Bat guano, liquid kelp, homemade compost, and chicken manure – what do these four things have in common? If you don’t already know, this guide to organic lawn fertilizer should help you learn. 

 

All of the ingredients listed above are things that are prized by organic gardeners the world over. There are all types of organic lawn fertilizers that will help your grass grow green and healthy without all the risks and potential side effects of synthetic lawn fertilizer.

 

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about organic lawn fertilizer – and how you can use it to your advantage on your existing lawn and garden or when you are caring for existing or new sections of sod. 

 

What is Organic Lawn Fertilizer?

 

Organic lawn fertilizer sounds like a complicated science fiction term, but really, it’s just fertilizer that will allow you to manage your lawn and provide it with the nutrients it needs without applying chemicals. Organic lawn foods feed soil life, including beneficial microbes and bacteria, without depleting them, as is the case with synthetic fertilizers. They can also help your lawn survive mowing and other “traumas” with ease. 

 

According to the Organic Lawn Care Manual by Paul Tukey, “the word organic describes any compound from any natural or laboratory source that contains a carbon molecule.” However, for the sake of organic gardening, “products and soil amendments within the system must be derived for plants, animals or minerals; actions should be considered for their impact on soil, water, and air quality and on the health of the earth.”

 

How Does Organic Fertilizer Compare to Non-Organic?

 

If you’re curious about how organic fertilizer stacks up, either because you’re new to the world of fertilizers or you’ve been using synthetic fertilizers your whole life and are ready to make the switch, consider these benefits and disadvantages of each – and of using fertilizer in general. 

 

Benefits of Lawn Fertilizer

 

Although some lawns might have that magical ratio of nutrients they need to grow lush and healthy, in most situations, that’s not the case. Regular feedings are the best way to care for your lawn. 

 

When lawns are fertilized with the nutrients they need most (primarily nitrogen, but also phosphorus and potassium), they can grow strong, healthy plant roots and blades. Fertilizing just once won’t cut it either, as lawns will leech nutrients over time. 

 

A fertilized lawn will exhibit improved overall growth and more resistance to pests, diseases, and weeds. Fertilizing can also prevent soil erosion, as it encourages the growth of thick turf that is less likely to cause soils to become depleted during heavy rain and wind. 

 

organic fertilizer infographic

 

Advantages of Synthetic Lawn Fertilizer 

 

If you’ve ever used a synthetic lawn fertilizer (Miracle Gro is an example!) you’re probably already familiar with its benefits. They are usually quick-acting, working to provide nutrients in as little as 24 hours. These fertilizers are homogeneous in their composition and break down in a consistent, predictable, and uniform way. 

 

They’re also readily available. You can pop out to your local lawn and garden store and find whatever nutrients you  need for your lawn, right there on the shelf.

 

Disadvantages of Synthetic Lawn Fertilizer 

 

Of course, there are several drawbacks to using synthetic lawn fertilizer that you need to know about.

 

One is that overusing synthetic fertilizers, which tend to be heavy in nitrogen salts, can lead to a condition known as fertilizer burn. This is especially true with fertilizers that consist of quick-release, water-soluble formulations. Fertilizer burn can cause your turf to turn brown or yellow and can ultimately kill your plants, particularly if you apply fertilizer during hot weather or do not water it in. 

 

Chemical-based fertilizers can also kill the beneficial soil microorganisms that live in your soil. These beneficial soil microbes work hard to break nutrients down to make them more accessible to your plants, meaning overuse of synthetic fertilizers can have the opposite effect of what you desire. 

 

Finally, synthetic fertilizers are well-documented in the harm they do to bodies of water. They can cause an excess growth of algae and even kill fish.

 

Advantages of Organic Lawn Fertilizer 

 

More gardeners and homeowners are looking to organic lawn fertilizer as they seek to add nutrients to their lawn in a safer, affordable way. Organic lawn fertilizers are organic matter that contributes to healthy soil. 

 

When these fertilizers are added to the soil, the matter stays in the soil and breaks down slowly. This means that organic lawn fertilizers can improve your soil quality as well as add nutrients, something that synthetic fertilizers simply can’t do. They can encourage the presence of helpful microbes rather than kill them. 

