Do You Put Starter Fertilizer on New Sod?

By Brian Mounts | Sep 21, 2021
Do You Put Starter Fertilizer on New Sod

Maintaining a healthy lawn can be a hectic job. You get to answer a lot of questions on “when what and how.” It’s even more taxing when you’re dealing with new sods or turfs. Just like regular babies, they require extra time, attention, and care.

Quite alright, you’ve aerated and seeded your lawn, but one area where you must give extra attention is the application of fertilizers. Proper fertilization of your new sod can make all the difference between a sun patched looking lawn and a thriving, beautiful, verdant lawn.

In this post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know in grooming your new sods into a mature and blossoming lawn.

What Are starter fertilizers

Starter fertilizers are a little bit of fertilizer placed near the seed to supply it with necessary nutrients until the root system of the seedling develops. They are usually applied to new and growing seedlings.

When used, they help to enhance the growth of the plant roots in places where the conditions might hinder such growth. These conditions could be cold or wet soil temperatures, low pH of the soil, and so on.

The essential nutrients that a starter fertilizer is required to have are nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. The percentage of phosphorus present should normally be at least 20% higher than the other elements.

See the following post for my thoughts on the best starter fertilizers you can buy these days.

Difference between Regular Fertilizers and Starter Fertilizer

The major difference between both is their composition. Although they both provide the new sods with essential nutrients, they cannot be used interchangeably.

The ratio for regular fertilizers is usually around 1:2:1. This is just awesome for established lawns but detrimental fir new sods. New grass sod requires more phosphorus than any other element. That is why starter fertilizers contain a higher measure of phosphorus.

Regular or maintenance fertilizers usually contain a higher quantity of nitrogen because already established lawns need more nitrogen for their growth.

Regular fertilizers are prepared with the feeding or nutritional requirements of established lawns in mind. In contrast, starter fertilizers are prepared with the nutritional needs of new and growing seedlings in mind.

When is the Best Time to Fertilize New Sods

Knowing when to fertilize new sods is quite important. There is, however, no fixed time for fertilizing new sods as consideration must be given to the season in which the sods were planted and the type of grass used.

Generally, though, it is usually recommended that you fertilize new sods at least four to six weeks after they have been laid down.

It is important that you don’t apply fertilizers immediately to the new sods after laying them down. This is because the root system of the new sods is not long enough at the beginning stage to reach the soil and absorb the nutrients captured by the soil as a result of fertilization.

It is also advisable that after the first application of fertilizers to new sods, at least another six to eight weeks space should be given before fertilizers are added the second time.

Should You Fertilize New Sods during Spring

Yes, you should. Spring is usually the best season to lay new sod.  It also doubles as the best season to apply fertilizers on your new sods. This is because sods flourish the most during the rainy season and in cold temperatures.

Can you Over Fertilize Your New Sods?

As I have previously stated, you need to space fertilizing your new sods again after the first time.  At least six weeks should go past before applying fertilizers the second time.

Applying fertilizer on the new sods sooner than this would mean over-fertilization of the new sods.

Overfertilization of new sods is also possible when the sods are fertilized too soon, i.e., sooner than four weeks after they were laid down. This is because sods are usually generally fertilized just before they are harvested at the sod farm.

It can also happen when the available nutrients in the soil are unknown. In this case, a fertilizer containing more of the nutrients that the soil already has maybe wrongly used to overfertilize the sods.

To avoid overfertilization, its best you conduct a soil test before laying down your new sods. This is to ascertain the nutrients already contained in the soil and to determine which nutrients are needed. This would help in figuring out the exact kind of fertilizer to apply.

How to Know If Your New Sods Have Been Overfertilized

There are a few pointers to know when your new sods have been over-fertilized. For one, if you notice that the fertilizer is crusting at the surface of the soil, it’s a sure sign that you have over-fertilized the sods.

Some of the symptoms of over-fertilization also include yellow or brown tips of the grass blade, scorched leaves, limp, or black grassroots.

Also, if you notice that the new sods seem to have stopped growing or the growth process seems to be slower than usual after fertilization, then it could be a pointer that you have over-fertilized the new sods.

How to Remedy an Overfertilized Sod

It’s never advisable to, but just in case you over-fertilize your lawn, several remedies can be done to restore the sods to their original state.

#1. Water the Lawn

The first step you should take if you suspect that your sods have been over-fertilized is to check the roots of the grass. Is the root still healthy despite the scorched surface? Or are they also damaged?

Whatever the case may be, the next action to take is watering your lawn. The new sods should be watered down thoroughly every day for at least seven days to wash out the excess fertilizers and then left for three to four days to dry out before moving on. The lawn should be at least one inch deep in water for those seven days.

After watering the lawn, there should be a notable change. New grass should have begun replacing the scorched ones.

#2. Consider Replacing the Affected Areas

If you see that the damage is beyond repair even after watering the sods, then you might want to consider replacing the affected areas.

Those damaged areas should be raked and tilled to pull up the damaged grass and give the new grassroots access to the soil.

After doing this, you can go on to re-sod or re-seed the affected parts. Whichever choice you make, watering the sods regularly remains an essential aspect of ensuring the growth of the sods.

How Often Should You Water Your New Sods

On laying down your new sods, it’s important that you water them as much as is possible to enable proper and healthy growth. Ideally, you ought to water them for twenty minutes, twice every day for the first sixty days.

It is advisable that the watering is done in the morning and in the evening. Watering your new sods in the afternoon isn’t really a wise choice as the sun would usually be high in the sky at that time of the day and would, therefore, cause quick evaporation.

Despite the fact that new sods require quite a bit of water at the early stage of their development, it is possible to overdo it. You can overwater the new sods.

Overwatering the new sods can hinder root growth and can lead to grassroots damage, which can cause the grass to eventually rot?


It’s always best to apply starter fertilizers before or while seeding. Fertilizing before you seed will give your turf a growth boost. It’s never a good option to fertilize your new sods immediately you lay them as they might get burnt in the process.