Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Apply Grass Starter Fertilizer

By D.C. Winston ; Updated September 21, 2017

Application of lawn starter fertilizer is an integral step in preparing for seeding, sodding, plugging or patching any new turf grass. With the large amounts of water used to germinate seed and keep sod moist through the establishment phase, a lot of natural nutrients get washed through the soil to depths that new roots can't reach. Lawn starter formulas step in to fill this breach until the roots can pull nutrients from the prepared soil bed. Many lawn starter formulas recommend one application at planting and a second application a few weeks later.

Determine the amount of starter fertilizer required by measuring the width and depth of your prepared planting bed. Multiply the width times the depth to get the square footage of the area to be fertilized. Consult the label of the fertilizer formula to determine the amount of produce needed for the square footage of your site. More fertilizer is not better and can be counterproductive in mass doses so follow the label guidelines.

Load the proper amount of fertilizer for your acreage into your mechanical spreader and begin by walking around the perimeter of the grass area, and then walk over the interior of the area in even rows. Overlap the edges between each row a bit so that the applied grass will grow and green evenly and not be striped or discolored where no fertilizer was deposited.

Apply the fertilizer over a deeply tilled soil bed amended with well-aged manure and compost. Use a rake to scratch on the starter fertilizer into the top inch or so of prepared soil. Use the back of the rake to level out the soil to prepare it for the sowing of grass seed or planting of sod or plugs.

Mist the area to settle the soil and the starter fertilizer and to provide a surface for seed or sod to stick to when it is laid down. Use the hose attachment set on a mist or light rain setting to avoid disturbing the soil or making uneven divots.


Things You Will Need

  • Grass starter fertilizer
  • Walking fertilizer spreader/caster
  • Rake
  • Water hose w/ adjustable nozzle sprayer