 

In a healthy lawn, insect control isn’t usually an issue, but using an organic fertilizer is a better option in this case, too. While organic fertilizers can sometimes be more expensive than synthetic ones, they need to be applied less often – as do pesticides – so you’ll ultimately save more money in the long run. 

 

Disadvantages of Organic Lawn Fertilizer  

 

As with anything, there are a few disadvantages to using organic lawn fertilizer, too.

 

The biggest one is that organic fertilizers tend to be bulkier than chemical fertilizers. What does this mean? Not only do the products break down at various times and are slower to decompose, but they also require a higher application rate (you’ll have to apply more pounds of product to deliver the same amount of nutrients). 

 

Finally, while there are plenty of stink-free options out there, some organic fertilizers – like manure – quite frankly, smell! 

 

Is Organic Fertilizer Safe For Pets?

 

Although organic fertilizers are usually derived from more natural plant and animal byproducts, it’s important to note that some organic fertilizers are still not safe for pets and can cause harm. 

 

Make sure you are careful about reading labels and apply your fertilizer in areas where your pets can’t access them – yes, even if you’re using an organic fertilizer! You can read more about fertilizers and other lawn care products and their risks for pets here.

 

Choosing the Best Organic Lawn Fertilizer for Your Lawn

 

Choosing the best organic lawn fertilizer for your lawn will likely come down to first figuring out what kinds of nutrients your soil needs. While most organic lawn fertilizers offer balanced ratios of NPK, something we’ll discuss in more detail below, some offer more of one nutrient than another.

 

Knowing exactly what nutrients your lawn needs is the first step in selecting the right organic fertilizer. Conduct a soil test by taking a soil sample and sending it off to your local cooperative extension. You can also purchase an at-home soil test kit. Regardless of the option you choose, conducting a soil test will help you determine the pH of your lawn as well as whether you need an amendment to help improve the soil’s structure and nutrient content.

 

You will also need to consider the type of grass you are growing. According to The Lawn Bible by David R. Mellor, “Out of the over 10,000 species of grass, only about 50 species can produce a lawn,” – and of those 50 species, each has its own unique nutrient needs. 

 

What is NPK?

 

npk infographic

 

Do any amount of research on organic or synthetic fertilizer, and NPK is a term you will likely see again and again. 

 

This acronym refers to the three macronutrients that are necessary for plant growth. N, or nitrogen, helps support leafy green growth. Phosphorus, or P, provides for a strong root system, while potassium, or K, helps to keep plant growth healthy and balanced, supporting their overall growth. 

 

When found on a fertilizer bag, you’ll see these three nutrients listed in that order – NPK. There will usually be a percentage listed per pound as well, with many labels helping you calculate the amount of NPK per 1000 square feet.

 

Of course, one of the major benefits of using organic fertilizer is that it provides other micronutrients in addition to the macronutrients listed above. An organic fertilizer might provide all the NPK you need along with things like calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. 

Application Type

 

When you are looking for an organic lawn fertilizer, you’ll usually see two types of fertilizers: dry and liquid. Here are the differences so you know which one is right for you. 

 

Dry Fertilizer 

A dry fertilizer is one that is incorporated into a granular form. It’s cheaper to buy in bulk and easy to store for long periods of time, since it doesn’t settle out or salt out in cold weather. It’s best for when you need to apply fertilizer pre-planting and there are lots of slow-release options available. 

 

Liquid Fertilizer 

Liquid fertilizer, as you might expect, is bottled and stored in a liquid form. It is easier to apply, blend, and handle, and can be applied more evenly than dry fertilizer (a bonus if you need to apply fertilizer to a large area). You can use it both before planting as well as during the season. 

 

Types of Organic Fertilizers

 

Not all organic fertilizers are made alike! Here are some of the most common organic fertilizers you might see for sale. 

 

Animal-Based Fertilizer 

Chances are, if you’ve heard of organic lawn fertilizer or considered using it on your lawn, you’ve likely thought of animal-based fertilizers. These are typically good for the soil, helping to decrease water stress and improve the soil’s water retention and drainage and its nutrient-holding capacity. Here are some of the most common options.

