What to Consider When Using Starter Grass Fertilizer

What to Consider When Using Starter Grass Fertilizer

Seeding a new yard requires more than hard work along with some grass seed. Applying a starter grass fertilizer to the soil before spreading the seed gives the plants a boost by helping with root institution. Starter grass fertilizer is high in potassium to gain the main system of the germinated seed. This helps set the grass before the significant green growth happens.

Fertilizer Components

Starter grass fertilizer includes nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The tag will show the substances as N-P-K along with the ratio identifying how much of each is in the mixture. Phosphorus is necessary for grass root development and represented as the highest amount in the ratio. Nitrogen promotes green growth and is not required in high amounts until after germination and root development. Potassium can also be low in starter fertilizer and never required in high amounts until the grass begins growing and spreading.

Application Period

Starter fertilizer is effective when applied before seeding so that the active ingredients are available during turf establishment. Insert the fertilizer to the soil before planting by spreading it over the soil and working it in with a shovel or rake into a depth of 2 to 4 inches. Avoid tilling the fertilizer into the soil to stop it from becoming too heavy to get the roots to obtain the nutrients.

Application Rate

The University of California recommends an application rate of 20 pounds of a 5-10-5 starter fertilizer for every 1,000 square-feet of yard or 10 pounds of a 10-20-10 starter fertilizer. Avoid using a starter fertilizer that contains more than 1 pound of nitrogen for every 1,000 square-foot of yard to stop issues with germination. A 5-10-5 starter fertilizer applied at a rate of 20 pounds contains the maximum 1 pound of nitrogen.


Buy a house soil test kit to help determine the starter fertilizer ratio that best fits the needs of your dirt. The test results will indicate if there are some mineral deficiencies that can be fixed before planting grass seed. Avoid applying starter fertilizer to add nutrients to the soil before completing a soil test, in order to prevent issues with seed germination and growth.

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