Lawns consume high levels of nitrogen. Organic fertilizer provides nitrogen from naturally occurring sources. Organic lawn care can be less time-consuming once it is established, because organic fertilizer provides a slow, steady stream of nutrients to the soil. Though organic fertilizer is applied less frequently, timing of its application is important. Many lawn problems caused by nutrient-poor soil conditions can be improved by using organic lawn fertilizer.
Organic fertilizer and natural lawn care are becoming popular as more people decide to reduce the presence of harmful chemicals in their home environments. There is concern that some of these chemical lawn products may be harmful, according to a Ohio State University Extension fact sheet on natural organic lawn care. There are many naturally occurring resources to use as lawn fertilizer.
Focus on Soil
The focus of organic lawn care is good soil health. Healthy soil produces healthy plants. Organic fertilizers contribute to soil health by introducing living microorganisms that provide nutrition to growing lawns. Micro-organisms reproduce constantly and create a nutrient cycle of slow-release food between soil and grass. Improved soil also contributes to healthy grass that is less susceptible to disease and pest problems.
Organically managed soil contains organic material which improves soil structure by binding mineral soil particles together to form aggregates. This creates pore space, which provides an optimal condition for root growth. Roots can reach deep into well-structured soil to absorb water easily. Organic fertilizer aids in healthy root growth by introducing a broad range of micro-nutrients that feed soil.
Organic fertilizers are made from animal manures and previously living plant and animal products. These products are naturally available and sustainable. Among them are alfalfa, blood meal, bone meal, bat guano, feather meal, cottonseed meal, fish meal and rock powders.
Ohio State University research has shown that a fertilizing schedule of late summer/fall (September) and late fall (November) is best for home lawns, when grass plants are enlarging their root systems. Applying an organic fertilizer at these times produces good top growth in the spring and improves disease and pest resistance. Organic fertilizer continues to provide nutrients to the soil throughout the winter.