 

  • Fish emulsion: Fish emulsion (or fish poop, for the less sophisticated crowd!) is a good option when nitrogen is in high demand. It has an NPK ratio of 12-0-0.  
  • Blood meal: You guessed it – blood meal is blood, plain and simple. Also high in nitrogen, it has an NPK ratio of 10-1-0. Feather meal is another high-nitrogen option.
  • Animal manure: Animal manure varies in its NPK since you can use manure from several types of animals, including chicken, cow, rabbit, and sheep (experts advise against using manure from cats, dogs, and pigs, as they can harbor dangerous diseases). Composted chicken manure (as well as many other types of poultry manure) contains an NPK of 0.5-0.3-0.5 while composted cow manure comes in almost exactly the same. 
  • Fish meal: Fish meal, made up of ground-up fish parts like bone meal, is another good option for fertilizing your lawn in a more natural way. It has an NPK of 5-2-2. 
  • Shellfish: Last but not least is shellfish fertilizer. It has a high NPK of 3-3-1. 

 

Plant-Based Fertilizer

There are several kinds of plant-based fertilizers you can use on your lawn as well. They offer many of the same benefits of animal-based fertilizer.  Some to consider include:

 

  • Alfalfa and soybean meal: You can usually find this kind of fertilizer both in a pelletized and ground format. Alfalfa pellets have an NPK of 5-1-2 while soybean meal contains more nitrogen with a ratio of 7-1-3.
  • Compost: Compost is the organic gardener’s favorite tool, since you can make it for free and with very little effort at home. The NPK can vary depending on which ingredients you choose to include in your compost but it’s generally considered to be a very balanced source of organic fertilizer for your lawn.
  • Cottonseed meal: Cottonseed meal has an NPK of 3-1-1 on average.
  • Molasses: Molasses is one of the more expensive organic lawn fertilizer options you might consider. However, it has an NPK ratio of 0.7-0-5.32.
  • Legume cover crops: The NPK of legume cover crops varies depending on what kind of plant you decide to sow. However, they tend to be high in nitrogen and have the added benefit of improving soil structure (particularly for heavy clay), since you’ll tell them when you’re ready to plant. An example of a legume cover crop is winter peas.
  • Green manure cover crops: As with legume cover crops, the NPK of these fertilizers will vary depending on the plant you decide to grow. Some examples include annual ryegrass, rapeseed, and buckwheat.
  • Kelp seaweed: Kelp seaweed is another plant-based dose of fertilizing goodness you can consider. It has an NPK of 2-1-3. 

 

Of course, this list is not exclusive. Some other organic lawn food that people use include natural ingredients like grass clippings, shredded leaves, and bark.

 

Mineral-Based Fertilizer

If you know that your garden is deficient in a certain mineral or micronutrient, like calcium or magnesium, you might want to consider using a mineral-based fertilizer instead. This will provide a more direct source of nutrients.

 

  • Calcium: Calcium can be applied in its whole form, with options including things like calcium nitrate. This can help with cell formation. 
  • Epsom salt: Epsom salts can help provide things like magnesium, sulfur, and more to your garden. It has an NPK of 20-20-20. 
  • Greensand: Also known as glauconite, greensand is a mineral mined from the ocean floor especially to be used as fertilizer. It has an NPK of 0-1-6 and also contains trace minerals like iron and magnesium. 

 

How to Make DIY Organic Lawn Fertilizer

 

There are several DIY organic lawn fertilizers you can make. One of the most popular options requires the use of beer, soda, soap, ammonia, and mouthwash. 

 

Combine a can of soda (non-diet – the sugar is what helps microbes in the soil thrive), a can of beer, and half a cup of dish soap (make sure it’s not antibacterial). Add half a cup of ammonia and half a cup of mouthwash along with ten gallons of water. Apply to a sprayer, and apply to your lawn before or after seeding. It’s as easy as that!

 

Where to Buy Organic Lawn Fertilizer?

 

You can purchase super natural lawn fertilizer anywhere you might purchase synthetic fertilizers, including:

 

  • Lawn and garden stores
  • Mass online retailers (such as Amazon)
  • Hardware stores 
  • Department stores
  • Farm supply stores
  • Places where you might buy lawn mowers or mower equipment 

 

You can also purchase many kinds of organic lawn fertilizers (like manures) from local farmers. Many can even be made or harvested for free at home, like compost.

