The Q&A Archives: fertilizer for my new lawn

Question: I just had new sod laid in about half of my existing yard and they told me not to fertilize my lawn for about two months. I haven't done any fertilizer or weed control for the rest of my lawn yet. Is there something that I should be doing now for the old part of the lawn. Would it hurt my new sod if it was fertilized now also? After spending quite a bit of money to have it laid, I want to take good care of it. We have been having rain almost every day since the sod was laid (three weeks ago) and I mowed the yard (highest level) for the first time this past weekend. Any help you can give is most appreciated.


Answer: Denise,

I am sorry for this delayed reply to your gardening question. The spring rush has brought a deluge of questions and we are working hard to catch up!

There is not rush to fertlize. It will grow fine for now. When you do wish to add some nutrients avoid weed control products as many of them can stress sod in the heat. Good lawn care can be summarized in three cultural practices: mowing, watering and fertilizing. If you will do these three properly, your lawn will be the best on the block!

Frequent mowing is better than infrequent mowing. Mow on a 5-7 day schedule, removing no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade with each mowing. For example, a St. Augustine turf should be mowed to 2 1/2" when it reaches 3", while a semi-dwarf bermuda or zoysia would be mowed to 1 1/2 or 2" when it reached 2 or 2 1/2".
While many homeowners like to water 15 minutes a day, your turf will benefit from a good soaking applied less often. Apply 1/2 to 1 inch of water once or twice a week. A coffee can makes a good rain gauge to test out how long it will need to be run to apply an inch. Frequent wetting promotes disease problems and a shallow rooted turf. Let the soil dry out a bit between waterings and the grass will develop a deep root system and do much better.

Fertilize with no more than 1/2 to 1 pound of nitrogen in spring after you have mowed the grass twice, and again in fall (around late October). Apply a product with a 3-1-2 ratio of nutrients as this is roughly the ratio of nutrients grass takes in. So, for example, if you purchased a 15-5-10 fertilizer (15% nitrogen), you would apply about 7 pounds per 1000 square feet (1 pound / .15 = about 7). If you purchased a 21-7-14 fertilizer (21 % nitrogen), you would apply about 5 pounds per 1000 square feet (1 pound / .21 = about 5).

Healthy turf will choke out most of its weed problems. When the turf is thin and soil is exposed to the sunlight, weeds will sprout and you have a battle on your hands. So first concentrate on the above 3 cultural practices and you will be amazed at the results.

Thanks for the question. Best wishes for a wonderful gardening season. Please stop in again soon!

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