. Water slowly to allow the water to sink in rather than run off.

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

Many chemical burns are small, but they can be deeper than they look. It depends on the chemical, how strong it is, and how long it is in contact with the skin.

All chemical burns should be treated as a medical emergency. If you suspect a chemical burn, call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

For help and advice about poison, call the poisons information hotline on 13 11 26 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Chemical burn first aid

If the chemical is on the skin, wash it off immediately with a large quantity of water, continuing for 20 minutes.

Remove contaminated clothing or footwear – but do not pick off anything that is stuck to the skin. Make sure the person giving the first aid doesn’t come into contact with the chemical.

If the chemical is in the eye, tilt the head to the side and protect the other eye. Then gently flush the eye with cool water for 20 minutes.

Cover the burn with a sterile dressing that won’t stick to the skin.

Types of chemical burn

Most chemical burns are caused by either strong acids or strong bases, which can be found in products such as:

  • bleach
  • concrete mix
  • drain or toilet bowl cleaners
  • metal cleaners
  • pool chlorinators
  • phosphorous (found in fireworks and fertilizers)
  • petrol

Chemical burns often happen by accident, but they can also result from an assault, self-harm or a suicide attempt. They are most likely to affect the face, eyes, limbs, hands or feet. Chemicals can also burn you inside if they are swallowed.

Chemical burn symptoms

A chemical burn is similar to a burn caused by heat. Symptoms of a chemical burn include:

  • redness and burning at the site
  • pain or numbness
  • blisters
  • blackened skin

A chemical burn to the eye can cause vision problems, and a chemical burn to the lungs can cause coughing or shortness of breath.

If the burn is very severe, symptoms can include:

  • low blood pressure
  • dizziness and faintness
  • headache
  • seizure
  • irregular heart beat or a heart attack

Chemical burn diagnosis

Chemical burns should always be seen by a doctor, who will check your airways, breathing and circulation. They will also ask you for as much information as possible about the type of chemical that caused the burn. They will ask how much there was, how long it was in contact with your skin, and what has already been done to care for the burn.

Chemical burn treatment

If you have a minor chemical burn, you probably won’t be admitted to hospital. You should follow your doctor’s instructions to keep the wound clean and prevent it from drying out. Your doctor will also advise you on appropriate pain relief and what creams and dressings are to be applied.

More serious burns will need treatment in hospital to control pain, prevent infection and manage any problems with breathing or circulation caused by the burn. The wound will be carefully monitored.

Chemical burn prevention

  • Always read and follow the instructions when using products containing chemicals.
  • Always wear safety gloves and eye protection when handling chemicals.
  • Take note of any warnings on the package and make sure you understand them.
  • Always wash your hands after using a product containing chemicals.
  • Make sure all containers containing chemicals are labelled.
  • Always store chemicals in a safe place, out of the reach of children.
  • Have first aid supplies on hand to treat a chemical burn.

More information

For help and advice about chemical burns, contact the NSW Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.

For chemical burns first aid, download the St John factsheet, Burns First Management Guide.

This transcription will have some mistakes because it is partially automated.

Hey guys! It’s Phil from smiling.gardener.com, and I, as I, as I kinda of loaded to last week, I think in my written blog, I over fertilized my garden last week, and I want to show you what that looks like and give you a few tips.

I just realized that matters most show you the compost tea, I have brew in here which I will be applying tomorrow, supposed I should make a video about compost tea sometime, so here’s what happened and I realized that I over fertilized my garden about 24hours later or something I was just doing something out here, and I was like “ahhhh…” and what happened is I had you know I did everything right.

I had a soil test, and I followed their recommendations, you know most of their recommendations that I did a couple of things in my own that I thought made sense. And then about a week after that, there was one nutrient that I had not got around to applying and that was boron. Now boron is something that’s needed at like, yeah! It’s like one to two parts per million that boron is needed. So it’s a tiny tiny, it’s a trace mineral really, but very important.

Boron is needed for, it works a lot with calcium to help transport water and nutrients throughout the plants, it’s really important for fruiting and you know I’ve been reading a lot about boron in the last half year, because I wrote a book and I just learning about it, and got excited about it. And so what I found out that I had just little bit of a boron deficiency.