 

When Should You Apply Organic Fertilizer?

 

The best time to apply organic lawn fertilizer will vary depending on the type of grass you are growing. Usually, regardless of the grass type, you will need to apply fertilizer several times throughout the year and particularly during the growing season.  

 

A warm-season grass like zoysia, Bermuda, or centipede needs to be fertilized two to four times each year, ideally at the start of spring and the end of the summer as well as several times throughout the summer months.

 

Cool-season grasses, on the other hand (these include species like fescue and ryegrass) only need to be fertilized right after the lawn comes back after being dormant over the winter as well as at the beginning of the fall. Unlike warm-season grass, cold season grass should not be fertilized during the summer.

 

For all kinds of fertilizer and grass types, do so first thing in the morning or at the end of the day, in the evening. This will prevent your grass from burning in the hot summer sun. 

 

How to Apply Organic Lawn Fertilizer

 

Application instructions for organic lawn fertilizer will vary depending on what kind of fertilizer you are using and whether it is granular or liquid. 

 

With a liquid fertilizer, you will often need to combine it with water and put it in a backpack or hand pump sprayer. You can then spray it directly onto your lawn. Some liquid fertilizers come in packages that make them attachable to a hose for easy application.

 

Granular fertilizers, on the other hand, are meant to be applied with a granular spreader. Dampen your lawn (either with a hose or natural rainfall) before applying the granules and be sure to water afterward, too. This is essential when caring for a new lawn or sod!

 

For all fertilizers, check the instructions on the package to see if they need to be mixed before they are applied to your lawn. 

Organic Lawn Fertilizer


Bat guano, liquid kelp, homemade compost, and chicken manure – what do these four things have in common? If you don’t already know, this guide to organic lawn fertilizer should help you learn. 

 

All of the ingredients listed above are things that are prized by organic gardeners the world over. There are all types of organic lawn fertilizers that will help your grass grow green and healthy without all the risks and potential side effects of synthetic lawn fertilizer.

 

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about organic lawn fertilizer – and how you can use it to your advantage on your existing lawn and garden or when you are caring for existing or new sections of sod. 

 

What is Organic Lawn Fertilizer?

 

Organic lawn fertilizer sounds like a complicated science fiction term, but really, it’s just fertilizer that will allow you to manage your lawn and provide it with the nutrients it needs without applying chemicals. Organic lawn foods feed soil life, including beneficial microbes and bacteria, without depleting them, as is the case with synthetic fertilizers. They can also help your lawn survive mowing and other “traumas” with ease. 

 

According to the Organic Lawn Care Manual by Paul Tukey, “the word organic describes any compound from any natural or laboratory source that contains a carbon molecule.” However, for the sake of organic gardening, “products and soil amendments within the system must be derived for plants, animals or minerals; actions should be considered for their impact on soil, water, and air quality and on the health of the earth.”

 

How Does Organic Fertilizer Compare to Non-Organic?

 

If you’re curious about how organic fertilizer stacks up, either because you’re new to the world of fertilizers or you’ve been using synthetic fertilizers your whole life and are ready to make the switch, consider these benefits and disadvantages of each – and of using fertilizer in general. 

 

Benefits of Lawn Fertilizer

 

Although some lawns might have that magical ratio of nutrients they need to grow lush and healthy, in most situations, that’s not the case. Regular feedings are the best way to care for your lawn. 

 

When lawns are fertilized with the nutrients they need most (primarily nitrogen, but also phosphorus and potassium), they can grow strong, healthy plant roots and blades. Fertilizing just once won’t cut it either, as lawns will leech nutrients over time. 

 

A fertilized lawn will exhibit improved overall growth and more resistance to pests, diseases, and weeds. Fertilizing can also prevent soil erosion, as it encourages the growth of thick turf that is less likely to cause soils to become depleted during heavy rain and wind. 

 

organic fertilizer infographic

 

Advantages of Synthetic Lawn Fertilizer 

 

If you’ve ever used a synthetic lawn fertilizer (Miracle Gro is an example!) you’re probably already familiar with its benefits. They are usually quick-acting, working to provide nutrients in as little as 24 hours. These fertilizers are homogeneous in their composition and break down in a consistent, predictable, and uniform way. 

