How to Fertilize a New Lawn

fertilize new lawn

Creating a lush, vibrant lawn from scratch is a gratifying venture that begins with strategic planning and diligent care.

One of the critical steps in this process is proper fertilization. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on fertilizing a new lawn, covering everything from soil preparation to ongoing maintenance.

Understanding the science behind fertilization and adopting best practices ensures your new lawn thrives and flourishes.

Understanding Soil Composition and pH Levels

Soil Composition

Before delving into the specifics of fertilization, it’s crucial to comprehend the soil your lawn will call home.

Conducting a soil test is the first step in this process. This test will unveil vital information about the soil’s pH levels, nutrient content, and texture.

With this knowledge, you can make informed decisions regarding the type and amount of fertilizer needed.

Soil Testing

Collecting Soil Samples:

You can also purchase a DIY soil test kit or reach out to your Local Cooperative Extension Office to have your soil tested in a lab.

Submitting Samples for Analysis:

Understanding pH Levels

ph levels

Acidic vs. Alkaline Soil

pH levels range from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Values below 7 indicate the soil is acidic, while values above 7 indicate the soil is alkaline.

Adjusting pH Levels

If your soil pH is too acidic for the turf type you plan on using, you can incorporate lime to raise pH levels in acidic soil, or you can add sulfur to lower pH levels in soil that is too alkaline.

Choosing the Right Fertilizer

Selecting the appropriate fertilizer is essential for the success of your new lawn. Different fertilizers are formulated to address specific nutrient deficiencies and cater to varying stages of grass growth.

Essential Nutrients


  1. Nitrogen (N): Promotes leafy, green growth.

  2. Phosphorus (P): Aids in root development and overall plant health.

  3. Potassium (K): Enhances disease resistance and stress tolerance.


  1. Iron, magnesium, calcium, and other trace elements are necessary in smaller quantities for optimal plant health.

NPK Ratio

Understanding Fertilizer Labels

  1. N-P-K values indicate the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium percentages, respectively. For example, a 10-20-10 fertilizer contains 10% nitrogen, 20% phosphorus, and 10% potassium.

Choosing the Right Ratio

  1. A starter fertilizer with equal or slightly higher proportions of nitrogen and phosphorus is recommended for a new lawn to stimulate root and shoot growth. The best thing you can do is make sure the product you are using is suitable for the type of grass you will be planting.

Establishing a Fertilization Schedule

Timing is crucial when it comes to fertilizing a new lawn. Understanding the growth phases of your grass and the regional climate will help determine the best schedule.

Initial Fertilization

Starter Fertilizer

  1. Rich in phosphorus to support root establishment.

  2. Apply during seeding or sodding, following label instructions for dosage. However, if you want to sow seeds, make sure the nitrogen and phosphorus levels are balanced. But, if you’re laying sod, there can be more phosphorus in the mix.

Sod Installation

  1. Apply fertilizer before laying sod, ensuring contact between the roots and the soil.

Follow-Up Fertilization

4-6 weeks:

Early Growth Phase

Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to provide sustained nutrition without overwhelming young plants.

8-10 weeks:


Reassess nutrient needs based on the lawn’s progress, using a balanced fertilizer as necessary.

12+ weeks:

Late Season

As the lawn matures, transition to a fertilizer with a higher nitrogen content to encourage lush, green growth.

Applying Fertilizer Effectively

Proper application techniques ensure nutrients reach the roots and are absorbed by the grass effectively.

Calibrating Spreaders

Choosing the Right Spreader

  1. Drop spreaders provide more precise control in small areas.

  2. Rotary spreaders cover larger spaces more efficiently.

Adjusting Settings

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set the spreader to the recommended rate for your specific fertilizer.

Even Distribution

Overlapping Passes

  1. Make parallel passes with the spreader, overlapping each pass slightly to ensure uniform coverage.

Avoiding Edges and Borders

  1. Maintain a buffer zone around the edges to prevent over-fertilization, which can lead to nitrogen burn, damaging your grass.

Watering and Incorporating Fertilizer

After application, watering is crucial to activate the fertilizer and facilitate its absorption into the soil.

Watering Immediately

Lightly Irrigate

Apply a gentle, even layer of water immediately after fertilizing to prevent burn and wash the nutrients into the soil.

Deep Watering

Follow up with a thorough watering to encourage root penetration and nutrient absorption.

Monitoring and Adjusting

Regular observation of your lawn’s progress allows you to make necessary adjustments to the fertilization regimen.

Visual Inspection

Growth Patterns

Monitor the lawn for signs of uniform growth and vibrant color.

Addressing Issues

If you notice discoloration, uneven growth, or other abnormalities, conduct another soil test and adjust your fertilization approach accordingly.

Fertilizing a New Lawn

Fertilizing a new lawn is a carefully orchestrated process that requires understanding soil composition, nutrient requirements, and precise application techniques.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be equipped to nurture a thriving, lush lawn that serves as a testament to your dedication and horticultural prowess.

Remember, a well-fertilized lawn enhances the beauty of your outdoor space and provides a welcoming environment for family and friends to enjoy for years to come.

If you have decided that you would rather leave this job to the professionals, no worries. You can call Gecko Green for a free lawn fertilization quote today!

Call for a free quote today!