Topics: Lawn care, pests, Fertilization

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Synthetic Fertilizer vs. Organic Fertilizer

Posted by Dave Schwarm on Jan 31, 2019 8:55:57 AM
Dave Schwarm

What type of fertilizer is right for my lawn?

Plants need many nutrients to survive and thrive. How do they get the nutrients they need? Most are naturally occurring.  If your lawn has yellowing or slow growth,  it might be time to step in with fertilizer. The best way to determine what your soil needs is by performing a soil test. 

Both Synthetic and organic fertilizers provide your lawn with the needed nutrients. Much debate has been had on this subject and it really just boils down to this; at the most basic level, nutrients are nutrients. 

Below, we will go over some major differences between organic and synthetic fertilizers in terms of nutrient availability and the long & short-term effects that each has on your soil and plants. 


Here’s what I have experienced in  my 29 years in the lawn care industry:

pros and cons fert chart


Synthetic Fertilizers:

Synthetic Fertilizers are "man made" compounds that tend to be composed of varying combinations of phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen.  Three benefits of synthetic fertilizer are:

  1. Synthetic fertilizers can be faster acting than organic fertilizers. 
  2. Synthetic fertilizers can be more beneficial in aiding severely distressed plants. 
  3. Nutrient ratios can be fine-tuned to your plants' needs. 

Organically Enhanced:

This category serves as a middle-ground between synthetic and organic fertilizers. These programs can include adding bio-stimulants, humeric acid, or bio-root enhancers to your synthetic program. Three benefits of organically enhanced programs are:

  1. Nutrient ratios can be more fine-tuned than they can be if only using fully organic products. 
  2. Organically enhanced fertilizer programs can work in cool soil. 
  3. They perform well in providing a quick "green-up". 

Organic Fertilizers:

Organic fertilizers are simply minimally processed nutrients typically composed of animal and plant waste.  Three benefits of organic fertilizers are:

  1. These are slow release so it is very difficult to harm plants by over-fertilizing. 
  2. The use of manure, compost, or grass clippings *(don't throw these away!) can make this a sustainable option. 
  3. Organic fertilizers can provide your turf with organic microorganisms beneficial in fighting diseases. 

    *When left on your lawn, grass clippings can filter down to your soil and decompose rapidly - usually in a few weeks. During the breakdown process, the clippings feed soil organisms, recycle plant nutrients, and contribute organic matter to the soil. They can account for up to one pound of nitrogen per year which is equivalent to one “Free” application of fertilizer.

How do you choose?

There is no right answer here. It comes down to what you want to accomplish, why you want it done and how much are you willing to pay to achieve the desired results. What I can tell you is if you are concerned with the environmental impact and the safety of your family, which most of us are, there are a few questions I would ask a service provider before hiring them:

  • How much experience does the person coming to treat my lawn have and what type of training has he had?
  • Do you practice IPM (Integrated Pest Management) to minimize the use of pesticides when possible?
  • Can you call or text me prior to services so that I can plan to keep my family off the lawn for the designated time before re-entry?
  • Do you blow off granules from all areas other than my lawn when you’re done?


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Since 2007, Green Meadow Lawn Care has provided homeowners throughout the greater Tolland, Connecticut area with premium fertilization programs, tick control, mosquito management, seeding & aeration and tree & shrub care. 

Visit our Learning Center to find out more about how our services can help you or visit our Youtube Channel to view more in our Learning Center Series.

To speak to our Customer Service Manager, please call Dave (view Dave's video bio here) with any questions. Dave has been in the industry for 30 years and is always happy to help with his expert advice.  


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