Is Starter Fertilizer Good For Established Lawns?

Is Starter Fertilizer Good For Established Lawns

Only about 28% of lawn owners in America have healthy and lush lawns. Of course, this can be attributed to several reasons. One important aspect that cannot be overlooked is knowing how to rightly fertilize your turf grass through its different seasons of growth.

Starter fertilizer has proven to be very resourceful for every type of lawn. And if by chance, yours is a fully established lawn, you can still apply starter fertilizer. In this article, I’ll be answering different questions concerning starter fertilizer.

But more than that, I’ll be showing you how this fertilizer and other types of fertilizers can improve the overall health of your lawn.

Why Lawns Need Fertilizers

Plants need certain essential nutrients in order to grow. Normally, these nutrients are usually found in the soil or contained in the atmosphere. But sometimes these nutrients can be lacking or available in quantities that are not sufficient to support the growth of your turf.

In such cases, fertilizers are usually applied. These fertilizers provide a supplementary source of plant nutrients and help to correct the deficiency.

The Best Starter Fertilizers For Grass Seed Reviewed

Components Of fertilizers

If you’ve ever bought fertilizers for your garden or lawn, you must have come across the word N-P-K. N being Nitrogen, P, phosphorus, and K representing potassium.

Plants need several nutrients to grow and remain healthy. Some are needed in negligible or trace quantities, others, on the other hand, are considered primary and highly important.

NPK are the three most essential nutrients that are needed as well as most used up by plants. Every fertilizer contains these, though in varying degrees and quantity.

#1. Nitrogen:

N stands for nitrogen. Nitrogen is a necessity if healthy, green, and beautiful lawns are your thing. Nitrogen is to plants what oxygen is to humans. It is also the element that is used up the most.

Already established lawns need more nitrogen than they do other nutrients. The presence of nitrogen in the soil promotes the growth of long green blades and strong, healthy roots.

Without enough nitrogen, your grass turf will grow slowly. Also, you might experience patches and yellow discoloration in extreme cases.

On the other hand, when there’s too much nitrogen in the soil, excessive thatch might build-up, leading to a thatch problem eventually.

See this post for more on what Nitrogen does for grass.

#2. Phosphorus

Phosphorus is another equally important element. Depending on the growth stage of your turf, your lawn might even need more phosphorus for its growth.

Phosphorus helps in the formation and development of healthy roots. Meaning it is one element that is most needed by new seedlings. Starter fertilizers normally contain a higher percentage of phosphorus for this reason.

See this post for more on what phosphorus does for grass.

#3. Potassium

Potassium is another essential plant element found in fertilizers. It helps to ward off most diseases found in plants. It also helps to boost plant stamina as potassium helps in increasing the ability of your turfgrass to withstand harsh and extreme temperatures.

It’s very common for your soil to contain some quantity of potash, and so, fertilizers usually contain a smaller ratio of potassium.

See this post for more on what potassium does for grass.

What Are Starter Fertilizers?

Starter fertilizers like all types of fertilizers are need specific. Meaning, they are supposed to provide your plant with the nutritional boost they need.

Starter fertilizers are used for new and growing seedlings. Their high phosphorus composition helps sod roots and grass seedlings develop rapidly.

How Starter Fertilizer Affects Plant Growth

Most plant nutrients are found in the soil. Growing seedlings, however, have not developed deep and dense roots enough to reach where these nutrients are.

The application of starter fertilizers helps to supply nutrients to plants in quantity and in a position where they can easily access it. This eventually leads to the development of its roots.

Once your turf root develops, it becomes easier for them to readily access other necessary organic elements present in the soil. An extensive and developed root system is the result of applying fertilizers.

Can I Use A Starter Fertilizer For Grass That Is Established?

Sure, you can. But your lawn wouldn’t be getting optimum nutrition. Feeding your lawn with the right quantity of everything it needs is vital if a healthy lawn is what you’re after. Maintenance fertilizers provide a more balanced nutritional base for lawns that are already established.

It’s best to use maintenance fertilizers when dealing with established soils. Like every living thing, there are different nutritional requirements at every stage of growth. Starter fertilizers, due to its primary components, work best for newly emerging turf grasses.

The difference between starter fertilizers and regular or maintenance fertilizers lies in their composition. Both types provide your turf grass with food and energy, but new seedlings usually require more phosphorus as well as quick release nitrogen

Phosphorus helps in the development of a strong and extensive root system, while quick-release nitrogen causes rapid germination in seedlings when it is applied.

Lawns that are already established need more nitrogen than any other element. Applying starter fertilizers will provide less nitrogen and less potassium, which may be detrimental to the overall health of your lawn.

Also, since stater fertilizers contain a higher percentage of phosphorus, your lawn might be getting more phosphorus than it needs.

Excess phosphorus in the soil can cause poor and stunted growth; in extreme cases, your plants might die. More so, unlike nitrogen, it’s not usually easy for excess phosphorus to be flushed out.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Lawn

Remember, as much as fertilizing is important, every other lawn maintenance practice is equally important in ensuring that your lawn remains healthy and lush. These are timeless tips for maintaining a good lawn.

#1. Water

Don’t neglect this. Watering and fertilizing go hand in hand. Granular fertilizers need to be watered down for them to be activated. Water-soluble fertilizers also need to be diluted in water for them to be applied.

Always water your lawn after applying granular fertilizers, this will help to drive down the fertilizer as well as prevent your grass blades from getting burnt.

It’s also important not to overwater as it might cause the fertilizers to leech and runoff.  It can also lead to a soggy lawn. Soggy lawns give rise to insect pests and diseases such as root rot.

As always, remember the number one irrigation rule, “Water deeply and less frequently”.

#2. Mowing

Every gardener should watch out for this. Mowing could either make or break your lawn. Make sure you don’t mow too low and make sure you mow regularly. Mowing rightly could give you the lawn break you’ve been looking for.

#3. Aerate

It’s usually hard for fertilizers to penetrate compacted soils. This most times leads to the soil absorbing only very little nutrients while the rest leeches off.

One way to solve this is by aerating your lawn. Aeration involves airing out your lawn. It improves the circulation and flow of oxygen, fertilizers, and moisture.

#4. Other Tips

Other lawn maintenance practices include adding lime to the soil if it becomes too acidic, dethatching the lawn when there is an excessive thatch build-up, regularly weeding out your lawn, doing a soil test every now and then.

If all of these are carried out, you can almost be sure that you’ll have no worries whatsoever.


Does using a starter fertilizer hurt your well-established lawn? The answer is yes, and no. It’s “no” because it doesn’t immediately cause it to start wilting or fading away. And it’s “yes” because, in the long run, it will mean your lawn isn’t getting enough nutrition.

It’s best to go for regular or maintenance fertilizers because they contain in the right proportion all that your lawn needs to remain healthy and growing.