A visit to your local garden center will introduce you to an aisle with an array of fertilizers, all formulated to nurture healthy, vibrant vegetation. Among these options, you’ll probably encounter lawn starter fertilizers, which, as you would guess, are something you would have to use to start a new lawn.
In this article, we are taking the guesswork out of using starter fertilizer for grass as we answer five frequently asked questions about the application and benefits of this essential plant food.
1. What is starter fertilizer?
Whether you're starting a new lawn from grass seed or sod or filling in sparse areas with grass plugs, starter fertilizer delivers a concentrated dose of essential nutrients in the initial stages of grass growth. It fosters strong root development to optimize the potential for successful grass establishment and lay the foundation for a long-term healthy lawn.
Available as liquid and granular fertilizers, these fertilizers are used in small quantities and are applied near the sod at planting to help your grass establish quicker in the soil and accelerate growth.
2. What is the difference between starter fertilizer and regular fertilizer?
While both are formulated to nurture a healthy lawn, the difference between regular and starter fertilizers is in their intended use and composition. Both contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, but the ratios vary to support plant life at different stages.
Starter fertilizer focuses on the early stages of grass growth, usually providing a higher dose of phosphorus to emphasize strong roots—think of it as a booster shot for your new grass. Meanwhile, regular fertilizers are more general-purpose and cater to the overall nutritional requirements of mature grass plants to sustain them over the long term. It means that your choice of lawn fertilizer is not a matter of starter versus regular. It's about recognizing how these two types complement each other in supporting and nurturing your grass.
3. What is the best starter fertilizer ratio?
Different starter fertilizers also vary slightly in composition, with different NPK ratios. The best fertilizer ratio for your lawn will depend on how you're establishing your new lawn, whether through sod, plugs, or seed.
NutriPod™ stands out as a slow-release grass plug nutrition with a 17-1-10 NPK ratio. Because grass plugs already have established roots, each pod is formulated to provide balanced fertilizer nutrients to promote both immediate leaf growth and long-term vitality.
4. How do you use starter fertilizer?
Our grass plug starter fertilizer is designed for sustainability and convenience. Each NutriPod™ has precisely measured nutrients, ensuring your grass plug receives the right amount at the right time, thus eliminating the risks of using too much fertilizer and nutrient leaching.
Simply drop a NutriPod™ into each hole before planting your grass plug. As a slow-release fertilizer, its effects are long-lasting, providing sustained nourishment for up to 45 days. It promotes consistent and even growth, while also minimizing the need for frequent reapplication.
You can also apply starter fertilizer to grass seed and sod. A soil test will assess your soil's pH and nutrient composition, which will determine the exact quantity of fertilizer you need. But, general recommendations indicate that you should apply starter fertilizers at 0.5-1 lb nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Anything in excess can damage your lawn.
Apply starter fertilizer evenly across the soil surface. When using granular fertilizers, till the granules 4-6 inches into the soil before seeding or laying sod—do not apply it directly onto the newly planted sod to prevent potential grass burning.
5. How often should you apply starter fertilizer?
Starter fertilizer is usually a one-time application, intended for use during the planting stage to provide the necessary nutrients for initial growth. While you can use it in a newly established lawn, it's advisable to transition to a regular fertilizer specifically for established grass.
For ongoing care and maintenance, fertilize your lawn every 6-8 weeks to ensure a consistent supply of nutrients to keep your lawn healthy and vibrant throughout the growing season.
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