Can Fertilizer Damage New Grass?

When starting a new lawn, you aim to nurture it into a healthy, dense green cover with a deep root system that resists pests, weeds, diseases, and environmental stresses. This process starts with the soil, which sets the foundation for a healthy lawn.

Preparing your soil ensures that you create an environment conducive to optimal growth. But over time, essential nutrients from the soil deplete. Applying lawn fertilizer—whether liquid, granular, synthetic, or organic fertilizer—bridges this gap, providing your new grass with the right conditions and necessary nourishment to flourish from the beginning. The key to successful fertilizing lies in applying the right amount at the right time and under the right conditions.

Avoid These Mistakes When Using Fertilizer for New Grass

Many little gestures can do more harm than good when fertilizing your new lawn. These include using too much or the wrong type of grass fertilizer.


Over-fertilizing can cause fertilizer burn, where excess salts prevent moisture absorption, leading to dehydration. This is particularly problematic for new lawns with their underdeveloped roots. Even grass plugs, with their mature grass and developed root system, are vulnerable to dehydration during establishment—when they require consistent moisture for successful adaptation.

Additionally, overusing nitrogen, an essential fertilizer component, can result in long-term damage. Excessive nitrogen can trigger rapid leaf growth at the expense of a healthy root system in new grass, making your lawn weak and more susceptible to drought, weeds, pests, and diseases.

Using the Wrong Fertilizer

Using the wrong fertilizer can hinder the growth and development of new grass, which often benefits from lawn starter fertilizer. This type of fertilizer is high in phosphorus and nitrogen, boosting root development and leaf growth, and is ideal for establishing a healthy lawn.

However, understanding your soil's specific nutrient needs is crucial. While not always necessary, a soil test can provide valuable insights about its nutrient makeup, pH levels, and overall composition. With this information, you can determine the right fertilizers and soil amendments. A thorough soil analysis can also guide you on the nutrients needed and their required concentrations, giving your new grass the best chance to thrive.


Fertilizing New Grass: Is It Necessary?

Whether you're establishing a new lawn by planting seed, laying sod, or transplanting grass plugs, fertilizer can supply essential nutrients that support root establishment and overall growth. As new grass extends its root system into the soil in search of food and water, applying fertilizer during this critical establishment stage ensures that the nutrients are readily available and easily accessible by the new plants. This contributes to vigorous root development, which is crucial for anchoring the grass and absorbing water and nutrients from the soil.

Additionally, the nutrients from fertilizers encourage strong, healthy, and dense root growth. This increases your lawn's resistance to environmental stresses, including drought, pests, diseases, and foot traffic. It also helps new grass outcompete weeds for water, sunlight, and nutrients. Overall, fertilizing new grass sets a solid foundation for a healthy lawn in the long term.


The Best Fertilizer for Grass Plugs

Fertilizing new grass provides essential nutrients for successful establishment. NutriPod®, a starter fertilizer formulated for new grass plugs, embodies this concept.

It consists of granular fertilizers in slow-dissolving pods placed in planting holes before the grass plugs. This pre-measured design guarantees mess-free and precise nutrition, simplifying lawn care by eliminating the need for measuring, using a fertilizer spreader, and figuring out the spreader settings. Unlike liquid fertilizers, its slow-release formula provides a gradual and steady nutrient release, supporting healthy root development and reducing the risk of over-fertilization or nutrient leaching. This approach fosters successful turf establishment from grass plugs.

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