What Causes Rust Stains On Sidewalk After Fertilizing?

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If you use granular fertilizer on your lawn, you've likely seen  unsightly orange stains marring your sidewalks, driveway or patio. Maybe you grabbed a bucket of water and a stiff brush and started scrubbing.

And scrubbing. And scrubbing. But the stains didn't budge.

What are they? And how the heck do you get rid of them?

Stick with us. We’ll even tell you how to avoid them in the first place.

Get a Custom Lawn Care Quote!What Are Those Ugly Orange Stains?

Now that you think about it, those ugly orange stains showed up shortly after you fertilized your lawn.

Does fertilizer stain concrete? You bet it does.

Those rust stains are caused by the iron in your lawn fertilizer. Plant food and fertilizers all contain metals and minerals such as magnesium, iron, copper and zinc.

When fertilizer granules stray from the lawn onto concrete surfaces, then get hit by water from your sprinkler, iron seeps out and stains your concrete.

The minerals penetrate the concrete and create a permanent color change.

Don’t Bother With Water And A Scrub Brush

Fertilizer rust stains on concrete are really tough to remove. The reacted minerals aren’t water soluble, which means water and scrubbing won’t remove them.

They’re only soluble in a mild acid solution.

What To Do?

Start with a clear white vinegar, diluted 50:50 with water, and see if that removes the stains. Hang in there — you’ll need to apply the vinegar solution on the stain multiple times, scrub lightly, and then rinse. Test it on a small area first to see if it works.

If That Doesn't Work…

If the vinegar doesn’t work, you may need to try a stronger acid, such as muriatic. Dilute this stronger acid 40:1 with water.

Safety warning: muriatic acid emits strong fumes that can burn the lungs if inhaled. It can also burn your skin. Be sure to put on safety equipment — a mask, gloves, and thick clothing.

Also, be aware that this acid may etch the concrete in the areas you clean.

Sweep, Sweep, Sweep

Now that you know
what causes rust stains on the sidewalk, how do you prevent them?

If you fertilize your own lawn with granular fertilizer, apply it carefully, on grassy areas only. Once you're done, grab a broom and carefully sweep any granules that strayed onto concrete back onto the grass.

Or, Let Us Do The Sweeping

At Outback Landscape, we don't let rust stains happen in the first place. Our crews sweep stray fertilizer granules off your sidewalks, driveways, patios and any other concrete surface, before they can stain your concrete.

It’s just one of the steps we take before leaving your property, to make sure we’re leaving things better than we found them.

We pay attention to detail, and treat your property with the same care we give our own.



Trust Outback Landscape With Your Lawn Fertilizing

Expert, careful fertilizing is just one of the many lawn care services we provide at Outback Landscape. We specialize in full-service lawn care, from spring cleanup, summer mowing and irrigation service to fertilization and aeration — we do it all.

Our Complete Lawn Care packages come with the ability to select add ons, allowing us to cater to your property's unique needs, giving you the chance to enjoy your lawn — not toil over it.

Is your lawn ready for a new best friend?

In 2019, Outback Landscape Inc. acquired Idaho Falls based lawn care company, Lawn Buddies

Hundred of homeowners in Eastern Idaho have been counting on Lawn Buddies to provide reliable lawn care services since 2001. Think of it as a new friendly face with the same level of service you've come to expect from Outback Landscape.

Getting started is easy:

Get a Custom Lawn Care Quote!

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