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It’s springtime and after a long winter of brown grass (or maybe you could not see the grass because of snow), you are ready to drop some fertilizer and kick-start your lawn. Outdoor barbeques and touch football are just around the corner!
But…what is the best fertilizer to use on your lawn? Here we will list our top picks for good, all-around fertilizers for spring application.
About fertilizers: Always apply at the rates recommended and use the volumes of water required after application. More is not better. Too much fertilizer in soil can alter the osmotic conditions around grass roots and prevent water uptake.
Related Article: Lawn Starter Fertilizer vs Regular Fertilizer
|1. Scotts Miracle-Gro 1001834 All Purpose Lawn Food
|2. Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food
|3. Safer Brand 9333 Lawn Restore
|4. Miloganite 0636 Organic Nitrogen Fertilizer
|5. Espoma ELF20 Organic All-Season Lawn Food
Scotts Miracle-Gro All Purpose Lawn Food comes in a 5 lb. box and covers 4,000 square feet of lawn. It retails for $15. The NPK ratio is 35-0-6.
Apply every 4-6 weeks when grass is growing. It can be applied to all turf grasses.
- Covers 4,000 square feet
- NPK ratio 36-0-6
- 5 lb. box
Miracle-Gro is formulated to apply either with a feeder (Miracle-Gro makes one) or as a liquid with a watering can (1T/gallon of water). This leaves the homeowner with a few options.
There are also additional instructions included for lawns that need some help: apply one gallon per 10 square feet of law every 2-3 weeks. Many users report a rapid rejuvenation of damaged lawns.
Some users report poor results. Most reports sound like nitrate burn. The rates they used or the condition of the soil cannot be verified.
Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food comes in a 12.5 lb. bag and covers 5,000 square feet of lawn. It retails for $14. The NPK ratio is 32-0-4.
It can be applied to all turf grasses every 6-8 weeks any time of year.
- Covers 5,000 square feet
- Uses All-in-One timed-release technology
- NPK ratio 32-0-4
Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food is a timed-release, granular intended for application with a spreader. It can be used in any season.
It is considered highly effective in restoring lawns following draught. The All-in-One particle formulation slows release and prevents burn.
One out of ten users report no improvement in their lawns. Some have reported grass yellowing, though nothing can be verified regarding the rates used.
Quality control issues with wet fertilizer upon receipt have also been reported.
Safer Brand Lawn Restore comes in a 25 lb. bag and covers 6,250 square feet of lawn. It retails for $29. The NPK ratio 9-0-2. It is safe for all turf grasses and can be used year-round.
Its granular slow-release formulation prevent nitrate burn and only needs to be applied every 8 weeks. Apply by spreader.
- Granular slow-release
- Covers 6,250 square feet
- Safe for kids and pets
- NPK ratio 9-0-2
Most users are happy that the product has low toxicity. The lower rates seem to never cause lawn yellowing or browning.
Some users report the fertilizer taking longer than expected to green the lawn. Some report no change in their lawns after application. Due to the organic source material, the product smells like chicken manure.
Milorganite Organic Nitrogen Fertilizer comes in a 32 lb. bag and covers 2,500 square feet of lawn.
It retails for $33. The NPK ratio is 6-4-0. It is a slow-release material, necessitating reapplication every 10 weeks.
Milorganite is heat-dried bacteria (biosolids) produced following organic digestion of material in wastewater treatment plants in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Its production represents the first government-registered recycling project, starting in 1926.
Milorganite works by adding organic matter and nitrogen to the soil, thus feeding indigenous microbes which produce byproducts that feed plants. Approximately 80% of the nitrogen in Milorganite is not water-soluble and must be released through microbial action.
It therefore acts in a slow-but-steady manner as a fertilizer and will never burn turf grasses. For this reason, it is highly favored for large turf grass areas such as golf courses. It is applied by spreader.
- Proven performance (90 years)
- Bacterially-controlled release (will never burn grass)
- Kid and pet friendly
This tried and true organic fertilizer will not burn your turf grass and is very kid and pet friendly since most of the chemical components are rather inert. Soil bacteria must access nutrients in the Milorganite and release it, so release is at the rate of the natural soil ecosystem.
This also means that leaching to waterways is of low concern as well.
It acts slowly and is dependent on several existing conditions for proper action, which include healthy soil chemistry and microbial ecosystem. Some users have reported no positive results, likely because their soil conditions were poor.
Espoma Organic All-Season Lawn Food comes in a 28 lb. bag and covers 5,000 square feet of lawn. It retails for $50.
The NPK ratio is 9-0-0, meaning is straight nitrogen, but also includes three species of Bacillus bacteria due to its organic origin (feather meal and poultry manure). It can be applied by spreader.
- Kid and pet friendly
- Covers 5,000 square feet
- NPK ratio 9-0-0
- Includes helpful bacteria (BioTone)
Users like that fact that the fertilizer only needs to be applied 3-4 times per year. It is also non-toxic, so it is safe around kids and pets.
Some reported quality issues with damp fertilizer, resulting in clumps that cannot be spread. There are also reports of nitrate burn, however, rates used cannot be verified.