Greener Lawns with Green Fertilizer

(ARA) - The trend towards a "green" lifestyle has arrived on the front lawn. Many "lawn warriors" who once relied on chemicals to create the lush, natural carpet of their dreams are now turning to greener means to achieve green lawns.

There are many reasons to use "green" fertilizers on your lawn. Foremost is their more gentle impact on the environment compared to the impact of a synthetic fertilizer. Second, when used properly, green fertilizers will give you the great lawn you expect. Here are some hints to help you decide what green fertilizer is right for your lifestyle:

* Keep in mind that green fertilizers most probably will be using organic nutrients, especially nitrogen. This nitrogen will release slower than synthetic sources.You will need to plan ahead and apply fertilizer before your lawn looses its' deep, green color. Check the fertilizer label for information regarding how fast its nutrients release.

* Green fertilizers will contain a high amount of Slowly Available or Water Insoluble nitrogen (over 50 percent of the total nitrogen). To determine how much your fertilizer has, take a look at the Guaranteed Analysis statement on the package. These kinds of nitrogen will release as plants use it. This limits the amount of nitrogen that can be leached and lost to the environment, polluting lakes, streams and groundwater.

* "Burning" of lawns is caused by over-application of fertilizer containing high amounts of salts. Green fertilizers, generally being made from organic materials, inherently contain less free salts than synthetic ones. Thus, if you accidentally double spread an area, the biggest problem you will have is an over-fertilized lawn, not burnt spots.

* Many communities are enacting legislation to restrict or ban the use of phosphorus-containing fertilizer. However, lawns do require this nutrient in order to actively grow, repair damage (from wear and tear of children and pets) and to help prevent winter kill. Certain biosolids will provide this essential nutrient while limiting any leaching into surface waters. According to Dr. George O'Connor, University of Florida, who conducts research on phosphorus release to the environment, "Chemical fertilizers designed to be water-soluble and provide instant plant nutrition are a greater environmental hazard than conventionally produced or thermally dried biosolids." These biosolids include Milorganite 6-2-0.

* You can give your lawn a deep green color by adding large amounts of nitrogen. However, this creates the risk of nitrogen leaching into groundwater or causing excessive growth, mowing, and clippings. A better way to green your lawn is by adding fertilizer containing high amounts of iron. This iron moves into the plant leaves, imparting a deep green color without causing excessive growth.

* Many sources of iron exist. However, most of them are either unavailable to plants (oxides) or stain concrete walks and drives (sulfates). Organically complexed and chelated iron sources are readily available to plants and do not stain. Chelated sources tend to be expensive, especially when compared to organically complexed sources such as found in Milorganite 6-2-0 with 4 percent iron.

* Green fertilizers should help conserve natural resources, including water. Plants use high amounts of water when they are pushed to grow fast. Use green fertilizers containing high amounts of slow release or water insoluble nitrogen. This encourages plants to grow at a natural rate which requires less water.

* Choose lawn varieties that are water efficient. For northern and mid-US lawns, choose seed mixes containing high amounts of fescue.

Green fertilizer will perform as well as synthetic fertilizer, with less impact on the environment. For an example of a green fertilizer, visit

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