Organic Fertilizers Vs Conventional Fertilizers: What You Need To Know
The big difference between organic lawn fertilizer and conventional mixes is largely makeup. While slow-release organic fertilizer tends to be comprised of natural ingredients, synthetic fertilizers are created via manually processing raw materials.
But there are many more differences between organic and synthetic fertilizers, such as:
- Organic fertilizers work to feed not just the plant and the grass, but the soil as well. In other words, organic fertilizers promote healthy soil and lush lawns. Just do a before and after soil test and see the difference for yourself. Conventional fertilizers tend to just feed the grass and plants.
- Organic fertilizers wont just help feed your lawn immediately, but theyre also safe for pets and children, and safe for the environment.
- Unlike with conventional fertilizer, if you inadvertently over-apply organic lawn fertilizer, youre likely not going to damage the lawn. When you use conventional fertilizers, failure to spread over the lawn evenly can lead to a burned lawn.
- When you apply the best organic lawn fertilizer types, youll actually find that you have to apply less overall fertilizer because natural ingredients work harder for longer compared to synthetic chemicals.
Its even available in larger quantities for treating golf courses.
Chemical Fertilizer Vs Organic Fertilizer
When selecting the best fertilizer for your grass, it’s important to know the difference between chemical and organic fertilizers. While synthetic fertilizers often produce quick results, much of the fertilizer doesn’t absorb into the soil and instead gets washed away by rainfall.
This can negatively impact water quality and local habitats, and the chemicals contained in this type of grass fertilizer can contribute to mineral depletion in your soil, waterway pollution, and air pollution.
Alternately, the best organic fertilizers for grass get their nutrients from natural sources, like compost, manure, bone meal, and even seaweed. While it can take slightly longer to see results from them in your backyard, organic fertilizers release their nutrients slowly, allowing them to absorb deep into the soil and reach your grass’s roots. This produces longer-lasting results and doesn’t pose the same environmental threats as chemical fertilizers.
Start With A Soil Test
The first step in going the organic route with an existing lawn is beefing up weakened soil, which means starting with a soil test. That way you’ll know which nutrients are lacking and which organic amendments you’ll need to incorporate. For example, soil with a calcium deficiency can be top-dressed with gypsum and soil low in magnesium might need a healthy dose of the mineral langbeinite.
You will need to dig up samples from several different areas of your lawn , and mail them off to a lab to be analyzed. Call local nurseries and university extension offices to see if they offer soil tests .
Once you know which amendments you need, you should prepare the lawn by mowing the grass down to about 2 inches, pulling up weeds, removing thatch , and aerating . This will enable your soil to fully absorb any amendments you add.
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Use this fertilizer calculator to determine the amount of a granular fertilizer product that is needed to spread on your lawn according to recommended rates.
Lawn Fertilization: Too Little Vs Too Much
When using fertilizers, its important to use the correct amount. Using below the required amount may cause your turfgrass to grow more slowly and unevenly. It will also be more vulnerable to pests and disease. Moreover, under-fertilizing can cause moss to grow in shady and moist areas and for crabgrass and other weeds to overtake your lawn.
Meanwhile, overfertilizing lawns can result in grass with browning at the tips, limp roots, and, in severe cases, scored blades of grass. Unfortunately, if the grass on your lawn dies, it will create bare patches that need to be reseeded.
Additionally, using too much fertilizer can harm the environment. For instance, many places across the U.S. have banned or restricted the use or sale of fertilizers containing phosphorus. This is because when theyre applied before it rains or if too much of it is applied, the excess can wash off and pollute waterways.
Phosphorus runoff can cause fish kills and the growth of harmful algae in rivers, lakes, streams, and other bodies of water. For this reason, its best to check the weather forecast to figure out when to fertilize your lawn.
To prevent under or over-fertilizing your lawn, get a soil test. This way, youll know more about the amount and type of nutrients the soil and the grass species on your lawn require.
Experts recommend getting a soil test every three to five years. In between tests, you can use DIY soil test kits to monitor the fertilizer level of your lawn.
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Best For Spring: Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food
Greens up and thickens lawns quickly
Works on all grass types
Available fertilizers are sold
High nitrogen rate
Getting your lawn healthy from the start is a great way to prevent problems down the road. Containing a whopping 32 percent nitrogen, this is a great product to use at the beginning of the spring grass growing season. We also appreciated that it is low in phosphorus, which, when overused, can add to algal blooms in nearby waterways through runoff.
The bag is easy to read, with instructions on how to calibrate your spreader, and the exact amounts needed to take the guesswork out of applying. One bag covers about 5,000 square feet . Though rare in most soils, if you have a phosphorous deficiency, this fertilizer is not effective.
The Scotts brand is perhaps the most recognizable in lawn care as a result, you can find this product just about anywhere, and often on sale, making it a great budget buy for basic lawn care needs.
