How to Apply Starter Fertilizer for Sod [Fertilize and Get the Prize]

Water is key in sustaining life-or sod. They say when you take care of things, they last. What better example to think of, than that of sod? Maintaining a high-quality sod can be easily realized, but only by constantly taking care of it.

Using the right fertilizer for sod is also key. Considering that the sod is frequently damaged by people stepping on it, or used for the enterprising of different activities with sport nature, it’s normal for the sod to need nutritious substances to stimulate its regeneration and growth.

Besides regular trimming, fueling the sod with specific fertilizers is very important in making the sod stronger and aesthetic.

Also, the nutritious substances are assimilated by plants, but most of them are lost due to the frequent trimming. The sod’s quality is likely to be higher by using fertilizers with similar content to that of the soil. Or, if they contain, at least, substances that would cover the deficiencies. But before maintaining it, you need to know how to apply starter fertilizer.

Step 1. A sip of water

New sod needs water as much as we do. As it needs constant attention, it’s important to schedule sessions of watering, and follow the plan. Yet, do not overflood or dry the Ocean. Just keep in mind that the first 4-5 weeks are key, and the first 4-7 days are crucial.

Step 2. Test the soil first

Sod needs many essential substances for healthy growth. However, it’s unlikely for the soil to be fertile enough to assure them all. Some believe that the darker the color of the soil, the higher its fruitfulness. In reality, the color of the soil is not a solid indicator of its actual state. That’s why it’s needed to have and follow a plan. It’s advisable to make a soil test, to find out which are the lacking nutrients, before using fertilizer.

Step 3. Check the result

The most important elements are Azote, Potassium, and Phosphorus, Azote being the one needed in the highest quantity. It assures the formation of enzymes and proteins, to stop the weeds from flourishing. Also, it helps in creating an intense green, just like Nitrogen. Potassium and Phosphorus need to be used in moderation.

They are recommended when the soil test shows big lacks. Despite that, each of them is useful, Phosphorus for roots growth, and Potassium for resistance. Also, it’s important to use magnesium and iron, as well.

Step 4. New Sod: Get the roots established first

It’s advisable to use a fertilizer with phosphorus.

For New Sod

“To apply the fertilizer, start by listing fertilizer rated as 6.5lbs/1000sq.ft . in 16-16-16 manner, or use 10lbs/10000 feet in 10-20-20 manner. You can use other types of fertilizer as well. Apply it to the bare ground and pour some water into the soil. After that install the turf sod which will help to establish the roots.

If you have used a 16-16-16 or equivalent fertilizer to the turf sod which was installed one month, then you will get a healthy lawn 2-6 weeks after that. Read the guidelines and follow them after you have used the starter fertilizer 2-3 times. The best way to apply the fertilizer is to apply it to the dry lawn and then water the lawn. That will reduce the chances of burning the lawn.”

For Established lawns

If fertilizer is to be used for an established lawn, then the fertilizer should be used for about 4-5 times in one year. The fertilizer used should supply about 1 lb of actual nitrogen to about 1000 feet. The time of using the fertilizer throughout the year vary upon various conditions such as weather.

For best results, follow the guidelines. One can even use fertilizers less than 4-5 times in a year, however, that too depends upon various factors such as type of soil, weather condition, etc. Always apply the fertilizer to the dry lawn and then water the lawn. This will minimize the risk of burning the lawn.        

Which are the Recommended Applications Dates for Established Sod?

The first use of fertilizer should be in March. One can apply fertilizer to the lawn in the early or mid-week of march. During that time, use spring fertilizer with moss control (12-2-8) if needed by the user. The second use should be in April or May. The lawn can be fertilized in the late week fo April or early May. Use quick-release fertilizer (16-16-16). The third application of the fertilizer should be in June.

Apply summer fertilizer such as 28-7-14 in the midweek of June or the end week of June. The fourth application of the fertilizer should be in September. Use summer fertilizer again such as 28-7-14. The last application should be in November. Use fall fertilizer with moss control in the midweek of November.

