Organic lawn fertilizer without breaking the bank

wynswrld98(z7 WA)March 9, 2013

I've been very spotty with fertilizing my lawn here in a suburb of Tacoma WA but want to get on a regular schedule as experts suggest (e.g., Ciscoe Morris) using an organic lawn fertilizer to improve its vigor.

I have some serious sticker shock when I look at the cost of organic fertilizers at local nurseries such as Dr. Earth fertilizer. And the big box stores don't seem to carry any organic lawn fertilizers that I find.

My lawn is a whopping 4700 s.f. so cost of the fertilizer is a huge issue.

Anyone have any suggestions?

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I'm not an expert on lawns, but I do know that lawns do best at a pH of around 6 to 6.5. That's way higher than the normal pH of soils in this area. So a good shot of lime might be an inexpensive way to get started. When the pH is right, the other nutrients are much more easily absorbed by the plant roots.

The other thing I know from experience is that lawn clippings make a great fertilizer for lawns. So I don't collect my clippings. If they clump up, I just rake them out, so they don't look bad or harm the grass buried under them. My lawn is bright, dark green, even though I only fertilize once every five years or so.

Another thing you can do is sow some clover into the lawn. Clover is a legume, and its roots actually add Nitrogen to the soil by a process called Nitrogen fixation.

IMO, the only lawn that needs regular fertiization is one that is growing in very coarse soil that leaches rapidly.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nitrogen fixation

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 11:53AM
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wynswrld98(z7 WA)

I do use a recycling mower and leave clippings on. I know about lime. I'm asking about lawn fertilizers and that's specifically what I was asking about, am hoping someone has some ideas of a reasonable cost organic lawn fertilizer vs. what I'm finding at local nurseries, am open to order online as well if someone makes such a recommendation for a reasonable organic lawn fertilizer online. Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 1:07PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Maybe you would like to try composted, screened manure.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 5:54PM
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Using a mulching mower should reduce fertilizing requirements to a minimum. If you do opt to fertilize, a single application of organic fert is a reasonable supplement. Unlike the synthetic ferts, organics are rather slow acting and do not need to be reapplied frequently during the growing season. The fall or late season fertilizing is more important than the spring if you only want to apply once.

Corn gluten meal can be purchased at feed stores and is a perfectly acceptable organic fertilizer as well as helping to prevent weed development. It is just pretty low dose (9-1-0) and offers not much other than nitrogen.

Far more important than fertilizing your lawn - especially if using a muclhing mower - is an annual aeration of the lawn using a plug aerator. This is by far the best thing you can do for lawn health.....doesn't hurt at all to then spread a layer of screened compost and forget the expense of any kind of fertilizing.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 4:20PM
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wynswrld98(z7 WA)

Thanks for the responses everyone! Hey, a side question but still about lawns here in the Pacific Northwest (specifically greater Tacoma area), the compost often found around at nurseries/etc. is Cedar Grove Compost. Anyone have any opinions on Cedar Grove Compost vs. Tagro sold by the city of Tacoma for a topdress of lawn? The Tagro is $10/yard when picked up in Tacoma, quite inexpensive.

I've never used Tagro and am curious anyone who has opinions of Tagro vs. Cedar Grove Compost for things like top dressing a lawn (or planter bed).

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 1:01AM
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wynswrld98(z7 WA)

I found a organic lawn fertilizer named Milogranite that seems to be getting very food reviews and is reasonable cost, available on websites but also found it at a local Fred Meyer. $15 for 36 lbs.

As far as doing an annual top dressing I'm still exploring options of the Cedar Grove Compost and Tagro, would be curious opinions on that.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 10:51PM
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George Three LLC

i am in the compost on top of 1/4 10 gravel school of top dressing. then seed with drought resistant, low fertilizer seeds. no need to fertilize with this as an annual procedure.

Here is a link that might be useful: joycreek advice

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 1:50AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Milorganite and Tagro are of course municipal sludge based, so I would never use them myself.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 2:09PM
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wynswrld98(z7 WA)

I didn't know Milorganite was municipal sludge based until you mentioned it. Somehow I missed that on their website but ofcourse I don't think they want to feature that. As far as using it on my lawn I don't care (unlike you who evidently does).

Based on that info I started looking how SoundGro pellets (about $3/bag for 50 lb bag) sold in University Place WA compare to Milorganite ($15 for 36 lb bag Fred Meyer). SoundGro states 6-7-0 N-P-K, Milorganite 5-2-0, both pelleted for easy application. Milorganite states 4% iron. Based on this I think I'm going to give SoundGro a try, seems like a lot of bang for the buck.

Interesting posting I found web surfing:

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 11:50PM
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Load up free Sumner Grow at

Sumner Bonney Lake Wastewater Treatment Facility
13114 - 63rd Street E, Sumner WA 98390

Bring your own buckets & shovel to the shed in front of the anytime. I also wear a mask because it's dusty. If you're putting it inside a vehicle bring lidded containers or plastic bags you can tie shut. The dust can blow all over your vehicle...along with the odor. Bring a separate pair of shoes to put in a bag if you don't want to track it into your car. The shed is a 3 sided structure & the material spreads out from there, so you stand in the residue to shovel from the back.

It's dry granular black with dust & is dense in weight like gravel. A little goes a long way. The smell is distinctive, but not horrible. My family doesn't like the smell nor do deer. I've not used it for a year on the lawn & ornamental plants because of the smell. Not ever in our edible gardens.

Do call ahead if you're getting a pick up load. The shed doesn't hold that much.


Here is a link that might be useful: about free Sumner Grow

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 12:33PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

With the similarity in naming I suspected that would be sludge based also.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 3:51PM
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I'm sure the lawn and ornamentals will love all the hormones, antibiotics, and antidepressants, not to mention the Ed meds......
and we worry about GMOs......!?
ei, yi, yi,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:06AM
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kaybradj(Portland, OR)

Take a stroll over to Organic Lawn Care Forum Plenty of good advice their. Most of the reccomended "fertilizers" not actually fertilizer. They are mostly stock feed such as Alfalfa Pellets (horse feed), Cracked corn, Soy bean meal, etc that you can get at any feedstore.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 7:20PM
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George Three LLC

although, depending on how "breaking the bank" is defined, stock feed as fertilizer might do the trick.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 1:35AM
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wynswrld98(z7 WA)

what is "stock feed"?

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 3:00AM
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George Three LLC

food you feed to livestock; the stock is fed with stock feed.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 11:15PM
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LIke the corn gluten meal mentioned previously - other seed meals are typically offered at feed stores and prices are very reasonable.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 4:20PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Screened manure and sand work for me. My neighbor raises two cows every summer.
Moles are my biggest problem, hence, the sand. Sand and manure make a great filler for the collapsed mole tunnels as well as the mounds they leave. I try to keep my lawn sq. ft. to a minimum.
My wife has a different view.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 9:58PM
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