When to Fertilize New Sod + Its Benefits to Grass

Starter fertilizer can help new sod to establish quickly and you can have a thick green lawn within a short period of time. To get the best results, you must know when to fertilize new sod and what kind of fertilizer to use. This guide expounds on the best time to fertilize a new sod, its benefits and the kind of product to use.

Apply starter fertilizer before laying the sod based on your soil test recommendations. Fertilizing after laying new sod should be after 4 to 6 weeks with a well-balanced slow release granular fertilizer formulated for new lawns.

When to Fertilize New Sod

Fertilizing a new sod gives your turf a boost for vigorous growth. However this has to be done using the right starter fertilizer for lawn grass. Starter lawn fertilizers come different N-P-K compositions (nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K).

  • Nitrogen: Needed for enhancing growth and green coloration of plants.
  • Phosphorous: Promotes various growth processes in the plant including good root development.
  • Potassium: Promotes good resistance to diseases and enhanced tolerance of drought and winter conditions.

Even though sod is mostly composed of mature turf, most of the roots gets severed during the harvesting. Fertilizing the soil before sod is laid will greatly help in hastening development of new roots. This need to be done together with any other amendments based on your soil testing recommendations.

Starter fertilizer should not be applied directly to the newly installed sod as it can cause burning of the grass. Additionally, fertilizer applied only to the surface of the will take longer for nutrients to move down and this will delay its usefulness to the grass. This is why it’s best to till into the soil 4 to 6 inches.

Application of starter fertilizer after laying the sod should be after 4 to 6 weeks once the grass has establishes. This is probably few days after mowing new sod for the first time and the grass will be in good state to utilize the available nutrients in the fertilizer.

If you fertilize your new sod too early, the nutrients will not be absorbed by the developing grass roots. This means a lot of the fertilizer will be washed into nearby water bodies which is harmful to the aquatic lives. The nutrients could also leach from the soil leading to a deficiency when it will be needed by the grass.

How to Fertilize New Sod

A starter fertilizer will definitely promote healthy growth and establishment of your lawn. However, applying too much can harmful to your turf. Although every fertilizer has clear application instructions, here is how to apply your starter fertilizer the right way.

  1. Measure the square footage of your lawn area in order to determine how much fertilizer you need to purchase
  2. Take a sample of your soil for testing to a nearby soil testing laboratory or a University Cooperative Extension.
  3. Once you have received your soil test results, choose an appropriate starter fertilizer recommended for your soil in the right amount.
  4. Next, pour the fertilizer into a standard fertilizer spreader and apply it evenly over the planting area.
  5. Once applied, use a garden rake to work the fertilizer 4 to 6 inches into the soil.
  6. If you are reapplying the fertilizer on a new sod, spread the product over the turf and water it into the soil.

NOTE: Remember to keep dogs, children and other pets off the grass after fertilizing as it can be harmful to their health. Foot traffic is also harmful to a new sod and this will also help your turf to establish without being stressed.

When not to fertilize new sod

There are some circumstances where you shouldn’t use a starter fertilizer. The first one is when the soil test has confirmed presence of adequate amount of nitrogen and phosphorous in the soil. A 1 or 2 inch of good quality compost amended into soil before laying sod can provide enough nutrients for lawn establishment.

The United Stated Environmental Protection Agency also discourage use of starter fertilizer in areas where you cannot control runoff. Fertilizers contain strong chemicals that can harm other lives when they are carried by surface runoff into nearby water sources.

Can I use Regular Fertilizer on New Sod?

Would you give a newborn baby a piece of burger? Of course you won’t do that. Probably not because the burger is bad but doesn’t contain vital nutrients for the growth and development of the baby. This is equivalent to thinking of feeding your new lawn with regular fertilizer.

While both regular and starter fertilizer can provide important nutrients to the growth and establishment of plants, they cannot be interchangeable. One cannot be used in place of the other due to their difference in nutritional compositions.

Applying regular fertilizer on a new lawn can be catastrophic. It can burn your new delicate grass or remain unused and later on end in surface waters. This can mean money gone down the drain and also a pollution to the environment.

Final Thought

Fertilizer boost the growth and establishment of a new lawn. It is important to take your soil for testing and fertilize the soil before laying the sod. Your next fertilizing should be done after 4 to 6 weeks once the grass has established. Use appropriate starter fertilizer and not a regular fertilizer on your new lawn.

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