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When to Fertilize New Sod?

Discover the optimal timing and techniques for fertilizing new sod to promote strong root growth and a lush, vibrant lawn.

Ever wondered how the perfectly green grass on a football ground never gets tall? This is no magic, it’s a type of pre-grown grass that is called the new sod. Once you create your lawn, you must feed and water the grass on time. 

This article will explain all about new sod, why and when to fertilize it, what is the right dose for new sod, and all about it. Learn how to grow your lawn and always fertilize it at the right time.

Understanding the Basics of New Sod

New sod comes attached with a layer of soil and looks like a carpet of grass that is almost two to three inches in width. After installing the sod on the ground, it is properly rolled and mowed to ensure the grip of the roots with the soil. Formation of the roots is the initial step; this involves the roots growing and branching further deep into the soil.

Hand lifting a corner of new sod to reveal soil underneath showing the basics of sod installation

You should follow these 5 main steps for healthy growth of the sod:

  1. Water regularly: Start watering the sod soon after it is installed; the grass needs to be well-soaked in water before we move to the next step.  
  2. Roll the sod: After watering the freshly sowed lawn, it is time for the sod to be rolled properly. This will encourage the fastest growth possible as the sod will be well-placed above the soil. 
  3. Inspect the soil: Check the formation of the roots by gently lifting them from one corner every day. The state of the soil should also be noted to better understand the speed of root formation. 
  4. Mow the lawn: Once the roots get well attached to the sod, you may notice some quick growth of the grass. Mow the unnecessary grass to ensure a smooth finish of the ground. 
  5. Guided use of fertilizers: Wait until the roots get fully attached to the soil and start growing. Early use of fertilizers can ruin the roots due to direct exposure, so maintaining the timing is crucial.

When to Fertilize New Sod?

Sod should remain well-hydrated with fertilizers to prevent any damage and ensure proper growth from the start. A balance of essential nutrients like Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. All plants need nutrients to grow, and a balanced use of fertilizers is essential for the growth of all green plants. 

Bag of fertilizer with a scoop on lush new sod with gardening gloves indicating the right time for fertilization

Here’s how the NPK ratio can help: 

Nutrients 

Benefits 

Nitrogen (N)

It is important for plant growth as the presence of nitrogen plays a role in the production of chlorophyll. The absence of chlorophyll will make the grass lose its greenness. 

Potassium (K) 

Enhances the development of roots and is very vital for plant growth. Strengthens the root system making sod prone to sunlight and drought and managing food deficits. 

Phosphorus (P)

Regulates water movement within the plant and improves disease resistance, leading to stress tolerance.  

Fertilization Timeline

Since all other plants can be easily seeded, new sod needs some attention here as it grows differently. Some roots are already present in the sod or even remain attached to the soil on the ground before merging with new roots, ensuring a deeper grip. 

It is not easy to create a lush green lawn by using new sod; it requires patience and hard work. Once you notice visible growth, observe the grip of the sod with the soil by gently lifting it. You can also notice other factors like the color of the grass. 

Child crouched on grass holding colored pencils symbolizing the planning phase of a fertilization timeline

Still wondering when to start fertilizing the sod? Here is a general timeline as per the speed of root development in new sod:

First Phase of Fertilization 

This period allows the newly installed sod to focus on the development of a strong root system. After some time, the grass gets settled, and the process of root formation should start before the need for a dose of fertilizers. 

– Week 1

During this time, you just have to water the new sod thoroughly (basically keeping the soil moist) in the morning and evening. This is to be practiced during the first week after sod installation. Frequent watering promotes root development, which is the first step and encourages healthy overall growth.

– Week 2 

Keep a check on your lawn and check for any signs of diseases, rotten leaves, or overgrowth; these are signs of overwatering the sod. Make sure to frequently examine the surface for any unwanted growth. 

– Week 3

Do you notice any signs of bad root formation or patches where roots are missing? Then, you must know that it is time to start fertilizing.

Is Your New Sod Ready for Fertilization? 