 

They’re also readily available. You can pop out to your local lawn and garden store and find whatever nutrients you  need for your lawn, right there on the shelf.

 

Disadvantages of Synthetic Lawn Fertilizer 

 

Of course, there are several drawbacks to using synthetic lawn fertilizer that you need to know about.

 

One is that overusing synthetic fertilizers, which tend to be heavy in nitrogen salts, can lead to a condition known as fertilizer burn. This is especially true with fertilizers that consist of quick-release, water-soluble formulations. Fertilizer burn can cause your turf to turn brown or yellow and can ultimately kill your plants, particularly if you apply fertilizer during hot weather or do not water it in. 

 

Chemical-based fertilizers can also kill the beneficial soil microorganisms that live in your soil. These beneficial soil microbes work hard to break nutrients down to make them more accessible to your plants, meaning overuse of synthetic fertilizers can have the opposite effect of what you desire. 

 

Finally, synthetic fertilizers are well-documented in the harm they do to bodies of water. They can cause an excess growth of algae and even kill fish.

 

Advantages of Organic Lawn Fertilizer 

 

More gardeners and homeowners are looking to organic lawn fertilizer as they seek to add nutrients to their lawn in a safer, affordable way. Organic lawn fertilizers are organic matter that contributes to healthy soil. 

 

When these fertilizers are added to the soil, the matter stays in the soil and breaks down slowly. This means that organic lawn fertilizers can improve your soil quality as well as add nutrients, something that synthetic fertilizers simply can’t do. They can encourage the presence of helpful microbes rather than kill them. 

 

In a healthy lawn, insect control isn’t usually an issue, but using an organic fertilizer is a better option in this case, too. While organic fertilizers can sometimes be more expensive than synthetic ones, they need to be applied less often – as do pesticides – so you’ll ultimately save more money in the long run. 

 

Disadvantages of Organic Lawn Fertilizer  

 

As with anything, there are a few disadvantages to using organic lawn fertilizer, too.

 

The biggest one is that organic fertilizers tend to be bulkier than chemical fertilizers. What does this mean? Not only do the products break down at various times and are slower to decompose, but they also require a higher application rate (you’ll have to apply more pounds of product to deliver the same amount of nutrients). 

 

Finally, while there are plenty of stink-free options out there, some organic fertilizers – like manure – quite frankly, smell! 

 

Is Organic Fertilizer Safe For Pets?

 

Although organic fertilizers are usually derived from more natural plant and animal byproducts, it’s important to note that some organic fertilizers are still not safe for pets and can cause harm. 

 

Make sure you are careful about reading labels and apply your fertilizer in areas where your pets can’t access them – yes, even if you’re using an organic fertilizer! You can read more about fertilizers and other lawn care products and their risks for pets here.

 

Choosing the Best Organic Lawn Fertilizer for Your Lawn

 

Choosing the best organic lawn fertilizer for your lawn will likely come down to first figuring out what kinds of nutrients your soil needs. While most organic lawn fertilizers offer balanced ratios of NPK, something we’ll discuss in more detail below, some offer more of one nutrient than another.

 

Knowing exactly what nutrients your lawn needs is the first step in selecting the right organic fertilizer. Conduct a soil test by taking a soil sample and sending it off to your local cooperative extension. You can also purchase an at-home soil test kit. Regardless of the option you choose, conducting a soil test will help you determine the pH of your lawn as well as whether you need an amendment to help improve the soil’s structure and nutrient content.

 

You will also need to consider the type of grass you are growing. According to The Lawn Bible by David R. Mellor, “Out of the over 10,000 species of grass, only about 50 species can produce a lawn,” – and of those 50 species, each has its own unique nutrient needs. 

 

What is NPK?

 

npk infographic

 

Do any amount of research on organic or synthetic fertilizer, and NPK is a term you will likely see again and again. 

 

This acronym refers to the three macronutrients that are necessary for plant growth. N, or nitrogen, helps support leafy green growth. Phosphorus, or P, provides for a strong root system, while potassium, or K, helps to keep plant growth healthy and balanced, supporting their overall growth. 