Price at time of publish: $18
NPK Ratio: 32-0-4Type: Slow ReleaseFeed Duration: 6 weeksApplication Type: Granular
Ive Decided And Im Going Organic
So, youve decided to go with the organic option. Figuring out which brand is the best comes down to a lot of different factors.
The ingredients that go into organic lawn fertilizer are almost as varied as the brands offering it. Make sure you pay attention to what is in the organic fertilizer you choose rather than purchasing on brand reputation.
In addition, pay attention to the one-size-fits-all organic fertilizers out there. They can help your yard, but it is better to choose one that has higher nitrogen levels. Or, depending on how scrawny your yard is, look for one with extra phosphorus added to it.
More than anything, you want to make sure that the fertilizer works for your lawn type and state specifically. If you do, your yard should be Instagram-ready in no time.
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Should You Mow Before A Fall Lawn Treatment
Yes, you should. If the grass is too tall, youll want to mow and rake before adding any fertilizer. This makes it easier for the nutrients to work their way into the soil.
If youve got a lot of leaves, I like to mulch the leaves, and then run over the lawn with my bagger to vacuum up the shredded leaves and give the fertilizer a clear path to the soil. The leaves are then added to my compost pile.
What about mowing after a fertilizer application? Ideally, you should wait until the fertilizer is watered in to mow. More specifically, wait at least 24 to 48 hours to mow after treatment.
And if you mowed before fertilizing you can probably wait longer than that.
Overall Best Fertilizer For Grass Miracle
Miracle-Gro water-soluble lawn food is an irresistible synthetic fertilizer used to make your grass greener. Though we prefer organic fertilizers most, it seems to be the best fertilizer option for grass in 2022. As it is a quick-release fertilizer, this one works immediately after application.
You will get a 5 pound container to feed approximately 4000 sq. ft. As it is a water-soluble fertilizer, it quickly gets absorbed by the grassroots. So, you will see significant results in the growth of roots, stems, and leaves.
The Miracle-Gro lawn food has an NPK ratio of 24-8-16. The main element of this fertilizer is nitrogen-rich urea. Moreover, it comprises adequate amounts of urea, potassium chloride, sodium molybdate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, chlorine, boric acid, manganese EDTA, and ferric sodium EDTA.
Gardeners use this product to get lush and green lawns quickly. You can apply this fertilizer easily, and it is inexpensive as well.
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What To Look For In An Organic Lawn Fertilizer
What sort of results you want from a lawn fertilizer will help you decide which features are most important to you. Some factors to consider include the following.
Check the formula of organic fertilizer to see what its primary ingredients are. If you are concerned about the smell of organic fertilizer, then you should stay away from lawn feeds that are made from animal derivatives, manure, or fish products. The worst smelling fertilizers usually contain chicken manure or blood meal, but if you are not bothered by this temporary odor, then these make excellent fertilizers. You should also check the ingredients list if you are averse to using products containing animal products based on ethical grounds, for example, if you are a vegan. There are plenty of organic fertilizers available that use natural materials not derived from animals.
Consider which method of application is most appropriate for you and choose a fertilizer that can be applied in this way. Some lawn food can be applied by hand or in a handheld sprayer, whereas some could be hooked up to a trailer sprayer for especially large lawns.
The Rise Of Synthetics
Following WWII, synthetic fertilizers created from natural gas surged into agricultural use. They increased crop yields and fed billions. Their use expanded to home lawn and garden care. With manufacturer encouragement, conventional lawn care in the United States became a series of cyclical chemical applications.
But that has created problems. Nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from fertilizers, particularly in their fast-release form, have caused such environmental damage that 25 states have limited fertilizer use. And on an individual lawn level, synthetic fertilizers work against natural soil health.
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When To Fertilize Lawn With Controlled Slow And Quick Release Formulations
Lawn fertilizers can be categorized into three main types: controlled release, slow-release, and quick release. As their names suggest, controlled-release fertilizers and slow-release fertilizers supply nutrients to the soil gradually. However, CRFs utilize technology to ensure a more controlled release than SRFs. Both are typically made in the form of pellets that you spread over your lawn, but liquid versions are also available.
Meanwhile, quick-release fertilizers deliver nutrients to the soil the moment they are applied. They are water-soluble and come as either a concentrate that needs to be diluted or a liquid that you can transfer directly to your sprayer for immediate use.
- When to Fertilize Lawn With SRFs and GRFs
SRFs and GRFs are ideal for fertilizing well-established lawns. Once applied, they deliver nutrients for up to 12 weeks.
- When to Fertilize Lawn With QRFs
QRFs are best for newly planted lawns, as this is the stage when its critical for turfgrass to get sufficient nutrients in a short span of time. This type of fertilizer supplies nutrients immediately and for up to four weeks after application. Its also ideal when your lawn needs a boost after recovering from a plant disease or when you need to improve its appearance quickly for a special occasion.
Some fertilizers on the market are a combination of SRFs and QRFs. These provide instant nourishment to the soil while ensuring a steady supply of nutrients for up to three months.
