Pre-turf fertiliser, what is it, why do I need it? The Turfonline team strongly advise anyone creating a new lawn to rake a little pre-turf fertiliser into the soil before sowing seed or laying turf.  But why?  In this article we discuss the importance of pre-turf fertiliser.

What is pre-turf fertiliser?

Pre-turf fertiliser is used to improve soil fertility before laying turf or sowing grass seed. It helps to produce healthy plants that will grow strongly and evenly. When your lawn is healthy from the very beginning it will repel weeds and resist disease.

Look for a pre-turf fertiliser that contains  basic plant foods.

  • Nitrogen to promote leaf growth and Magnesium Oxide to aid the production of chlorophyll to encourage lush, green colour
  • Phosphorus to keep the grass roots strong and healthy
  • Potassium to help your lawn fight disease and increase its water absorption
  • Trace Elements
  • Seaweed to stimulate soil bacteria to help release nutrients to your lawn.

Turfonline Recommends Rapid Roots pre-turf fertiliser 

Why does grass need feeding?

Good question.  We find grass to thrive at the side of the road, on the village green and between paving stones. But why make a big deal of adding food to a lawn when grass doesn’t seem to need it anywhere else?

The grass you see at the side of the road is rarely the same type of grass as you’ll find in a beautiful lawn.  If you get the opportunity, take a close look at it.  The leaves are coarse, the stalks are wiry and there aren’t actually that many plants.  If rough grass were mown down to 5cm high it would probably look awful.

turf field
Just one of our turf fields. This is a young crop of Jubilee grade turf

Lawn grasses have been specially bred to  make a lawn.  They are fine-leaved, are nice to sit on and are happy to be mown short.  Because there are a higher concentration of plants than in a road verge, they need a higher concentration of food in the soil.  Lawn grasses are the athletes of the plant world. They need a really good diet if they are going to perform.

New turf needs nutrients

Turf is grown in fields with plenty of sunshine, rain and whatever nature throws at it.  These fields have deep soil and so the grasses push their roots down as far as they can to access water and nutrients.  The roots are the powerhouse of the grass plants.  The longer the roots, the stronger the plants.

time to add pre-turf fertiliser
When the soil has been prepared and levelled ready for turfing, it’s time to add pre-turf fertiliser to help your new lawn get established.

Then along comes a turf harvester.  It slices off the leaves, the crown and the top 2cm of the soil that the roots are growing in.  Rolls it all up and puts it on a pallet to deliver to your house.  The turf harvester leaves behind the other 98 or so cm of root – that stays in the ground where it composts down to replenish the soil.

Your turf has had a very large proportion of its root mass removed.  In plant terms, that’s the equivalent of having a teenager let loose in your larder a week before pay day.  The food stores are horribly depleted and there’s no way of replacing them. You, as the new custodian of the turf, need to come to the rescue.  You can do that by ensuring there are plenty of nutrients in the soil for those poor depleted roots to feed on.

What nutrients do plants need?

There are a whole host of food groups that plants use to grow and thrive.  Our bodies use carbohydrates fats and proteins along with vitamins and minerals.  Plants use Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus for vigour with simple minerals to help with health and vitality.  Most soils contain some plant minerals but without thorough (and expensive) tests, you won’t know what’s there and what isn’t.

Far better to add them in to the soil just before laying new turf.

What does pre-turf fertiliser cost?

I can understand that when you’ve already paid for turf, delivery, a new hosepipe and possibly even some help with the ground preparation – you don’t want to shell out any more than you have to.

The cost of pre-turf fertiliser is minimal.  We’re talking of less than 10p per square metre, that’s not much in the big scheme of things. It’s  only a tiny percentage of what you have already paid.   If you need to save money, it’s better to borrow the hosepipe from a neighbour or ask your turf supplier if he offers cheaper delivery rates on certain week days (some of them do).

Further Reading

Caring for new turf

Order pre-turf fertiliser online