Choosing a fertilizer can be overwhelming! There are several factors to consider, but first, it’s important to know that you should never spend money on any fertilizer or soil amendment for your lawn or without first conducting soil test. The results of these tests will tell you exactly how much N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus) or K (potassium), lime or other nutrients to add. Too much nitrogen and phosphorus can harm oceans, lakes, rivers and drinking water. Other excess nutrients can weaken and even kill grass and other plants.
Did you know? 40-60% of nitrogen from fertilizer runs off or leaches away, ending up in ground or surface water, including wells.
Problems with conventional lawn care:
• Potentially harmful to kids and pets
• Can leach into nearby groundwater
• Can kill earthworms and beneficial microbes
• Short-lived nutrition
• High burn potential
Another problem? Fast-acting, synthetic fertilizers are made using valuable fossil fuels, such as natural gas and coal.
So having all of these facts in mind, how do you choose? There are several safe alternative methods to using chemical fertilizers, which will be outlined in this blog post. When you use an organic fertilizer, the nutrients are released more slowly and actually feed the plant as it needs it. You will get much more uniform grass growth as well as a much healthier lawn.
The Benefits of Using Organic Fertilizer:
• Kid, pet and environmentally friendly
• Won’t burn lawns or leach out soil
• Provides long-lasting nutrition
• Creates healthy lawns and soil
• Requires less frequent lawn mowing
Types of Organic Fertilizers
Composting is the process of converting kitchen and yard waste into valuable fertilizer. Compost is safe for your lawn and naturally provides the nutrients your lawn and garden need to grow and stay healthy. Compost is the single most important supplement you can give your garden. If you’re not sure whether your compost is providing the proper nutrients or not, you can test it.
Grass-cycling is easy to do and provides nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, water) equivalent to one application of fertilizer. Clippings do not cause thatch. Mulching mowers are also available which help the clippings hide in the grass. For effective grass cycling, wait until the lawn is 3″ tall, and then set the mower height to remove 1″. The clippings left on the lawn will quickly disappear from view.
Important: If you do decide to go with a chemical fertilizer, use a fertilizer with time-released, water insoluble nitrogen.
These fertilizers are less likely to burn your lawn with excess nitrogen, and slow-release allows the roots to absorb the nutrients as needed. If you can, choose fertilizers containing at least 35% – 50% of their nitrogen supply in the “slow-release” form, such as sulfur-coated urea, methylene urea or various natural organic products.