Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

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behrygood1982
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Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by behrygood1982 »

I was doing some research and it seems that synthetic fertilizers really don't provide any benefits to the soil and the micro-organisms within it and instead just are there to feed the plant. Using Synthetic fertilizers long term essentially can have a negative impact on soil activity and health. That being said, I wanted to get some inputs from the general public on how synthetic fertilizers can and should be used.

1. Is it a bad idea to use synthetic fertilizers every year 4 times a year? ( scotts for example )
2. Should i drop synthetic fertilizers completely or do they still have a place?
3. Should i alternate between organic and synthetic fertilizers throughout they year?

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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by ionicatoms »

"The advantages and disadvantages of organic or chemical fertilizers relate to the consumer, not the turfgrass."

See tables 2 and 3 in https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh014

I don't bother with organics during the cool season.
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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by Green »

Synthetics are fine, but you really need to be mulch mowing often (which you should be doing anyway) so you're not removing critical nutrients and organic matter from the soil. I'm not a fan of synthetic-only lawn fertilization, but there are times of year (like right now in many locations) when organics are pretty useless. With a longer growing season like you guys in Texas and Florida have, managing organically most of the year can make a lot of sense, but not in the northern two-thirds of the US.
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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by always_creative »

I personally use biosolids (i.e. organics) in the spring: its slow release all summer long, and some complex micros that would be missing otherwise. Then I spoon feed AMS in the fall, because soil temps in my area quickly drop out of the zone where my soil bacteria are going to break biosolids down at a useful rate.

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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by Harts »

Cost comes into play with this conversation. In my experience, being in Canada, organics are simply more expensive. Cost may be negligible on a small lawn - like my current 2,500 sq. ft. But I will be moving to an acre in a few weeks and organics just simply won't be in the budget. I will, however, supplement with liquid micros like humic, fulvic and kelp.

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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by VALawnNoob »

If one uses synthetics ferts only but supplement it with things like humic acid and sea kelp then does that offset any downsides of the synthetics?

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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by gm560 »

In my opinion:
behrygood1982 wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 6:28 am
1. Is it a bad idea to use synthetic fertilizers every year 4 times a year? ( scotts for example )
Maybe. But less due to the synthetics more because the "on the holidays" schedule being less than optimal. I think you could have a very nice lawn on synthetic only and could probably get your "organics" by mulch mowing grass and maybe some fall leaves.
behrygood1982 wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 6:28 am
2. Should i drop synthetic fertilizers completely or do they still have a place?
Probably not. I think they still have a place unless you some reason to drop them other than how your lawn looks. As others mention organics don't work as well if at all in cooler months, which also happen to be the best times to fertilize.
behrygood1982 wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 6:28 am
3. Should i alternate between organic and synthetic fertilizers throughout they year?
Probably. This is the approach I like to take. I try to use each ones strengths to my advantage. Organics like Milo are great in summer to add color without pushing the stressed grass too hard. Synthetics allow you to be very flexible to exactly what you need.. You can fine any combination of NPK as well as how quickly they dispense the nutrients. They work in cooler months, which is beneficial in the fall or even spring on new grass. Too boot are also more cost effective so can keep costs down.

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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by M32075 »

You can use a something like screamin green best of both worlds
Front Hancock PRG ,summer tall fescue mix. Backyard zoysia and cool season mix.

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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by Retromower »

Im kind of mulling this dilemma right now. I really want to use organics in my yard but my yard is so thin in the front yard and so weedy in the back that I probably really need to build it up and make it strong with synthetics because they are so much more powerful and then when I get it nice and thick, I can drop the synths and go all organic.
If you look at the analysis of synthetics vs organics, you get so much more from synths.
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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by Deadlawn »

Retromower wrote:
Thu Apr 01, 2021 11:01 am
Im kind of mulling this dilemma right now. I really want to use organics in my yard but my yard is so thin in the front yard and so weedy in the back that I probably really need to build it up and make it strong with synthetics because they are so much more powerful and then when I get it nice and thick, I can drop the synths and go all organic.
If you look at the analysis of synthetics vs organics, you get so much more from synths.
If you are looking to "build up", that is the best reason yet to use organics rather than synthetics. Organics are slow release and feed the soil. Synthetics are in and out. Think of synthetic fertilizers like a diet of sugary soda and candy and organics like a well balanced diet. The sugary soda and candy will give you quick energy, but the energy is short lived. The well balanced diet well keep you healthy long term.

One of the reasons synthetics became popular was because of how comparatively cheap they are. They are also fast release which gives the end user instant gratification. Who wouldn't want to watch their plants turn green in only a couple of days! The downside is how easy fast release fertilizers leach through the ground and pollute waterways. The other issue with synthetic fertilizers is that they require a large amount of fossil fuel to manufacture and produce CO2 in the process, so they are not sustainable. Organic fertilizers are byproducts of farming, so are much more sustainable. They are also slower release, so much less likely to leach before being used by plants. You will also need to apply fertilizer less often. Imagine what you can do with that time saved!