I thought cool I’ll bring in some boron, and it’s really useful, it’s really useful when you’re seeding to have enough boron and soil and stuff like that.

But what I did, was I over fertilized my garden, I did this about a week after I read the soil test, and just- in my head I had 20 pounds. And of course, on a soil test, it’s often gonna be per acre. Soil was 20 pounds per acre and I had in my head that it was 20 pounds per thousand square feet.

Which stupid coz I know that boron is just like this little trace nutrients, so I’m sitting here with a box of borox which is a common way to apply boron and I’m putting borox all over my garden, not thinking that you know of course, you only often using a teaspoon and tablespoon of this stuff.

So silly me, anyway, that’s okay so what else I do is I’ll show you which showing up on some of the plants is what I believe is, is a boron toxicity. It’s not that what I walk around knowing what boron toxicity looks like that’s not what I think about that often.

But I look it up, and you know if I didn’t know that I just applied what I end applying is about 30 times too much boron. If I had not known that I would not noticed born toxicity it could look like a lot of other things you know, that’s why it really hard to look at the plant.

Like some people claimed to do and know for sure that’s it’s just a for certain deficiency or toxicity, it’s little more complicated than that. But in this case, since I know I just applied 30 times too much boron, I’m thinking, it’s a born toxicity.

So let’s just have a look here. You know I have some, I don’t know what you’ll be able to see. I have some Thrives they’re starting to yellow a little bit on the ends. My oregano, starting to get some little brown spots, a parsley, it has a couple of leaves and it’s turning a little bit brown, my some my garlic is turning, and onions are tuning into yellow at the ends, not that one so much. But if we really walk over and look at the tomatoes, tomatoes are kinda of sensitive plants so you can see it really well in them.

Right down there, and it’s a especially the order leaves which makes sense and you know it’s not so much the younger, newer leaves appear, they seem not as affected a little bit on the tips. So I don’t know if you could see that, and the yeah! There’s a couple others too and you know some don’t seem to be affected as much.

You know we’ll see what happens, in this case, a lot of this here was a sheet mulch. I would not always plant in to anyway. So it’s not the end of the world to me, I have more garden over there that I didn’t apply many borax too, so I have lots of place/space to grow food.

But also, you know, boron is a minerals so it’s not just something that’s not gonna disappear if I leave it for a year, so we’ll see what happens, anyway, that’s overfertilization, so what I thought I do is give a few tips here, I guess it’s gonna be a little bit long video but just some tips if you happened to have overfertilized you garden.

You know the first one that you’ll hear often is water the area really well and I think for the most part that makes a lot of sense, so I certainly did that. You know, the ideas that you’re gonna water some of the- whatever you overfertilized with. I’m talking about boron today, but usually when people overfertilizes their garden, it’s gonna be a chemical N-P-K fertilizers or something like that or a weed and feed.

In that case, you know you just want to water it and hopefully some of that will leach out. Now, it could be that you just watering it down throughout the whole roots zone, but to me it makes sense to do that, so that’s number one.

Number two tips when you overfertilized your garden is, you know you can go on line and look for look for, look for (oh, my hands are getting tired) look for in gardening forums and things like that but just be wary of following those recommendations because often people just spoke of stuff that’s doesn’t make any sense to me.

You know, I was looking at for my boron thing and people were saying things that did not make a lot of sense. Now often times that what they do is to recommend you to apply a certain nutrient to counteract your nutrient and that maybe an okay idea but it’s not that simple, that you can just go and apply you know, soil is more complicated than that.

What I would do is I would contact your soil lab, you know, or if you have soil test results like I did, contact your soil lab and I didn’t do that and the reason I didn’t, is coz I’ve been bugging them a lot lately with a lot of questions that I felt kinda like a they’re getting sick of me.

That’s stupid, I shouldn’t done that, because this is the big issue, I have boron all over the place, and maybe they would have said something and maybe they would have told me to apply certain nutrient and that I would, I would trust you know, what I actually end up doing because I know boron and calcium work a lot together as I applied a little bit of calcitic lime and a little bit of liquid calcium.

