After your St. Augustine plants take root and begin to grow, fertilizer will be needed to feed them. Before you head to the garden store to purchase fertilizer, make sure to have a calculator and a calendar. Your St. Augustine plants will still need fertilizer, but you must follow the rules of your State or County. So, before you rush into fertilizing, let’s look at all the different elements that make up a fertilizing schedule and what considerations you need to make.
When is it best for St Augustine to fertilize new sod? (The Short Answer
New soil from St. Augustine should be fertilized no later than 30 days after it is planted. Before fertilizing, make sure that the soil has rooted correctly and is healthy. You must comply with all laws in your country, state, and city, including blackout dates, annual fertilizer limits, and any other restrictions.
Fertilizing Schedule Restrictions: New St. Augustine Sod
Before you plan a fertilizing schedule, it is important to review the rules and restrictions in place by your state and local authorities. Your new St. Augustine seed must fit within an existing annual schedule. So, let’s take a closer look at the items that determine your new fertilizing schedule.
Which Rules to Follow: State, County, City
Once you start looking for which sets of rules to follow, you’ll see that there are different regulations for city, county, and state. So which one should you follow? Because individual cities may have restrictions that are more appropriate for their particular environments, the state is more likely to be accommodating than the city. You should read all regulations. You will likely find that the regulations in the city are either the same as those in the state or more restrictive.
Fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus in places such as Florida can’t be used during certain parts of the year. This blackout is caused by the rainy seasons. It occurs between June 30th and October 1st. It is a combination of near-daily rain and daily rainfall that wash the surface and deposits chemical pollutants like nitrogen or phosphorus into the waterways. This causes severe damage to aquatic ecosystems.
So, if new St. Augustine sod needs to be fed during these blackout periods, you can’t use a fertilizer that contains nitrogen or phosphorus. Your new sod will not take fertilizers that contain phosphorus or nitrogen. But don’t worry, I will tell you a way to work around this.
Nitrogen Annual Limit
The next restriction you’ll have to account for is the amount of nitrogen you can apply to any singular space within one calendar year. In Florida, for example, you can only apply 4 lbs of nitrogen to 1000 square footage in a single calendar year.
Nitrogen Content Application Limit
To make matters more complicated, local authorities may limit how much nitrogen fertilizer you can use. Florida is one example of an area that limits nitrogen to 20%. So, if you pick up a bag of fertilizer N-22 written on the side, then you will be breaking the law if you use it because the 22% nitrogen content is over the city’s restriction.
Total Nitrogen Application per Single Application Limit
This restriction affects how much nitrogen can be used at once. The local authorities have set limits on how much nitrogen can be spread over 1000 square feet. Limits of 1lb for every 1000 feet could be in place.
Total Nitrogen Application per Year
You’re probably starting to think that there are a lot of rules when it comes to fertilizing your lawn. There are many rules that will guide your fertilizing schedule. The next restriction is the maximum number of fertilizations you can perform in a given year during non-blackout hours.
This is the exact same example:
- 4lb/1000ft2 per year
- 1lb/1000ft2 per application
You can make up four applications to spread the 4lb annual limit. There will be more applications than that in your area each year. Simply divide the maximum nitrogen per year limit by the number of applications per year and you’ll find how much you can spread. Here’s an example.
- 4lb/1000ft2 per year ÷ 6 maximum application per year = 0.66lb/1000ft2 per application.
This example shows you that you can have up to 6 applications and still meet the requirements. I said that you would need a calculator.
Slow Release Fertilizer Nitrogen Maximum
Slow release fertilizer (SRF), a fertilizer that gradually releases its contents over a longer time, is called slow release fertilizer. Granular fertilizer may take up to three months before it completely dissolves. This means that you can fertilize lawn even on blackout dates. Within the city fertilizing ordinance, you’ll see a requirement such as a 50% slow-release minimum, meaning that half of the fertilizers you need to use are slow-release.
Limits to Phosphorus
The same as nitrogen limits, phosphorus has a limit. So, if you see that the phosphorus limit in your area says 2% phosphorus, you’ll need to make sure that the fertilizer you use doesn’t exceed this maximum.
