Chemical vs Organic Lawn Fertilizer -- Which Works Better?
Environmentalists are always bashing my lawn. They say the fertilizer I use to make it thick and green is killing the world like that nuke plant in Japan. So last summer, I decided to experiment. I divided my lawn in lawn in half, used chemical fertilizer on one half, organic fertilizer on the other, to see which did the better job.
But before I continue, let me take a minute to pontificate on the word "chemical." People often use the word "chemical" to negatively describe synthetic fertilizers and pesticides made by companies like Dow and Scott's, as opposed to "organic" products that employ substances and organisms found in nature. Truth is, though, BOTH kinds of products are chemicals. The difference is where and how the chemicals originate. Water is the chemical "dihydrogen monoxide." It makes up 60% of your body. So "chemical" is not inherently a dirty word -- unless, of course, you're a dirty person, but that's really none of my business.
The Test In my totally unscientific test using only my Bermuda grass lawn, I applied to the first half two feedings of Scott's 26-4-2 Lawn Fertilizer using its ingenious Snap spreader. (I love this device, because when you attach the bag to the spreader, the bag opens and closes at the bottom as you use it. When you're done, you detach the closed bag to store any unused fertilizer inside it. Cool beans.) Scott's is synthetic, "chemical" fertilizer. A bag that covers 4,000 square-feet costs about $20.
To the other half, I applied two feedings of Sustane 8-2-4 All Natural Lawn & Landscape Plant Food. Sustane derives its nutrients from compost and nitrogen rich feather meal and is certified "organic." A bag that covers about 2,000 square-feet costs about $34. I used a rotary spreader to apply it.
Both halves were fertilized on the same mornings and the products watered in. Each half received the same expert care you've come to expect of Grumpy.
The Results I was surprised. I'd expected that since Sustane contained about a third of the nitrogen that Scott's did and its nitrogen was slow-release that the grass fed with Scott's would green up quicker. Didn't happen. In fact, a few days after a good rain, I couldn't see any color difference between them.
One thing I did notice about Sustane was the smell. After you put it down, your lawn smells like a cattle pasture for a few days. But some people like that. Cattle people.
By the end of summer, I could see no difference in the health, color, or thickness between the two halves. Both halves looked very nice. This was terrible. How can I recommend to you, my faithful and adoring readers, what product to use if they both work well????
Take Your Pick In the end, your choice depends on what's important to you. If price is most important, you'll probably choose Scott's. If an odor-free lawn is important, you'll probably choose Scott's. On the other hand, if using a natural product that builds the soil by adding organic matter is important, you'll probably choose Sustane. And if you think Scott's is an agent of Satan, you'll probably choose Sustane.
I don't have a dog in this fight. I bought both products and both spreaders, so nobody can say I was bribed. But if you WANT to bribe me, please note -- I require cash in twenties.