Congratulations on your new lawn! Now that you’ve finished with the sod installation, you may be wondering when to fertilize new sod and what is the best fertilizer for new sod.
In general, new sod care also usually consists of when and how much to water a new lawn, when you can begin mowing it, and when to fertilize the new sod to help it establish and grow. You can read more about overall care after installation in How to Care for New Sod.
For now, let’s look at a schedule that dictates when to fertilize new grass.
When to Fertilize New Sod
Many lawn care experts argue that it’s best to wait 30 days or so after installation to even think of applying fertilizer to new sod. We disagree.
Newly laid sod is stressed out after being harvested, transported and installed in its new environment. Why not give it nutrients that will help it successfully establish?
With that being said, what are the best nutrients for new sod and how can you get them?
Continue reading for a full fertilizer application schedule below.
The Best Fertilizer for New Sod
The important thing here is that you DON’T want to use a fertilizer that’s heavy with nitrogen. The goal here is to help the new sod roots grow into the new soil as much as possible.
When new sod is given nutrients like phosphorus and potassium, the roots don’t have to struggle as much with attaching to the new soil and successfully establishing.
It’s not a bad time to apply nitrogen, but the more even the ratio of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus (the three numbers indicated on the fertilizer package), the better. So, the N-P-K ratio you’ll be looking should be even like a 15-15-15 or an 8-8-8.
This is why we recommend Lawnifi’s® New Lawn Starter Box, which typically cost about $50. You can sometimes get it for less during a special or promo if you subscribe to the educational newsletter, Sod University. It contains three bottles of liquid fertilizer with two bottles that have an 8-8-8 ratio and one bottle with a 16-0-4. Each bottle covers around 5,000 sq. ft. and it easily hooks up to the end of your garden hose for easy application.
What’s even cooler is that all Lawnifi fertilizer products are powered by Catalyst TechnologyTM, which nano-sizes the nutrients so that the grass blades and roots don’t have to spend a lot of time breaking the nutrients down in the soil in order to absorb them.
You won’t be applying all three bottles at once—there’s a schedule to follow. In fact, this fertilizer will have your new sod’s nutrient needs set for the next four weeks. Check out the schedule below:
This step takes place on the day of installation. As mentioned in our step-by-step sod installation guide, it’s essential that new sod is watered thoroughly. Soak upon installation as water is needed to keep your grass from drying out. The soil should be moist 3–4 inches deep.
Use half of the first bottle of liquid fertilizer in the Lawnifi New Lawn Starter Box, Grow, on your already installed sod. You will use the rest during days 2–5.
Water thoroughly morning and late afternoon. During one of the waterings between day 2 and day 5, apply the remainder of the 1st application of Lawnifi Grow from your New Lawn Starter Box.
Make sure you are watering enough to get down into the roots and soil. Most individual sod pieces will dry out along exposed edges or edges that are not tightly placed together. Learn more in When to Water Newly Installed Sod.
Apply the second bottle of Lawnifi Grow at a full rate. A second application of Grow will accelerate root growth so that the newly installed lawn tacks down properly. The Grow formula provides essential nutrients to the plants in a form that is readily available for healthy lawn establishment.
Be sure to look for signs of lawn disease such as irregular circular patterns of disease or fungus, which can result from overwatering. It will look like rotted pieces. If this is present, apply a systemic fungicide like Heritage G.
Apply the last bottle in your Lawnifi New Lawn Starter Box, Maintain. Maintain was formulated to enhance overall turfgrass growth and hardiness. It will also enhance the color of your new lawn by providing iron and nitrogen.
Finally, Maintain contributes to healthy soil composition by delivering amino acids and microbes. This bottle of Maintain will provide your lawn with all the nutrition it will need for the next 30 days.
Why is new sod fertilizer different from regular sod fertilizer?
All plants including grass, trees, ornamentals or even crops need nutrients for growth and overall health. Although new sod and established sod are both grass, their needs differ. As previously mentioned, fertilizers that include more phosphorus content are your best option.
In a newly establishing lawn, phosphorus serves to help with root growth so that your sod connects with the soil underneath it and deepens, causing the sod to stick to the ground. Potassium affects drought tolerance, cold hardiness and disease resistance.
An appropriate amount of carbon will help with the overall health of your soil, which creates a successful environment for your grass to grow in. The entire family of Lawnifi liquid products are actually carbon-based fertilizers that serve to enhance your soil of which the grass grows in.
Read more about the importance carbon plays in your lawn in Why is Carbon Important to Your Lawn?.
Nitrogen and iron are responsible for keeping your grass green, which can be useful—but your newly installed lawn needs more than just nitrogen and iron right now. It needs to get established to its new environment.
Nitrogen and iron are still included as nutrients in the New Lawn Starter Box, but they are located in the last bottle of the box, Maintain.
How do I read a fertilizer label to know if the right amount of nutrients are included?
Typically, you will want a fertilizer that is heavy in phosphorus content. You can tell which nutrients your fertilizer has by reading the three hyphenated numbers on the product l
abel. For example, a fertilizer product label may read “8-0-24”, otherwise known as an N-P-K ratio. A fertilizer label with 8-0-24 written indicates that the fertilizer product contains eight parts nitrogen (N), zero parts phosphorus (P) and 24 parts potassium (K). Understanding this ratio enables you to determine the total number of pounds of each product ingredient in the bag. You can learn more about this in How to Read a Fertilizer Label.
When can I begin transitioning my lawn to a regular fertilizer schedule?
You can generally transition from an establishment fertilizer schedule to a regular fertilizer schedule after the first 30 days of establishment are up. The same can be said if you follow the New Lawn Starter Box schedule above.
Depending on the season you install your grass, you may be transitioning to the beginning of spring with the Spring Fertilizer Box. If you installed your sod in the summer, you may need to transition to the Fall Fertilizer Box.
Seasonal boxes differ as temperatures and soil conditions change throughout the year—your lawn needs certain nutrients at different times. For example, the Fall Fertilizer Box serves to help your lawn recover from the heat of summer and prepare for winter dormancy.
Lawnifi has made it easy to purchase an entire subscription for all three seasonal Lawnifi boxes that you can make annual or monthly payments on. This is actually cheaper than purchasing each seasonal box individually. For those who prefer traditional granular fertilizer applications, check out Lawnifi Foundation, a granular fertilizer that can be used throughout the different seasons all year long.
Be sure to also refer to our Homeowner Maintenance Guides for bermudagrass, bluegrass, centipede grass, fescue, St. Augustine and zoysia after the first 30 days are up. Each of the guides lay out maintenance tips for spring, summer and fall.