Turfgrass establishment is a unique phase in turfgrass growth, which can require greater quantities of water and nutrients than established turfgrass. To this end, the establishment phase should be considered carefully to minimize environmental risk. Adequate nitrogen and phosphorus are critical for rapid turf establishment and prevention of soil erosion; therefore, soil testing should be conducted before grow-in to determine the amount of nutrients needed. Long-term problems, such as weed encroachment, diseases, and drought susceptibility can be reduced with proper seedbed fertility. More information can be found in Nutrient Management Guidelines for Commercial Turfgrass Seeding. 2005. University of Maryland and the Nutrient Management section of this website.
Best Management Practices
- The area to be established should be properly prepared.
- Ensure erosion and sediment control devices are in place and properly maintained.
- Conduct a soil test before seeding to determine nutrient needs.
- Sprigs should be “knifed-in” and rolled to hasten root establishment.
- Sod should be topdressed to fill in the gaps between sod pieces and seams. This hastens establishment and provides a smoother surface.
- Use appropriate seeding methods for your conditions. When using sod, nutrient applications should be delayed until sod has sufficiently rooted.
- When using sprigs, application rates for nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium should correspond to percent ground cover (i.e. increasing rate as ground coverage increases).
- Slow-release nitrogen or light, frequent applications of soluble-nitrogen sources should be used during grow-in.
- Apply nutrients to the turf surface. Incorporating nutrients into the root zone does not result in more rapid establishment.
- Mow as soon as the sod has knitted-down, i.e., when sprigs have rooted at the second to third internode and seedlings have reached a height of one-third greater than intended height-of-cut. This will hasten establishment.