When homeowners are trying to approve their curb appeal, an obvious place to start is with your property’s lawn.
Here in Texas, however, plants face an uphill battle to get established and to stay healthy. Although soil types and quality vary across the state, our warm climate and lack of rainfall present many challenges for homeowners who want to keep their lawns looking green.
One way to provide the nutrients plants need to survive and thrive is to apply fertilizer.
ABC Home & Commercial Services, our lawn care experts know a lot about lawn care. We also care about the impact of our products on the environment. That’s why we only use the best natural and organic lawn fertilizers currently on the market.
In this article, we would like to educate homeowners about the best types of organic fertilizer by exploring the following topics:
- The importance of fertilizer
- Organic vs. chemical fertilizer
- Benefits of organic fertilizer to reduce water use
- How soil health improves when you use natural fertilizers
- Advantages of using premium fertilizers during drought
- Cost savings you will experience with organic fertilizer
- Why natural fertilizers are better for the environment
Whether you are laying down new sod, looking for the best fertilizer for your vegetable garden or adding a tree to your landscape, your home can benefit from regular application of fertilizer.
Before we talk more about the benefits of certain types of turf enrichment, let’s talk about why you need fertilizer in the first place.
The Importance Of Fertilizer
Just like people, plants need food and water to survive.
Many homeowners utilize sprinkler systems to water grass, flowerbeds and shrubs on a regular basis. In addition to allowing you to schedule watering on a year-round basis, irrigation systems allow homeowners to water in certain areas more than others.
Is watering your lawn at night a good idea? Lawn care experts will advise you to water your lawn early in the morning to allow grass, plants and leaves to fully absorb moisture and to avoid disease. You will also need to adjust your watering schedule at different times of year to correspond to drier and wetter seasons.
Once you have a sprinkler system up and running, you’ll need to feed your plants. Most soils do not contain all of the nutrients your plants need to survive. Even if your soil is conducive to healthy plant growth, nutrients will need to be replaced periodically, as they are absorbed by your plants over time. Food also helps plants recover from normal wear and tear and mowing.
The six primary nutrients plants need to survive are:
Plants absorb the first three nutrients from the air surrounding them and from the water you supply. The last three nutrients, plus a host of other important ingredients, found in smaller quantities, are provided to plants through the application of fertilizer.
What are the most important components of commercially-available fertilizers? Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Why is each critical for the health of your yard?
Plants absorb very little nitrogen from water and rainfall. Found in all living cells, nitrogen is a component of chlorophyll, which is vital for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process whereby plants convert sunlight into food. Nitrogen is also an important part of all proteins and helps promote rapid plant growth and seed formation.
Phosphorus is another key ingredient in photosynthesis. Vital to root development and flowering, phosphorus also helps transfer energy within plants.
Potassium helps plants tolerate stress because it promotes good root development. Plants depend on potassium to regulate water at the cellular level and to regulate metabolism.
Organic Vs. Chemical Fertilizers
To determine which of these nutrients your lawn needs, you can perform a soil test. Soil testing kits are available online or at home supply stores. These kits will give you a better idea of not only how much of certain elements are in your yard, but also the pH levels, which can indicate the level of micronutrients in your soil.
Once you have a better idea of what your grass needs, you can determine what kind of fertilizer to apply.
Homeowners can choose between two primary types of fertilizers: organic or chemical.
Generally speaking, organic fertilizer is minimally processed and made from the waste of plants or animals. These naturally-occurring ways to enrich your soil can contain peat, cottonseed meal, biosolids (often from manure), compost and fish emulsion. Organic fertilizers tend to have a slower release than their synthetic counterparts so that plants can absorb nutrients over a longer period of time.
Chemical fertilizers are usually created in a factory and made up of chemicals and inorganic ingredients, such as petroleum and natural gas byproducts. These products have been highly refined to provide the benefits plants need. Since the components are more processed, nutrients are more readily available.
There are the five main reasons that lawn care experts recommend organic and natural fertilizers to their customers: these amendments maximize water retention, improve soil health, promote drought tolerance, save money and are better for the environment than conventional products.
Benefits Of Organic Fertilizers To Reduce Water Use
Since most of the state has experienced the impact of historically low levels of rainfall, many Texas communities are subject to water restrictions. As homeowners look for ways to reduce their environmental footprint, water conservation programs have raised awareness about conserving this precious resource. Using organic fertilizers on your grass and lawn will help you reduce your water use.
A healthy landscape allows plants to absorb water and nutrients in order to promote steady and long-term growth. The key ingredients in these products help retain water in the soil and reduce runoff, so your water requirements will decrease over time.
How Soil Health Improves When You Use Natural Fertilizers
Chemical fertilizers may help promote plant growth in the short term, but they provide no benefits to the soil. Long-term use of synthetic fertilizers can even change the pH of your soil and disturb the natural balance of micronutrients in the soil, leaving lasting damage.
Similar to the way probiotics help to maintain the balance of helpful bacteria in humans, the mixture of ingredients in organic fertilizers helps keep plants healthy. Adding these products helps make soil more porous, which promotes seed growth, increases water filtration, reduces runoff and prevents soil compaction.
Advantages Of Using Premium Fertilizers During Drought
Texas continues to experience the impact of a historic drought which started in 2010. These weather patterns are causing a shift in how we think about our outdoor spaces. As water sources become more scarce, municipal restrictions are forcing us to reconsider how often to water our lawns in the summer. Homeowners increasingly choose native plants for their landscapes which tend to be more resilient in the face of our sometimes unpredictable weather patterns.
During drought conditions, the ingredients in higher-end, more natural products enable the soil to retain water and needed nutrients for a longer period of time than an area with no amendments. In addition, these products promote enhanced root growth, which means that during a drought, a plant is better able to reach moisture and nutrients in the soil.
Cost Savings You Will Experience With Organic Fertilizer
Homeowners face a large list of expenses, so every penny counts. Traditionally, when you hear the word “organic”, you tend to associate those products with a higher cost.
That’s not always the case. Traditional fertilizer promotes rapid plant growth, so a larger amount needs to be applied over the long term to keep generating results. When you use organic fertilizers on your property, you can reduce your synthetic inputs by 75%, which represents significant cost savings over the long run.
Why Natural Fertilizers Are Better For The Environment
The Environmental Protection Agency considers nutrient pollution one of our country’s most serious environmental problems. The impact of excess nutrients on our planet are severe and have been linked to environmental and human health issues.
Fish and other wildlife that call our waterways home are harmed by the nitrates, phosphates, and pesticides which make up many types of fertilizers and often drain into our lakes, rivers, and streams. Using fertilizers with natural ingredients allows you to reduce the use of these dangerous chemicals by up to 90% and help protect the environment.
Give Your Lawn The Nutrients It Needs
Has your lawn seen better days? Is your grass yellow from the relentless Texas sun? Give your lawn a boost with turf enrichment and enjoy the benefits of a beautiful lawn without having to lift a finger.