Hoping that I would kinda tie up a little bit of the boron, maybe that’s wishful thinking. But I knew it’s a good time of year that would be applying that. Anyway, so just a little bit of that in that case, I was comfortable with that, but people on the forums were recommending you know, gypsum and other stuffs and you know, I just don’t know if you can always trust that unless you can collaborate a few different resources.

So that’s that tip, next tip when you overfertilized your garden is don’t go applying fertilizers unless you know you need them. Now in my case, I did I had a soil test result and I just did a stupid mathing. But I, you know, in this case, it was boron if it’s really not gonna be the end of the world, if I didn’t apply boron, you know, I was putting compost tea, and I was applying a broad spectrum things like sea minerals.

I probably, had enough boron with that and I was just getting a little too cute with trying to perfect the soil. You know, it’s not that simple that you just- I just think it’s better to used the precautionary principles and apply things more when you know you’ll need them.

Certainly as I said that before, you wanna have soil test which I did have soil test you wanna have some soil test as I talk about in the academy. You know I say don’t worry about these things like boron and I am breaking my own advise, but don’t worrying on those things until you’ve work on the main things which is calcium, phosphorus, you know, you’re not gonna do as much damage by applying some lime.

As long as you know which lime to apply based on a soil test, so do all of these based on a soil test. Definitely, don’t go applying N-P-K fertilizers, just for this, just for good measure. You know, coz you’ll probably don’t need those nutrients, it certainly not the proportions that they are in the fertilizers, like you know like 10 10 10 or something like that you know that’s –that’s not make sense to do that.

The other one is, you know, organic fertilizers can cause problems, too. Boron can be used in organic or cultured if you have a documented boron deficiency, so you kinda call it organic fertilizer. I’ve burned plants leaves before by applying too much fish, too much sea minerals, it’s possible to apply too much effective microornament, effective microorganisms and you could ferment, you can ferment the plants. It’s very, you know, this fermenting microbes, it’s just if you have young, tender leaves, you could apply too much if you don’t deluded enough. So this can happen with organic fertilizers.

You guys getting sick of tired, getting tired of looking at my face? I have a lot of tips here, the last one that I can think of is, you know when I- when I learned, I did learned how to do timberframing that in Costa Rica. One thing that I learned there is measure twice, cut once cause when you laid out this big log and you’ve really done a lot of time measuring it and it’s very easy to cut wrong and you’re in trouble.

So same with fertilizing, you know look at the label make sure you know how much to apply, it usually less than you think and look at your soil test, make sure you’ve figure out if it’s pounds per acre or pounds per thousand square feet and just take your time and do that.

So I’ve -I think that’s all of my tips I have for today for overfertilized garden. So, yeah! Just you know fertilized with caution, don’t go applying a bunch of stuff just for a good measure. If you do overfertilized, call a soil lab, a good soil lab, try to – you know maybe apply some water, water over the roots zone.

OH! Another Yes! I do have another tip, last tip is apply some, I think it would be a good idea to apply some humate. If you have humate acids because they tie up the toxins in the soil. I know they can tie up certain things, and I wonder if they would tie up with some of the boron.

Also, if you apply organic matter and some, some compost tea like I’m brewing here or some EM maybe some of those microbes would do something with the- those nutrients that you have in there that you have too much of, maybe they’ll get them to their bodies, maybe they’ll biologically transmit them into something else.

You know, we don’t really know, but if you can improve that soil food web, maybe they will help buffer those toxins and so will the humates, humate acids organic matter.

So that’s my last tip, so that’s I don’t know how long this video gonna be but hopefully you’ll still with me. If haven’t picked up those 15 Vital Organic Lessons for Becoming a Better Organic Gardener, you can get those at smilinggardener.com, right on the main page there.

And those are just a bunch of lessons that I think that are really cool, that I thought were really cool when I was studying organic gardening so for the first time. So hopefully this has been helpful for you today, I hope you’re enjoying your gardening season and I’ll see you next week.

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