Factors that may influence how you fertilize your St. Augustine sod
Now that you are aware of the unavoidable restrictions set in place by local authorities, you’ll see that you have several months available to fertilize. There are many other things to keep in mind. Let’s take a look at what these are.
Weather during Allowed Fertilizing Times
Texas fertilizes new St. Augustine soil in Texas the same way Florida fertilizes new St. Augustine in Florida. This common factor is the difference in temperature between the north and south.
Texas is nearly 1000 miles from top to bottom, and Florida is almost 450. Frost rolls, for example, can be found in Amarillo, Northern Texas, in the middle of November, while it is rare in Corpus Christi in Texas. Similar is Florida. Key West stays relatively warm all year, while Tallahassee experiences significant temperature drops and can often be subject to frosts in winter.
If you reside in the Northern areas of these states, you should plan and lay your final fertilizer at the least six months prior to the first frost. You shouldn’t fertilize if you have new St. Augustine sod during the frost cut-off.
These considerations are why your fertilizing schedule should be tailored to your area. Generic schedules can be more harmful than beneficial.
Waiting for the grasses become active
One thing you don’t want to do is spread fertilizer on dormant grass or new sod. Wait for the grass to grow before making the first cut. You must allow the sod to grow until it has roots. Once you look at your schedule, you’ll quickly notice that a lot of the year is blacked-out because of city rules, frost, waiting for the grass to become active, and waiting for new sod to root.
Gap between Applications
Next is how long you should wait before applying. Fertilizers with slow releases are expected to last between 6-8 WEEKS. It is recommended to wait two months between fertilizer applications. Overfertilizing can cause plants to become weaker and more susceptible to diseases and pests. So if you have the sod on ground that’s already been fertilized, you could risk over-fertilizing.
Fertilizing Schedule for New St. Augustine Sod
All of this information will allow to you to put together your fertilizing plan and figure out when to fertilize St. Augustine. Here is an example I’ve used to show how to put together a fertilizing schedule. In this example, I’ve chosen Sanibel, Florida.
Schedule for Fertilizing New St. Augustine Sod
First, cross out the periods when you can’t and don’t want to fertilize. This includes the dates when regulations say you can’t and when weather and growing patterns say you shouldn’t. The next step is to plan the spread of applications over the available time.
So, let’s look at Sanibel.
Sanibel’s blackout period is limited by city regulations, and not weather. It’s between June 30th and October 1st. This is equivalent of 13 weeks of blackout followed by 39 weeks of fertilizing. Sanibel has an eight-week limit on fertilization, so fertilize once every eight or two months after the blackout. This is possible within the time available. The slow release will continue to feed the St. Augustine throughout each year, with the exception of the five weeks at the end.
So, after gathering all this information and making your calculations, you’ll see that if you already follow a proper fertilizing schedule, there is no need to fertilize your new sod because the soil already has the necessary nutrients available. However, if you’re not already following a schedule, then as long as you’re not in the blackout period, wait at least four weeks before fertilizing your new St. Augustine sod.
Here’s what this example would look like in table form:
|Month||Blackout Periods||When to Apply|
|January||January 22nd, Fertilizer application|
|March||March 19th Fertilizer Applications|
|May||Fertilizer Application May 14th|
|June||Fertilizer Application June 29th|
|October||Fertilizer Application October 2nd|
|November||Fertilizer Application November 27th|
Advice on Fertilizing New Saint Augustine Sod
I’m a firm believer in taking the guesswork out of any situation; this includes whether you should fertilize new St. Augustine sod. Here are some tips for fertilizing your new St. Augustine soil.
A soil test is the best method to determine how much fertilizer your lawn needs. A soil test can tell you what your lawn needs and how much. Before you spend money on fertilizer, make sure you do a soil test.
Have A Fertilizing Schedule Before You Lay Sod
Calculating a schedule is a good idea if you haven’t already laid your sod or have just done it. A fertilizing schedule will answer any questions regarding whether or not you should or shouldn’t fertilize. To help you decide when to fertilize, a soil test is available.
Apply for a Special Fertilizing License
Now, if you find that you really need to fertilize your new St. Augustine sod and you’re within the restricted period, then you could try to call your local city and ask if they offer a special fertilizing permit. Many states offer fertilizing permits that can be used in order to circumvent these restrictions.