Starter Fertilizer

7 Things You Should Know About Applying Starter Fertilizer to Your Lawn

Starter fertilizer helps plant new grass from scratch or find the bare spots; however, finding the right fertilizer for your start can be a daunting experience. Thus, this article will check the critical aspects of using starter fertilizer and other things.

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This article will check the seven critical things about starter fertilizers. Some of these include – knowing about applying starter fertilizer to your lawn and finding the best starter fertilizer for good and sod. Going for a soil test before you check the phosphorus levels, the standard amount of starter fertilizer you should use and the conditions you should avoid using it, to name a few. Now, let us unveil the mystery around starter fertilizer as under: 

1. Understanding Starter Fertilizer 

A starter fertilizer for lawns is a small quantity of fertilizer nutrients which is applied close to the seed at planting. It helps the sod roots and grass seedlings establish the soil very rapidly compared to the regular fertilizer giving a thick lawn in a shorter duration. 

The starter fertilizer can differ slightly in composition; however, they all offer the grass seeds and new sod an excellent nutritional boost needed for good germination and fast root growth. These often contain good amounts of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. But some types contain two different parts of nitrogen and the other part of potassium and phosphorus. 

2. Good Starter Fertilizer for Grass Seed and Sod

Starter fertilizers are available in different compositions of the essential nutrients nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K). You can find the three numbers listed with the given NPK ratio. It shows the percentage of each nutrient present in the fertilizer. For instance, if you find as N-P-K ratio as 10-10-10, 

  • Nitrogen is needed in the fertilizer for decent growth and green coloration. 
  • Phosphorus plays a vital role in growth processes like good root development.
  • Potassium helps promote good disease resistance, drought resistance and winter hardiness in the grass. 

Starter Fertilizer

3. Can you Apply a Starter Fertilizer to Grass Seed and Sod?

Yes, you can apply a starter fertilizer to seed and sod. However, you need to know to do things right: 

  • Seed – it should be added during the seeding stage. The grassed require higher amounts of phosphorous and nitrogen than mature grass plants as we see seedlings are producing new issues quickly. Thus they have a higher level of energy and nutrition requirements. Overseeding any yard is a time-consuming task, but for sod, it will be more expensive. 
  • Sod – As we see, sod is usually composed of mature turf, many roots tend to gain the harvesting operation. Nitrogen and phosphorus, as added as a starter fertilizer to the soil (before the sod is laid), will only help develop the new roots. 

4. Should you Get a Soil Test First to See Phosphorus Levels?

As soil test levels of phosphorus fail to change in a shorter duration, you collect the soil samples and then submit them to the test lab for checking the phosphorus levels within the year of establishing turf. However, you can get low-cost testing services from the extension service offices. 

Starter Fertilizer

You can collect the soil samples unless the soil is not frozen. Ideally, you must collect the soil and then submit the samples for the lab test. It takes around 1 to 3 days or even two weeks to get the result depending upon the complexity of the test. You then need some extra days to buy fertilizer to make the required soil adjustments before you plant it in your yard. 

5. Is There any Standard Amount of Starter Fertilizer you Should Use?

If you are yet to get the soil test to find out the quantity of starter fertilizer you need to use for your lawn, then you need to check the following general recommendations: 

  • You should apply the starter fertilizer at 0.5 to 1 lb. nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. If you exceed the limit of upto 1.5 lb. nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, you are more likely to burn the young turf and give poor grass for your lawn.
  • A quick release of nitrogen will expedite seedling development. However, applying this fertilizer is not an alternative to the recommended phosphate and potash soil tests. 

6. The conditions where you should avoid using starter fertilizer

Always refrain from using starter fertilizers where you cannot control runoff. Using phosphorus and nitrogen-based fertilizers has raised significant environmental concerns in the country. Hence we see half of the states in the US have regulated the use of fertilizers.

Avoid using starter fertilizer if your test recommends not to use it. Instead, apply organic fertilizers, including manure-based compost or biosolids fertilizer and work with the soil to get a new turf. These changes make the lawn healthy and rich in phosphorus and nitrogen. 

Once the grass is established, make sure you fertilize in an interval of 6 to 8 weeks. The best time to do this is during the late spring for warm-season grasses like Zoysia or centipedegrass grass. Similarly, you can do the same for the cool-season grasses like bluegrass or Kentucky during the fall. 

7. The Right time to apply Starter Fertilizer

You should apply starter fertilizer just before you start laying the sod, seeding or once you sow the starter fertilizer for new grass seed. You do not want to apply it directly to the newly planted sod or when you see it burning. Once you apply, you need to wait for around 6-8 weeks before using it with yet another dose of any balanced fertilizer. 

To know the exact quantity of fertilizer you need to apply to your lawn, you first need a soil test. The three vital nutrients you need for good growth and health for your grass include nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which any good starter fertilizer will always have. Make sure you apply the fertilizer till it reaches 4 to 6 inches into the soil with a few additional changes you need to add. 

Hire a Professional

If you are among the homeowners who dislike going with DIY, then calling a professional is always a good idea. Eden has expertise in landscaping and lawn management, and you can always give a call to apply starter fertilizer. Hiring a professional group like Eden can help keep you relaxed while the pros take up this task to help you gain your dream lawn. 

From selecting the right seasonal plants to installing an outdoor kitchen, our landscaping services can do it all for you. Contact us today for a stunning landscape!