What Is The Best Organic Lawn Feed
Sundays proprietary lawn care blends are the best organic lawn fertilizers on the market today. The company customizes its lawn care treatments by tuning the fertilizer blends to meet your lawns needs based on information they extract from a complimentary soil analysis. This means that you not only get high-quality organic lawn care products shipped to your door but you get products that are fine-tuned to your grass type and climate.
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Organic Lawns Require Less Water Than Chemically Treated Ones
When it comes to conserving water, the good news is that organically-cared-for lawns require less water than chemically treated ones, since the latter needs lots of moisture just to digest all the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides fed to them.
As with any lawn, the key is to water infrequently and deeply, encouraging turf to send down deep roots and making it less susceptible to drought and disease.
The best time to water is early morning, since it gives your lawn plenty of time to absorb it and dry off in the sun. Most lawns require about 1 to 2 inches of water per week in summer. Use a rain gauge to measure how much water your lawn’s getting and make sure your sprinkler water isn’t being wasted on your driveway or street.
With a little patience and a slight change in thinking, you’ll be rewarded with a handsome lawn that’s easier on the earth-and on your conscience. “The best thing is that I now have total peace of mind about my yard,” says Libby Scancarello. “I want to put a little sign out front that says ‘Chemical-free,’ so my neighbors can see for themselves just how nice an organic lawn can be.”
Harmfulness Of Over Fertilizing With Chemicals
One of the biggest risks with chemical fertilizers is the chance of over-fertilization which can often kill plants and grass. These fertilizers are made to help plants grow in the short run, but do not help them in the long run. They often do not give the soil the right minerals or elements in order for it to sustain its nutrients, which eventually harms the plants. In addition, the repetitive spreading of fertilizer over time causes build up of harmful chemicals like arsenic, uranium, and cadmium. Continuous spreading also hurts the pH levels in the soil causing issues like pests, releases of greenhouse gases, and harm to plants.
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Use Organic Lawn Fertilizers
Organic lawn fertilizers are another effective way to give your lawn an occasional boost during the growing season. Available at most garden centers, the best organic lawn fertilizers contain natural ingredients such as seaweed for potassium, bone meal for phosphorous, and feather meal for nitrogen.
Unlike conventional fertilizers, which deliver a heavy, instant dose of synthetic nitrogen for your lawn to binge on, Turkey says organics provide an easier-to-handle diet of nutrients that are released more slowly.
The thicker your grass, the more easily it can crowd out weeds. So once your soil’s been treated, overseed the lawn using an appropriate turf grass . Choose a seed mix that suits your climate, sun/shade conditions, and moisture needs, and make sure it blends well with your existing lawn. Water daily until new growth is established.
The 5+ Best Organic Fertilizers For Lawns
When many people think of fertilizer, the synthetic fertilizer type is the only type that comes to mind. You know, the chemical fertilizers packed with potentially harsh chemicals facilitate green grass, but possibly at the expense of the environment.
The good news is that you have options beyond this synthetic conventional lawn fertilizer when it comes to treating your lawn grass and organic lawn fertilizer, including Milorganite Alternatives, just so happens to be one of them.
The organic lawn fertilizer product category has really exploded over the past few years as home and property owners have become more serious about environmentally friendly lawn care. In this post, well take a closer look at everything you need to know about organic lawn fertilizer from liquid fertilizer to chemical fertilizer to help you get a lush lawn. Well also cover the best organic lawn fertilizer and what to look for as you plan out your organic lawn care program.
Heres our list of best fertilizers and lawn food for organic lawn care:
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Which Organic Fertilizer Is The Best
There are many different organic fertilizers available on the market today. Some of the better known brands include: Eco-Naturals, Apple Tree Farms, and Mother Earth Naturals. To ensure that you are using the best organic fertilizer for your needs, it is important to carefully research each one before making a purchase.
Organic Fertilizers Improve The Quality Of Your Soil
Your soil contains millions of microorganisms. These natural microbes like insects, fungus, bacteria, etc. get their energy from eating decaying plant and animal matter. In nature, these organism obtains nutrients frequently, when animals desecrate or materials decompose. However, this rarely happens on your clean lawn.
Organic matter in natural fertilizer feeds these hungry microorganisms, who in turn help to build a strong soil structure. As if that wasnt reason enough to go organic, the use of chemical fertilizers can actually kill these microorganisms. Plus, conventional fertilizers rarely get absorbed into your soil, instead of absorbing into the grass blades. Again, its not really treating the root of the problem pun fully intended!
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What Are The Disadvantages Of Organic Fertilizer
Organic fertilizer is often seen as a more environmentally friendly option than traditional fertilizers, but there are some disadvantages to using this type of fertilizer. One disadvantage is that organic fertilizers are not as effective at growing plants as traditional types of fertilizer. Another disadvantage is that they may not be as effective at keeping plants healthy, especially in cold climates.