Promoting grass growth in horse pasture

Asked June 10, 2019, 10:46 AM EDT

Our daughter has 2 horses. She and her husband have cleared a section of their property to use as pasture for their horses. The dirt is average (not sand, not clay). They planted a "pasture blend" of grass seed 2 weeks ago. They would like to fertilize that area soon with a liquid fertilizer to help the grass grow faster and more dense. Do you have any recommendations on what type of fertilizer to use, and what type of fertilizer to avoid? Ideally they would like to apply the fertilizer using an attachment on a garden hose. Also, considering the wet weather that is in the forecast, would they be wasting their time and effort fertilizing now if the fertilizer will potentially be washed away or soaked into the soil too deep to be effective. Thank you!

Ottawa County Michigan

1 Response

Soil testing for pH and nutrient levels is the best way to determine what the soil may need to be productive. Soil test results will offer guidance on fertilizer recommendations. Otherwise, everything else is a guess really and can be an expensive waste of resources. Ideally, soil testing is done before seeding but still should be done. Soil test are relatively inexpensive (typically less than $15) and are considered to be relevant for a 3 year period. You can get soil sampling materials at your local extension office or you can also check with your local feed elevator or feed store to inquire if they offer this service. Fertilizer application - plants quickly take up most water soluble (liquid) fertilizers vs. granular fertilizers that need a little time to dissolve before plants can access the nutrients. Fertilizer application on a dry day followed by a rain will allow granular fertilizers to soak in. On another note in regard to newly seeded pastures. It is important to let forage plants establish a good root system. If horses are turned out too early, they may pull plants out by the roots while grazing. Mow/clip (not less than 4 inches) the newly seeded pasture a time or two before turning horses out to graze.