Even rich soil that’s suitable for turfgrass needs to be fertilized periodically to replenish nutrients absorbed by plants and help lawns to withstand the stress of mowing, foot traffic and seasonal changes. While options for chemical amendments are plentiful, more and more homeowners are looking to organic fertilizer products that aren’t just safer for the environment, they can improve the health of the soil itself for better long-term results.
What’s the Difference Between Organic and Chemical Fertilizers?
Organic amendments are minimally processed and made from nutrient-dense plant and animal products like peat, fish emulsion, poultry manure and cottonseed meal. Meanwhile, synthetic fertilizers are usually factory-made and derived from petroleum and natural gas byproducts that are highly processed so they can be absorbed by plants quickly.
Feeding the Plant Vs. Feeding the Soil
Chemical amendments deliver a concentrated dose of nutrients all at once. These water-soluble nutrients are designed for immediate uptake, making it easy to chemically burn plants through overfertilization. Unused nutrients wash away easily during irrigation or periods of heavy precipitation, so synthetic fertilizers need to be reapplied frequently to keep plants fed.
On the other hand, organic fertilizer needs to be processed by microbes in the soil to release the nutrients plants need. That means that when you use an organic amendment, you’re feeding the microbes in the soil as well as the plants, resulting in healthier soil and less frequent irrigation needs. The slower release of nutrients benefits the lawn, too, allowing it to feed at its own pace and preventing the risk of chemical burn.
A Better Choice for the Environment
Using an organic fertilizer offers better long-term results for lawns and gardens, but it’s also a better choice for the environment. The EPA considers nutrient pollution, primarily from excess nitrogen and phosphorus, one of the top environmental problems in the U.S. By choosing to amend your lawn organically, you can do your part to minimize the amount of chemical fertilizer that gets washed away into streams, lakes and oceans.