 

When found on a fertilizer bag, you’ll see these three nutrients listed in that order – NPK. There will usually be a percentage listed per pound as well, with many labels helping you calculate the amount of NPK per 1000 square feet.

 

Of course, one of the major benefits of using organic fertilizer is that it provides other micronutrients in addition to the macronutrients listed above. An organic fertilizer might provide all the NPK you need along with things like calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. 

Application Type

 

When you are looking for an organic lawn fertilizer, you’ll usually see two types of fertilizers: dry and liquid. Here are the differences so you know which one is right for you. 

 

Dry Fertilizer 

A dry fertilizer is one that is incorporated into a granular form. It’s cheaper to buy in bulk and easy to store for long periods of time, since it doesn’t settle out or salt out in cold weather. It’s best for when you need to apply fertilizer pre-planting and there are lots of slow-release options available. 

 

Liquid Fertilizer 

Liquid fertilizer, as you might expect, is bottled and stored in a liquid form. It is easier to apply, blend, and handle, and can be applied more evenly than dry fertilizer (a bonus if you need to apply fertilizer to a large area). You can use it both before planting as well as during the season. 

 

Types of Organic Fertilizers

 

Not all organic fertilizers are made alike! Here are some of the most common organic fertilizers you might see for sale. 

 

Animal-Based Fertilizer 

Chances are, if you’ve heard of organic lawn fertilizer or considered using it on your lawn, you’ve likely thought of animal-based fertilizers. These are typically good for the soil, helping to decrease water stress and improve the soil’s water retention and drainage and its nutrient-holding capacity. Here are some of the most common options.

 

  • Fish emulsion: Fish emulsion (or fish poop, for the less sophisticated crowd!) is a good option when nitrogen is in high demand. It has an NPK ratio of 12-0-0.  
  • Blood meal: You guessed it – blood meal is blood, plain and simple. Also high in nitrogen, it has an NPK ratio of 10-1-0. Feather meal is another high-nitrogen option.
  • Animal manure: Animal manure varies in its NPK since you can use manure from several types of animals, including chicken, cow, rabbit, and sheep (experts advise against using manure from cats, dogs, and pigs, as they can harbor dangerous diseases). Composted chicken manure (as well as many other types of poultry manure) contains an NPK of 0.5-0.3-0.5 while composted cow manure comes in almost exactly the same. 
  • Fish meal: Fish meal, made up of ground-up fish parts like bone meal, is another good option for fertilizing your lawn in a more natural way. It has an NPK of 5-2-2. 
  • Shellfish: Last but not least is shellfish fertilizer. It has a high NPK of 3-3-1. 

 

Plant-Based Fertilizer

There are several kinds of plant-based fertilizers you can use on your lawn as well. They offer many of the same benefits of animal-based fertilizer.  Some to consider include:

 

  • Alfalfa and soybean meal: You can usually find this kind of fertilizer both in a pelletized and ground format. Alfalfa pellets have an NPK of 5-1-2 while soybean meal contains more nitrogen with a ratio of 7-1-3.
  • Compost: Compost is the organic gardener’s favorite tool, since you can make it for free and with very little effort at home. The NPK can vary depending on which ingredients you choose to include in your compost but it’s generally considered to be a very balanced source of organic fertilizer for your lawn.
  • Cottonseed meal: Cottonseed meal has an NPK of 3-1-1 on average.
  • Molasses: Molasses is one of the more expensive organic lawn fertilizer options you might consider. However, it has an NPK ratio of 0.7-0-5.32.
  • Legume cover crops: The NPK of legume cover crops varies depending on what kind of plant you decide to sow. However, they tend to be high in nitrogen and have the added benefit of improving soil structure (particularly for heavy clay), since you’ll tell them when you’re ready to plant. An example of a legume cover crop is winter peas.
  • Green manure cover crops: As with legume cover crops, the NPK of these fertilizers will vary depending on the plant you decide to grow. Some examples include annual ryegrass, rapeseed, and buckwheat.
  • Kelp seaweed: Kelp seaweed is another plant-based dose of fertilizing goodness you can consider. It has an NPK of 2-1-3. 

 

Of course, this list is not exclusive. Some other organic lawn food that people use include natural ingredients like grass clippings, shredded leaves, and bark.

