Fertilizer for grass on a lakefront
We are planning to lay sod on our lakefront and wife wants to know what fertilizers to use and stay away from to help the sod take hold? Thanks!
Oakland County Michigan
The answer to your question comes in two parts since you mention both new sod and lakefront.
Because you're laying new sod, you can use a lawn fertilizer that contains phosphorus. These products are often labelled as "starter" fertilizers. You can identify them by the nutrient ratio on the package. The three numbers on the package separated by colons represent the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in the fertilizer. For most lawn fertilizers, the middle (phosphorous) number is zero. For starter fertilizers, it is not.
In general, your fertilization schedule depends on the results you want to see and the maintenance that you are willing to undertake. More frequent fertilization results in a greener thicker lawn, but requires irrigation and more frequent mowing. The first linked article below provides a schedule. We recommend mowing at 3 - 4" high, as it improves the root structure of the turf and reduces weed pressure.
My caution here is about lakefront. To minimize the amount of fertilizer runoff into the lake, and the problems that this runoff creates, it's recommended that you maintain a 10 foot buffer zone between the water and any fertilizer or pesticide application. Sod might not be the best choice for that buffer zone, since without fertilization and weed control, its quality will decline.
Below are links to a few articles that provide more information on these topics: