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Should You Put Starter Fertilizer on New Sod?

Keith Hardy - Bio Photo
Keith Hardy
Senior Editor

Keith has been involved in the gardening and landscaping industry for the past 21 years. From a jobbing gardener to running his own landscaping services....

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One of the most important aspects of establishing a healthy lawn is proper fertilization. Fertilizing new grass is especially important, as it helps the grass get off to a strong start and establishes good growth habits.

A starter fertilizer is specifically designed for new sod, as it contains higher levels of nitrogen and phosphorous than other types of fertilizer. This helps the new grass get established and thrive.

When you are laying new sod, it is especially important to use a starter fertilizer, which will help the grass to establish and thrive. The two nutrients that are most important for new grass are nitrogen and phosphorous. A high-nitrogen fertilizer will help the grass to grow quickly, while a high-phosphorous fertilizer will help to promote root growth.

What is Starter Fertilizer?

Should You Put Starter Fertilizer on New Sod?

When you’re ready to start growing a new lawn, you need to choose the right fertilizer. Using starter fertilizer is the best way to give your grass a strong, healthy start.

Regular fertilizers provide essential nutrients that all plants need for growth. However, they don’t always provide the quick-release nitrogen that newly seeded or sodded lawns need for rapid blade development during those crucial first few weeks after installation.

Lawn starter fertilizers are specially formulated with higher levels of quick-release nitrogen and other essential nutrients to promote healthy growth in new grass seedlings and sod roots.

When can I fertilize my new sod?

There are two schools of thought as to the right time to fertilize when laying sod. The first, and generally considered better practice, is to put down a starter fertilizer prior to laying the sod, while the other option is to add it after.

Prior to Laying the Sod

The most common approach is to put down a starter fertilizer when you prepare the ground, i.e., before you lay the sod. This will provide the new sod with essential nutrients that will give your young grass a head start. When applying, it is always advisable to follow the manufacturer’s directions.

After Laying the Sod

The alternative method is after you have laid the sod. Generally, this will take place between two to four weeks after you have put t down the sod after. The main reason for the delay is that it is always advisable to allow the sod because walking on newly laid sod can damage the delicate grass blades and prevent the sod from taking root. As a general rule, you should wait at least two weeks before walking on your new sod. During this time, the sod will continue to settle, and the roots will continue to grow.

Soil Sample Tested

Get a soil sample to test for nutrient levels before you add any fertilizer. This is important as having too many of nutrients can be just as harmful as too little. And be sure you have an adequate water supply to avoid stressing your lawn during dry periods.

Why is new sod fertilizer different from regular sod fertilizer?

When you are installing new sod, it is important to use the right type of fertilizer. New sod fertilizer is different from regular fertilizer because it has a higher concentration of essential nutrients, including nitrogen. This helps grass seedlings to develop strong roots and grow quickly after installation.

Regular fertilizer is not as concentrated and does not have the same quick-release nitrogen that lawn starter fertilizer does. This means that it takes longer for the grass to develop deep roots and establish a healthy lawn. Generally, this means it is not the best choice when looking to establish your new sod unless your soil is already rich in nitrogen and phosphorus.

Is it Best to Get a Soil Test First to See Phosphorus Levels?

Because each installation is different it is always best to get a soil test before laying sod in order to see what the phosphorus levels and other nutrient levels are. Getting a soil test will give you important information about the essential nutrients that may be lacking to ensure your lawn needs to grow healthy and strong.

Why Phosphorus Is Important for New Lawns

Phosphorus is one of the three essential nutrients that all plants need for healthy growth (the other two are nitrogen and potassium). Because it encourages the development of robust root systems, the presence of phosphorus in the soil makes it possible for grass to develop a lush, thick appearance. Plants are able to make better use of their resources when there good levels of phosphorus present in the soil.

This essential nutrient is a crucial part of the structural components that make up the grass’s DNA. The fundamental components of a plant, such as its genes and chromosomes, are transmitted from one genisis of the plant to the next, serving in effect as a “blueprint” for the plant’s expansion and maturation.

In addition, phosphorous is responsible for increasing the efficiency of sugar and starch transport within plants. It stores them as energy and makes this available to be used as a source of energy for other reactions occurring within the plant.

Choosing The Right Fertilizer for New Sod

Choosing The Right Fertilizer for New Sod

When you’re ready to lay new sod, it’s important to choose the right fertilizer. The type of fertilizer you use will depend on several factors, including the type and varietyof grass you’re laying and the health of your lawn.

New sod will generally need a fertilizer high in phosphorous and allow quick nitrogen release. Starter fertilizers are formulated in this way and contain essential nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. This will help your grass seedlings develop strong roots and blades quickly. Apply the starter fertilizer to the area you sod will be installed a few days prior to installation, then follow up with regular fertilizers throughout the growing season.