 

Mineral-Based Fertilizer

If you know that your garden is deficient in a certain mineral or micronutrient, like calcium or magnesium, you might want to consider using a mineral-based fertilizer instead. This will provide a more direct source of nutrients.

 

  • Calcium: Calcium can be applied in its whole form, with options including things like calcium nitrate. This can help with cell formation. 
  • Epsom salt: Epsom salts can help provide things like magnesium, sulfur, and more to your garden. It has an NPK of 20-20-20. 
  • Greensand: Also known as glauconite, greensand is a mineral mined from the ocean floor especially to be used as fertilizer. It has an NPK of 0-1-6 and also contains trace minerals like iron and magnesium. 

 

How to Make DIY Organic Lawn Fertilizer

 

There are several DIY organic lawn fertilizers you can make. One of the most popular options requires the use of beer, soda, soap, ammonia, and mouthwash. 

 

Combine a can of soda (non-diet – the sugar is what helps microbes in the soil thrive), a can of beer, and half a cup of dish soap (make sure it’s not antibacterial). Add half a cup of ammonia and half a cup of mouthwash along with ten gallons of water. Apply to a sprayer, and apply to your lawn before or after seeding. It’s as easy as that!

 

Where to Buy Organic Lawn Fertilizer?

 

You can purchase super natural lawn fertilizer anywhere you might purchase synthetic fertilizers, including:

 

  • Lawn and garden stores
  • Mass online retailers (such as Amazon)
  • Hardware stores 
  • Department stores
  • Farm supply stores
  • Places where you might buy lawn mowers or mower equipment 

 

You can also purchase many kinds of organic lawn fertilizers (like manures) from local farmers. Many can even be made or harvested for free at home, like compost.

 

When Should You Apply Organic Fertilizer?

 

The best time to apply organic lawn fertilizer will vary depending on the type of grass you are growing. Usually, regardless of the grass type, you will need to apply fertilizer several times throughout the year and particularly during the growing season.  

 

A warm-season grass like zoysia, Bermuda, or centipede needs to be fertilized two to four times each year, ideally at the start of spring and the end of the summer as well as several times throughout the summer months.

 

Cool-season grasses, on the other hand (these include species like fescue and ryegrass) only need to be fertilized right after the lawn comes back after being dormant over the winter as well as at the beginning of the fall. Unlike warm-season grass, cold season grass should not be fertilized during the summer.

 

For all kinds of fertilizer and grass types, do so first thing in the morning or at the end of the day, in the evening. This will prevent your grass from burning in the hot summer sun. 

 

How to Apply Organic Lawn Fertilizer

 

Application instructions for organic lawn fertilizer will vary depending on what kind of fertilizer you are using and whether it is granular or liquid. 

 

With a liquid fertilizer, you will often need to combine it with water and put it in a backpack or hand pump sprayer. You can then spray it directly onto your lawn. Some liquid fertilizers come in packages that make them attachable to a hose for easy application.

 

Granular fertilizers, on the other hand, are meant to be applied with a granular spreader. Dampen your lawn (either with a hose or natural rainfall) before applying the granules and be sure to water afterward, too. This is essential when caring for a new lawn or sod!

 

For all fertilizers, check the instructions on the package to see if they need to be mixed before they are applied to your lawn. 

Watering New Sod

Watering new sod is an essential step in the process of establishing your lawn. There are a few things you should know before getting started. This article will walk you through each stage to ensure that your new sod has the best start possible!

Watering Advice and Basic Guidelines for the First Two Weeks after Sod Lawn Installation

The establishment of your new sod lawn is easy but requires the right amount of water and an optimal watering schedule.

Sod should be laid on your soil the very day it arrives. 

If temperatures are above 95° install the sod as quickly as possible and water uniformly over the entire area. 

Put down a lot of water on your first watering. The water should be 3-4 inches deep after the first irrigation. 

The first watering needs to be a lot because the ground is dry when we first apply the water. The ground needs the first heavy application of water to saturate the soil. Once the soil is saturated underneath, it then takes frequent lesser waterings to keep the soil/sod moist.

Do not allow the sod to dry out. Most issues we see in the first 14 days are due to the fresh sod not getting enough moisture to keep the sod alive! 