While climatic factors have their way of conveying their condition, you need to look for signs in the sod to check readiness for fertilization:

Worker laying new sod on soil illustrating the process before deciding if sod is ready for fertilization

  • Root strength: Gently tug on a small corner of the sod to assess root development. If the sod feels secure and can not be pulled up easily, it’s a good sign that the roots are anchoring themselves firmly in the soil. 

Anchoring the roots with the soil leads to the growth of a strong support system that efficiently absorbs water from the soil, making sod less reliant on frequent watering.

  • Green growth: Look for any new growth on the sod. New growth signifies the grass is actively establishing itself and transitioning to its new home. If you notice dense green carpets with new shoots, this is a sign that the sod has acclimated well to the environment and is now ready for fertilizer intake. 

A dense carpet of new green shoots indicates a healthy sod that has successfully acclimated to its new environment and is now ready to benefit from additional nutrients provided by fertilizer.

  • Low water requirements: As the root system develops further, the sod becomes more efficient in absorbing water from the soil. After the sod roots grow deep, they can easily reach moisture zones under the soil.

Once you notice a significant reduction in watering frequency, the established root system will take over the responsibility of water uptake.

  • Read the signs: A slight decrease in watering needs is a sign that the sod is ready for the first dose of fertilizer. Fertilizers are necessary nutrients that promote healthy root growth and support the development of the grass.

Choosing the Right Fertilizer for New Sod 

Now that you have read about the needs and benefits of fertilizers in the growth of new sod and promoting healthy root development. Let’s read the key differences between organic and synthetic fertilizers for the growth of new sod:

Type of fertilizer

Advantages 

Drawbacks 

Preferred for New Sod

Organic 

Growth is slow in plants on organic fertilizers

Results not predictable 

Yes, it is the most suitable method for any plant. 

Synthetic 

Nutrients are available readily, and precise delivery of nutrients 

New roots might break with over-application. Guided use is only allowed. 

Not ideal for personal use, to be used under supervision or by professionals

Although all organic fertilizers offer long-term benefits and are also advantageous to the environment, organic fertilizers release nutrients slowly, which is likely to affect the growth of new sod in the initial stage.

For freshly grown sod, a balanced synthetic fertilizer with a slight emphasis on phosphorus is a smart choice. 

Close up of a green hand held fertilizer spreader dispensing white granules onto lawn for choosing right fertilizer for new sod

Post Fertilization Routine 

Fertilization takes time to show results but is significant for the overall health and beauty of the sod that you grow in your lawn. Make sure to follow a well-designed post-fertilization routine and fulfill the nourishment requirements. 

Below are some of the aspects to consider for a good post-fertilization routine:

  • Climatic factors: Just as the seasons change, your lawn’s nutritional needs are likely to change, too, as the weather changes. 
  • Testing soil: Once the soil completes one cycle, getting it tested for any deficiencies is advisable. 
  • Fertilization schedule: Once you have noted the growth and features of your new lawn, develop a regular fertilization schedule.

Tips and Considerations

Along with the factors mentioned above, here are some additional tips to follow: 

  1. Rate of application: Fertilizers come with a user manual, and it is always best to adhere to the application rate mentioned. Exceeding the application rate can lead to damage and overgrowth, ruining the grass. 
  2. Hydrate properly: During summers, plants require more water, and it is advised to always water the new sod before fertilizers are applied.  Following these simple steps gives great results and promotes healthy growth. 
  3. Be patient: After the initial set-up of the new sod in the soil, it is recommended to wait for at least 30-50 days to allow the sod to settle. Starting with fertilizers early can hinder the initial growth, so it is best to wait for the right time. 

Fresh sod roll beside raked soil with a rake handle visible depicting tips and considerations for lawn preparation

Conclusion

Anyone can set up a lush green lawn in their backyard with new sod. What needs more attention are the steps that follow installation. You have to plan the watering schedule, ensure mowing, and keep a check on the growth. 

After new sod shows signs of healthy growth on the roots, it is time to identify the nutritional requirements. Still, figuring out what fertilizer to choose? Check our range of organic and synthetic fertilizers for your new sod and get the desired results.

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