What is the Importance of The Ratio Between Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (NPK) 

When you’re ready to start your lawn from seed, or new sod unless your soil is rich in phosphorous, regular fertilizer won’t cut it. You need a lawn starter fertilizer with the right ratio of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (NPK) to give your grass seeds a fighting chance. The importance of the NPK ratio in starter fertilizer is that each element plays a specific role in developing healthy turfgrass.

Nitrogen is responsible for blade development and color, phosphorus, as we have seen, helps develop strong roots, and potassium aids in overall plant health, and helps with drought tolerance and disease resistance. 

How Do You Read a Fertilizer Label? 

How Do You Read a Fertilizer Label? 

The key is to know if the right level of nutrients is included for specific soil circumstances. The results of your soil test will provide you with details of your current soil nutrient levels. Using this information you can apply the correct fertilizer to your new sod. 

All the information should be on the fertilizer label. There are three main things you want to consider to make sure the right amount of nutrients are included: the type of fertilizer, the rate at which it is applied, and how often it should be applied.

When you look at a fertilizer bag you will notice that there are three numbers displayed prominently on the bag. These numbers relate to the fertilizers NPK and are typically printed in the format 10-10-10 on the majority of commercial fertilizer packages. These numbers provide information regarding the nutrient content of the fertilizer, specifically the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus (potash), and potassium that are present in it.

The first number displays the percentage of nitrogen that is contained in the fertilizer. The amount of nitrogen that is present in fertilizer rises as the percentage does. The concentrations of phosphorus and potassium are also described using percentages as their units of measurement.

If the numbers read 10-10-10, then a ten-pound bag of fertilizer has a total of one pound of nitrogen in it; however, if the numbers read 21-22-4, then a ten-pound bag has a total of 2.1 pounds of nitrogen in it.

Because commercial fertilizers contain a diverse range of nutrient mixtures, each of which is designed for a particular application, it is important to always check the product label to ensure that you are purchasing the appropriate fertilizer for the job at hand.

The type of fertilizer will be either a starter fertilizer, regular fertilizer, or quick-release nitrogen fertilizer.

  • A starter fertilizer is high in phosphorus, which helps grass seeds develop healthy roots. A quality lawn starter fertilizer will have an NPK ratio somewhere between 5-10-5 or 10-20-10.
  • A regular fertilizer contains a combination of essential nutrients for blade development and color.
  • Quick-release nitrogen provides an immediate boost of greening power but needs to be reapplied more frequently than other types.

What is the Best Fertilizing and Watering Schedule for New Sod

When you install new sod, it is important to give it the best chance to grow by fertilizing and watering it properly. A starter fertilizer with essential nutrients should be applied when the sod is installed, and then regular fertilizer should be applied every 4-6 weeks after that. A quick-release nitrogen fertilizer can be applied 2-3 times during the first growing season to help promote blade development.

It is also important to make sure your new sod has a good water supply. Watering deeply and regularly (1-2 inches per week) during the first few weeks after installation will help encourage deep roots and healthy growth.

Lawn Care Program After Installing New Sod

Lawn Care Program After Installing New Sod

Whether you putting down new sod, feeding or overseeding you need to have an appropriate lawn care plan to follow to ensure the best possible results.

Before Laying the Sod

Prior to laying the sod, you should prepare the ground the sod will be laid. The ground should be well aerated and allow water to easily drain through. 

You should thoroughly water the ground ad add a good quality starter fertilizer to it just before you put down the sod. 

First Week

During the first week after installing the sod, you should water regularly to the point where the ground is always moist. The amount and frequency will obviously vary depending on the climate, however, you have to be careful not to overwater and leave standing water on any part of the lawn.

Watering should take place in the mornings and the evenings, avoiding the hottest parts of the day. This will prevent the soil from drying out too quickly and causing the sod to crack.

Second Week

After the first week, you should continue to water regularly until the ground is consistently damp throughout the day. Toward the end of the week, you should be able to notice new growth with the blades beginning to lengthen and new white root growth appearing.

Third Week

By the third week, the sod should be firmly in place and you shouldn’t be able to lift the edges very easily. During this week you should be able to mow the lawn, being careful only to cut the tops of the grass blades. Ensure your mower blades are sharp so they don’t tear and pull at thenew grass.

Two-Three Months

This is the point that you will look to apply the second round of fertilizer. In this case, a slow-release fertilizer to help replenish soil nutrients and continue to help the new grass to establish itself. 

Summary: Should You Put Starter Fertilizer on New Sod?

When you install a new lawn, it is important to fertilize it in order to help it grow and thrive. A starter fertilizer is ideal for new sod, as it contains high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous. These nutrients are essential for the growth of new grass. Fertilizing your lawn regularly will help keep it healthy and looking its best.

Keith Hardy - Bio Photo
Keith HardySenior Editor

Keith has been involved in the gardening and landscaping industry for the past 21 years. From a jobbing gardener to running his own landscaping services. He is now dedicated to bringing you the latest in gardening news. Read more

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