July 24, 2009 -- You can keep your lawn green and happy while being environmentally conscious.
According to Eartheasy.com, the average suburban lawn receives 10 times as much chemical pesticide per acre as farmland and over 70 million tons of fertilizers and pesticides are applied to residential lawns and gardens annually.
Chemical fertilizers are synthetically produced plant nutrients from inorganic materials and many contain acids that can be harmful to the soil's population of microorganisms and can potentially stunt plant growth.
They also are can be highly concentrated and can cause water pollution even when they are applied at the recommended rates if a heavy rain or too much irrigation happen soon after the fertilizers are applied.
But there are some eco-friendly and organic choices to keep a lawn lush.
Organic fertilizers are substances that contain nutrients derived from the remains or by-product of an organism, like cottonseed meal, blood meal, fish emulsion, manure, and sewage sludge.
An important aspect of organic fertilizers is the slow release capability, so one should be careful not to over-fertilize.
SafeLawns.org, a non-profit educational organization, offers you a few tips on some organic and eco-friendly fertilizers.
When determining your need for fertilizer, it is best to do a soil test. Every state's Cooperative Extension Service will either offer the soil tests or tell you where to send the soil for testing.Also, organic and natural fertilizers can generally be applied any time of year, if a soil test indicates the fertilizer is needed.
Fertilizer high in nitrogen should not be applied in the heat of the summer because it will stress out the plants. High nitrogen products should be applied in the early spring or mid to late fall or early winter.
Milorganite Organic Fertilizer
Natural and organic fertilizers such as Milorganite release nutrients more slowly by their nature. These products are not plant foods, per se, but are soil foods. The organisms in soil need to eat, digest and excrete the organic fertilizers before the fertilizers are converted to a form that makes plants grow. The process is called "Mineralization." This extra step is what makes organic fertilizers inherently slow-release and, incidentally, less like to leach into waterways
Bradfield Organics Fertilizer
Bradford Organic Fertilizers are made from alfalfa and corn meal. The products are composed of non-synthetic, natural sources of nutrients that help build organic matter and nourish soil microbe fertility, encouraging the production of vigorous plants with deep, robust root system.
Dr. Earth Organic Fertilizers
Dr. Earth Supernatural will feed and supply organic material to the soil lasting up to two months and it's people and pet safe.
Either leave on the lawn or if you have a mower that can mulch them spread out the clippings or mulched grass on your lawn.
They recycle nutrients back into the soil in approximately 4-1-3 ration, meaning 100 pounds of grass clippings can account for about 4 pounds of Nitrogen, 1 pound of Phosphorus, and 3 pounds of potassium.
Eco-Friendly Spreading Tips
Consider drop spreader rather than spinning-type broadcast spreader…they're more accurate at keeping granules where you want them.
No fertilizer should be left on paved surfaces, because it will run into streams or water treatment plants. Sweep it off after spreading.
Check spreader settings and make sure the application rate matches those on the bag.