In case weeds develop in the lawn avoid using fertilizer and herbicide mixture. This will prevent the burning of roots. When the mixture of fertilizer and herbicides are used, after watering the lawn, herbicide seeps in the ground and attack the roots of the plants.

To get the best results use liquid herbicide spray like Ortho Weed-B-Gone. Let it dry for about 24 hours before watering the lawn. Also, never apply weed killers to any newly seeded lawn until the lawn is 3 months old.

Step 5. Get the right amount of fertilizer

There’s a saying: What’s in excess, spoils. And it applies very much to fertilizing. The packaging offers all the information needed, and all fertilizers have a chemical listing of N-P-K. Too much water, lack of water or fertilizer will have the same result: no result, in terms of fruitful turf.

Step 6: Irrigation

Maybe the most important thing, don’t let sod dry but make sure there’s water permanently. Not too much, though. Try to avoid the formation of puddles, as they’d lead to the decay of seeds and roots. It’s not good if the new sod goes through the alternation between drought and flood.

It won’t germinate as desired, so it’s best to have a plan. Also, take account of the climatic factors: more frequent irrigation at heat, and less if it rains. Also, the soil. Impermeable, clay soils don’t need frequent watering, whereas sandy soils do, since water passes faster through them.

When to Irrigate?

 Early in the morning

The irrigation early in the morning gives plants the required time for water absorption, by sending it to the roots before being vanished by the sun’s heat. During the day and especially in the afternoon, it’s advisable not to irrigate, because the water evaporates quickly and won’t get to the roots. Another important thing is the wind. Windy weather dries the water before it gets the chance to be absorbed.

Another important aspect: Do not irrigate the new sod with the hose, as you risk spreading away from the seeds. Rather point the hose upwards, so the water could fall as it rained.


An alternative for the irrigation early in the morning is later, in the evening. However, avoid nighttime, because during the night there’s higher humidity than needed. And that might lead to the deterioration and illness of the sod.

Step 7: Irrigate evenly

How to do it?

If the turf has some dry areas or looks uneven, it might be the case that the applied irrigation method doesn’t work properly. A healthy look of the turf requires your constant attention and the right amount of water.

You can try a little test:

Irrigate in multiple areas with a different bottle of water for each area. But all the bottles filled the same. Then, irrigate the way you’re used to, and at the end, compare the bottles. If you see that some bottles have more or less water than the others, it might be a sign the distribution of water is uneven.

How to Choose the Right Starter Fertilizer For Sod?

“Some common examples of fertilizer which could be used for the lawn are 10-10-10, 20-10-10, and 16-8-8. The analyses of 15-10-10 and 10-6-4 by Penn State Extension revealed that they can also be used as starter fertilizers for grass. These fertilizers can promote good growth and early grass development.”

 Is there any Standard of Fertilizer to use?

“If you are unable to test your soil for the right amount of fertilizer to be used, then Landschoot writes that starter fertilizers should apply around 05.lbs to 1 lb of nitrogen to 1000sq ft. One should not go beyond 1.5lbs per 1000 feet as it can burn the young turf and can result in a poor establishment. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Application of starter fertilizer is not a substitute for the potash and phosphate that is recommended in your soil test report.”

 Any Circumstances where Fertilizer should not be used?

 This will help to provide all the nitrogen that is needed along with the proper dosage of phosphorus for optimum establishment. This should only be done If one has biol solid compost or manure-based compost which has the right amount of nitrogen that is needed.”

 One important advice is that you shouldn’t use fertilizers in the area where the runoff could not be controlled. Using nitrogen and phosphorus in large quantities has caused great environmental concern all over the world. This has caused many states in the U.S to impose fertilizer regulations.


As we can see, there are ways to ensure healthy growth for turf, but it’s mandatory to be constant, and mindful of these environmental details that make all the we can use fertilizer for sod.

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