How to Remove Fertilizer Rust Stains From Your Driveway or Sidewalk


Just when you start to think you might have things sort of under control, you notice ugly orange stains on your sidewalk and driveway.

(Insert heavy sigh here.)

So you swear a little bit, grab a bucket of water and a stiff brush and start scrubbing.

Hmmmm. These stains aren’t budging.

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.

Does Fertilizer Stain Concrete?

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

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Will Fertilizer Stains Go Away?

Fertilizer 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

How to Remove Fertilizer Stains from Concrete

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.

Removing Fertilizer Stains, Part 2

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.

Preventing Fertilizer Stains on Concrete

Now that you know what causes fertilizer stains on the sidewalk or driveway, 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 Lawn Buddies, we don't let fertilizer 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.
Fertilizer Spreader
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.

Is Your Lawn Ready for a New Best Friend?

Expert, careful fertilizing is just one of the lawn care services we provide at Lawn Buddies.

We know you don’t have time to dilute acid and scrub your sidewalk, driveway, or patio. Who the heck does?

We’re all about making your lawn care easy.
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Choose an Idaho Falls or Boise professional lawn care service that bundles your yard’s most-needed treatments into one convenient, no-fuss plan.

Fertilizing, weed control, grub control. Done. (And done right, with no staining fertilizer left behind.)

We’ve got your back.

Got a few minutes? That’s all you need to get started.

Then kick back and relax in your healthy, thriving yard.

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Image Source: Fertilizer Spreader

Is your lawn ready for a new best friend?

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