Water your sod uniformly with an irrigation system for the best results. Sprinklers give the most even and efficient watering compared to hand watering with a hose. 

Remember, after the first watering, the key is to keep it moist, not soaked. Too much water can cause fungus and other diseases.

Before Laying New Sod

Before laying your sod, you should have done some basic things to prepare your ground

For the installers, whether yourself or paid professional, all sprinkler heads will need to be flagged with paint, or irrigation flags, or wooden stakes. 

If your lawn area is not bordered with a mow curb or other type of physical barrier (e.g. a sidewalk), use ground paint to mark the area where you want the sod to be cut. This will give the installers a line to trim and shape the sod.

We highly recommend installing a starter fertilizer on the ground before you install the turfgrass sod. This gives the sod extra nutrients to help it develop a new root system.

Day 1 of Your New Sod

As soon as you have laid your new lawn, water it heavily! That first watering should be 30 – 80 minutes depending on the following factors:

  1. How hot it is outside
  2. Type of sprinkler system/gallons per minutes output (GPM)
  3. Soil type
  4. Wind

Also, your sprinkler uniformity will be key to giving even coverage. 

Large Amounts of Sod

If you have a large amount of sod that you will be laying all in one day, we recommend that you start watering your lawn in large sections. This way, by the end of the day, your first few rolls have not dried out.

This is especially helpful when it is really hot outside. If you have time left in the day after laying the sod you will need to water once or twice again the first day.

Day 2 and the Following Two Weeks

You will be watering your installed sod/new roots, 2-4 times per day to keep the lawn moist. Our recommended watering start times are between 7 am – 2 pm evenly spaced to start. 

The amount and frequency of watering per day will depend on your sprinklers and soil type. We are not flooding it, we just want to keep it evenly moist. It is possible to over-water the sod. This can cause root rot or fungus to occur.

After 12-13 days, shut off your water for 1-2 days. You want your soil to dry out a little so that you can walk on it. We do not want you to sink into the ground. 

Once the ground can be walked on, mow your new lawn for the first time. 

Mowing your Lawn

Always let your lawn dry out enough to walk and mow on. If possible, we recommend mowing your lawn with a mower that will bag or catch the grass clippings. 

If you don’t bag your grass clipping, you could leave a lot of grass clippings on the lawn, and when those grass clippings get wet with the once-a-day watering they can clump together and smother the grass below.

Each sod variety will have a different mowing height, so check to see what height to mow the grass blades for the type of grass you ordered. If you purchased sod from us, you can find the maintenance height on the product page of the sod you purchased.

sodlawn sod page

Initially, it may be necessary to mow twice if the grass is too high. If this is the case, mow it twice in one day.

Watering Your New Sod Lawn After The First Two Weeks

Water once a day after the first mowing for the next week.

Watering is the most effective if done during the early morning hours. 2 am to 4 am start times are great when sunlight and heat cannot cause excessive evaporation. 

After your lawn becomes established, it generally requires about 1.5 inches of water per week during the heat of the summer. Be sure to check the water needs of your sod type. 

Spring, winter, and fall will require less watering depending on weather conditions. 

Cut watering back during the winter. Sometimes your lawn will only require watering once or twice a month, depending on rainfall and evaporation. 

Water should penetrate up to 4-6 inches into the soil to ensure deep rooting. If your lawn needs water it will turn from bright green to blue or gray-green.

Week 4 of Your New Sod

After mowing the 3rd time, you may now start watering your lawn every other day or less, depending on the weather. Unless you have a really sandy soil condition, you most likely will only need to water 3-4 days per week in the summer months. 

The key to having a happy lawn, second to good ground preparation, is regular and consistent watering, mowing, and fertilizing! These three items will give your root establishment the best chance to provide a healthy and happy lawn for years to come. 

Watering and mowing are ever-changing with your local weather patterns. The above guidelines are for warmer summer months. Make routine adjustments as needed for your specific climate and time of year.

For ongoing care, you may want to consider using some technology to help you maintain your lawn’s health. Soil moisture sensors can be particularly helpful for perfecting your lawn’s watering schedule through different seasons.

You can learn more about laying and caring for your sod during different seasons here: