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Organic Lawn Fertilizing Basics

This article is intended as an introduction to organic lawn fertilization techniques and products, so that you can start taking care of your lawn in a more environmentally friendly manner. Using organic lawn fertilizers and organic lawn fertilizing techniques will ensure that you have a properly fertilized lawn that is healthy for your family, pets, and neighbors.

Organic lawn fertilizers are becoming more popular these days due to an increasing awareness that synthetic lawn fertilizers can negatively impact the environment and the health of our families, neighbors, and pets, especially if they are not used properly. Additionally, many artificial lawn fertilizers don’t really do anything to improve the long term health of the soil. In fact, many of the strong chemicals in artificial lawn fertilizers can degrade the soil and kill off beneficial soil organisms. This means that you’ll need to apply even more chemicals just to keep your grass alive.

Moreover, a recent study by Austin’s Watershed Protection and Development Review Department concluded that natural and organic lawn fertilizers are actually superior to synthetic fertilizers in terms of producing attractive, healthy lawns and for eliminating possible contaminants that can reach groundwater sources. If you’d like to read the complete study about organic lawn fertilizers, see this website.

Before You Use an Organic Lawn Fertilizer

Before you begin shopping for organic lawn fertilizers, make sure to test your soil to get a sense of nutrient levels. You’ll want to test for nitrogen, phosphorous and potash levels. An environmentally friendly soil tester will provide you with reliable information on how healthy your soil is and if it lacks organic material. Getting to know your soil with a soil test will take the guess work out of lawn care. Please see this site from the University of Missouri about interpreting soil test results.

Getting to know your soil is an important factor in knowing how to fertilize your lawn. Adding compost to your garden soil may be an important first step to get your grass to grow healthier. You can actually add compost directly onto your grass. Spread out the compost evenly over your lawn and work it in lightly with rake. You’ll want to keep the compost from being in contact with the grass blades for too long. After you’ve working in the compost, water your lawn to allow the compost to soak into the soil. Please read more about composting at the Compost Guide.

Also, try aerating your grass to get it to grow better. If you have good quality soil that is properly aerated, you may not need many organic lawn fertilizer treatments during the growing season.

About Organic Lawn fertilizers

To make sure your lawn fertilizer is environmentally friendly, check to see that it achieves the standards of the EPA and OSB (National Organic Standards Board) guidelines for environmentally friendly garden care products.

If you’re looking for pet friendly lawn fertilizers, most organic lawn fertilizers that are certified by the EPA pose no risk to your pets. You can also talk to your veterinarian or local extension agent for other recommendations.

Most organic lawn fertilizers are designed to build up the soil itself, whereas artificial fertilizers may not do much to help create healthier soil. Also, look for organic lawn fertilizers that help stimulate the presence of beneficial soil organisms. These critters that live in the soil can actually help break down some elements of the lawn fertilizer and increase their efficiency. If you have healthy soil with lots of organic material mixed and a high number of soil organisms, your grass will naturally be able to fight diseases, pathogenic nematodes, and the pests that may attack your lawn.

Most organic lawn fertilizers are also designed to be more efficiently absorbed than synthetic fertilizers. This is especially true of liquid organic lawn fertilizers. This means that excess nutrients are less likely to find their way into local water supplies and contaminate the water.

Environmentally friendly lawn fertilizers generally come in two forms, dry organic fertilizers and liquid organic fertilizers. Dry organic lawn fertilizers will typically stay on the lawn longer and therefore require fewer treatments. However, you will need some sort of spreader to distribute them over your lawn. Therefore, they are harder to use on irregularly shaped lawns. Dry organic lawn fertilizers may contain such natural ingredients as blood meal, alfalfa, corn gluten meal, and feather meal.

Liquid organic lawn fertilizers are absorbed almost instantly by your grass. This makes them useful for a quick greening of your grass. Products like HastaGro liquid organic fertilizer are intended as foliar treatments. This means that nutrients are absorbed quickly and effectively through the leaves. An added advantage of liquid fertilizers is that they slowly release nitrogen, meaning they’re very unlikely to burn your lawn.

Using Dry Organic Lawn Fertilizers

Dry organic fertilizers are useful for covering large areas. To use them, you will need some kind of spreader. Otherwise, you risk not having your dry fertilizer distributed out evenly over the lawn. Keep in mind that dry fertilizers are difficult to use on irregularly shaped lawns.

Spreaders are available in either drop or broadcast spreaders. Drop spreaders drop the fertilizer directly below the spreader. They are economical and good for smaller spaces. Broadcast spreaders actually shoot the fertilizer beyond the spreader over a large area. If you have a large lawn, you’ll probably want to use a broadcast spreader.

Using Liquid Organic Lawn Fertilizers

Liquid lawn fertilizers are generally very easy to use. You simply attach the liquid fertilizer to a common garden hose. The easy application of a liquid organic lawn fertilizer makes them ideal for fertilizing irregular spaces. Remember to read the application instruction for your liquid lawn fertilizer very carefully before you use it.

Other Organic Lawn Care Tips

In addition to organic lawn fertilizers, you can use several different natural lawn care techniques to take care of your lawn. For example:

Test your soil frequently to determine what it needs.

Keep your clippings on your lawn. This is known as “grass-cycling” and will help keep nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in the soil. A reel mower is ideal for keeping grass clippings where they should be, on your lawn. If you keep your grass clippings on your lawn, you can reduce the use of liquid organic fertilizers to about four times a growing season.

Avoid fertilizing if you’re expecting rain. The fertilizer may simply wash off and will not do your lawn any good.

For more tips on environmentally and pet friendly lawn care, check out the EPA website on green landscaping.