Say the word "fertilizer," and most people think of the dark brown, odious material that is only vaguely separated from its previous life as manure. Yet that's not what most fertilizer is, especially for lawns. With lawn fertilizer, you're more likely to have an odor-free pile of tiny pellets that seep into the soil, eventually breaking up and providing nutrients for nearby roots. Sounds harmless enough, right? Yet you still can't walk on the lawn for a while after fertilizer application. This isn't about not leaving footprints—this is a safety rule meant to protect humans and animals while ensuring the lawn gets its full meal.

Tracking Fertilizer Everywhere

First, if you walk over the freshly spread fertilizer and then go into your home, you could track that fertilizer everywhere, leaving marks and debris. If you were the one to apply the fertilizer, you likely have some on your shoes; change those before you go inside your home and wash off the soles outside. Then give your property's exterior walkways a rinsing to wipe off residue from when you walked off the lawn and onto the walkway.

Also, for the next few days, be extra careful about washing off walkways and wiping your feet. While you can keep your family and pets off the lawn, wild animals like squirrels aren't going to pay attention to you. They can run across the lawn and then across your porch. Extra cleaning ensures residue from those surreptitious squirrel journeys stays off the walkways, so you don't track it into the house.

Pets Licking Paws

Your pets tend to lick and chew their paws, and you can't really stop them. You don't want them ingesting fertilizer, so keep them off the lawn and wash dog paws when you return from walks. Better yet, use booties and rinse off the booties after each walk. The specific fertilizer brand should provide more instructions regarding pet safety, but if you can't find any information, err on the side of caution and go a little overboard in protecting your pets.

Trapped in the Soles of Shoes

Just as fertilizer pellets can stick to your shoes and leave a trail of residue when you walk inside, so too can your shoes leave a trail of, well, not destruction, but less-than-optimal feeding for the lawn. If those pellets stick to your shoes, that means the pellets aren't available to the lawn and won't seep into the soil. While a small amount of fertilizer won't do much harm, a lot of pellets missing could prevent your lawn from getting the full nutrition you were intending to give it.

The way to make lawn fertilizer application easier is to have landscapers do it. A lawn care or landscaping company can apply the fertilizer, allowing you and your pets to stay off the grass.