Natural, Organic Lawn Fertilizer

What's Difference Between Chemical and Organic Fertilizer

A fertilizer is a compound usually rich in essential elements that is worked into the soil to increase its ability to support plant life. Fertilizer can be natural or synthetic.  Synthetic fertilizer is a mix of synthetic chemicals, but can have some organic materials in the mixture.  Organic fertilizers are made from different organic materials, like vegetation and animal manure that have decayed and rotted.  Natural minerals like limestone and saltpeter may also added to organic fertilizers. Some plants like seaweed and peat moss can be to fertilizers without fermentation or decay.

US Federal Regulations require products that are sold as fertilizers to list the percentages of certain nutrients as 3 numbers printed on the front of the package.  Nitrogen (N) is the first number, Phosphorus (P) is the middle number, and Potassium (K) is the third number.  Chemical fertilizers have higher levels of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium than organic fertilizers.  Chemical fertilizers have numbers like 30-10-20 and natural lawn fertilizers have numbers like 3-1-2. 

Many consumers when comparing chemical fertilizers with organic fertilizers might assume that the higher percentages of nutrients are preferable, however chemical and organic fertilizers work differently.  Excessive nutrients can be detrimental to grass and other plants causing disease and increasing the insect populations. Some of the chemicals from commercial fertilizers never make it to the plants; instead they end up in the ground, water and the air. Not all of the synthetic compounds are broken down, and small amounts can be consumed when we eat our produce.  Over a lifetime these chemicals can build up in our bodies. Organic fertilizers however, eventually become part of the soil.  Over time less natural fertilizer is needed, unlike chemical fertilizers which must be added year after year.

Chemical fertilizers tend to show results faster than natural fertilizers.  Organic fertilizers act as food for the ground.  They break down slowly but continually improve the soil and show results over time. Artificial compounds will build up and will in time reduce the productivity of the soil.

Organic fertilizers are available online and at most gardening centers.  Look for Organic Fertilizers not Organic ‘Based’ Fertilizers.  If the numbers on the bag are high and the contents include non-organic materials it might be a chemical fertilizer masquerading as Organic. 

You can also save money and make your own organic lawn fertilizer. The processed materials from your compost can be mixed with the soil before seeding and spread across the lawn to promote further growth.  There are also several recipes for lawn fertilizers available online.  Ask your garden professional which mixture will work best for your landscape or lawn. Remember different types of turf will benefit from different mixes, so ask local gardening experts for their advice. 

One last note: there are several new brands of biodegradable diapers on the market, but composted diapers should not be used in soil that might be used for any plants that may be consumed, this includes vegetables, fruit bearing trees, medicinal plants and herbs.



The Best Way to Fertilize Your Lawn. Retrieved May 15, 2010. The Daily Green:

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