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How to Fertilize New Sod

By Jennifer Loucks ; Updated September 21, 2017

Sod is an application of mature lawn that has been carefully cut into thick rolls. The sod roll includes soil and root structure that aids in quick growth once it has been applied to bare soil. Fertilizer adds nutrients to the soil and promotes root and blade growth in the newly laid sod. Application should be prior to laying the sod and after the roots are held tightly in the soil.

Add compost to the bare soil at a rate of 3 cubic yards per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Till the compost into the lawn soil at least 6 inches in depth. Compost is a natural fertilizer that increases the nutrient level of the soil.

Apply fertilizer prior to laying sod. Sprinkle a mixture of 1-2-1 fertilizer on the soil surface without working it in.

Lightly water the soil surface just prior to laying sod in that area. The watering is to moisten the soil, not assist with fertilizer absorption.

Water the sod thoroughly after it has been laid to initiate root growth and assist with fertilizer absorption. Continue to water newly laid sod twice daily for the first 2 weeks at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per day.

Mow newly laid sod after the roots have become tightly rooted into the soil. Test by pulling on the sod to verify that it does not pull up. This will take approximately 4 to 6 weeks. The sod should be approximately 2 1/2 to 3 inches in height prior to mowing. Mow with a sharp blade to a length of approximately 1/3 the total height for the first two to three times.

Fertilize the newly laid sod 4 to 6 weeks after it is laid. Apply fertilizer after the first mowing has occurred. Choose a balanced fertilizer that has slow nitrogen release such as 13-13-13. Water the fertilizer after application to promote absorption.

Fertilize sod a minimum of two times per year, once in spring and again in early fall. Water sod regularly when there is less than 1 inch of rainfall per week.


Things You Will Need

  • Compost
  • Tiller
  • 1-2-1 lawn fertilizer
  • Water
  • Mower
  • 13-13-13 lawn fertilizer


  • Adding fertilizer prior to laying sod will give the new root structure an immediate contact with nutrients.
  • Do not apply fertilizer to wet grass as it may cause burning.
  • Summer fertilizer applications should be applied at 50 percent the normal amount to prevent burning and damage to the grass blades during the heat of the summer.

About the Author


Jennifer Loucks has been writing since 1998. She previously worked as a technical writer for a software development company, creating software documentation, help documents and training curriculum. She now writes hobby-based articles on cooking, gardening, sewing and running. Loucks also trains for full marathons, half-marathons and shorter distance running. She holds a Bachelor of Science in animal science and business from University of Wisconsin-River Falls.