That being said, if you really want to go with the least amount of money spent, a soil test would be the way to go as it may reveal that you need little to nothing - imagine that!

What I really object to are brands like Scott's that market one-size fits all scheduled apps like clockwork, i.e. 4-Step Program. They assume everybody has the same problems, pests, weeds and soil deficiencies. Take note that synthetics use ammonium sulfate and UREA as main N sources. This will acidify the soil. If you live in the Mid-West where soils pH is naturally high, that's great! If you live here in New England where our soils are naturally acidic, you will need to keep adding lime to counteract that and that equals more money spent!
Last edited by Deadlawn on Sun Apr 18, 2021 2:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Tier 1 - I just want something green. Perennial "weeds" that stay green year round are welcome.

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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by Retromower »

Deadlawn wrote:
Thu Apr 01, 2021 1:27 pm
Retromower wrote:
Thu Apr 01, 2021 11:01 am
Im kind of mulling this dilemma right now. I really want to use organics in my yard but my yard is so thin in the front yard and so weedy in the back that I probably really need to build it up and make it strong with synthetics because they are so much more powerful and then when I get it nice and thick, I can drop the synths and go all organic.
If you look at the analysis of synthetics vs organics, you get so much more from synths.
If you are looking to "build up", that is the best reason yet to use organics rather than synthetics. Organics are slow release and feed the soil. Synthetics are in and out. Think of synthetic fertilizers like a diet of sugary soda and candy and organics like a well balanced diet. The sugary soda and candy will give you quick energy, but the energy is short lived. The well balanced diet well keep you healthy long term.

One of the reasons synthetics became popular was because of how comparatively cheap they are. They are also fast release which gives the end user instant gratification. Who wouldn't want to watch their plants turn green in only a couple of days! The downside is how easy fast release fertilizers leach through the ground and pollute waterways. The other issue with synthetic fertilizers is that they require a large amount of fossil fuel to manufacture and produce CO2 in the process, so they are not sustainable. Organic fertilizers are byproducts of farming, so are much more sustainable. They are also slower release, so much less likely to leach before being used by plants. You will also need to apply fertilizer less often. Imagine what you can do with that time saved!

That being said, if you really want to go with the least amount of money spent, a soil test would be the way to go as it may reveal that you need little to nothing - imagine that!

What I really object to are brands like Scott's that market one-size fits all scheduled apps like clockwork, i.e. 4-Step Program. They assume everybody has the same problems, pests, weeds and soil deficiencies. Take note that Scott's Turf Builder has a high level of sulfur which will acidify the soil. If you live in the Mid-West where soils pH is naturally high, that's great! If you live here in New England where our soils are naturally acidic, you will need to keep adding lime to counteract that and that equals more money spent!
All good points. I picked up some Scotts starter fert and some crabgrass preventer. Im going to use the starter on the front lawn where I removed a mulch lawn and planted seed last fall. Ive got some grass starting to come in but its also dense shade and I want something that is really going to put the grass into overdrive this summer and make it grow in and thicken up quickly, so that the grass can take advantage of what sun it actually gets. Im getting the trees removed this summer but in meantime, I want to do whatever I can to get the grass in gear.
For the back, I have decent grass but its got some bare patches and its so weedy that I want something thats going to knock the weeds out. I am growing the grass taller (3.5") and thas going to help but Ive got so much crabgrass, clover and other random weeds that have these white flowers. I tried pulling them but it seems like other weeds pop up in the next day or 2 that it kind of feels like a waste of time. LOL
So, yes, I agree with you that I want to go organic for so many reasons and probably will do a mix of synth and organic, at least until I get the grass to grow in strong and get the weeds under control.
IMO, organics are great but they arent right in every situation. If your yard is a mess, like mine is, you need a synthetic because until you get things under control, youre never going to have a strong lawn. I do agree though that synths probably arent a long-term answer.
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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by Deadlawn »

Retromower wrote:
Fri Apr 02, 2021 8:50 am
All good points. I picked up some Scotts starter fert and some crabgrass preventer. Im going to use the starter on the front lawn where I removed a mulch lawn and planted seed last fall. Ive got some grass starting to come in but its also dense shade and I want something that is really going to put the grass into overdrive this summer and make it grow in and thicken up quickly, so that the grass can take advantage of what sun it actually gets. Im getting the trees removed this summer but in meantime, I want to do whatever I can to get the grass in gear.
For the back, I have decent grass but its got some bare patches and its so weedy that I want something thats going to knock the weeds out. I am growing the grass taller (3.5") and thas going to help but Ive got so much crabgrass, clover and other random weeds that have these white flowers. I tried pulling them but it seems like other weeds pop up in the next day or 2 that it kind of feels like a waste of time. LOL
So, yes, I agree with you that I want to go organic for so many reasons and probably will do a mix of synth and organic, at least until I get the grass to grow in strong and get the weeds under control.
IMO, organics are great but they arent right in every situation. If your yard is a mess, like mine is, you need a synthetic because until you get things under control, youre never going to have a strong lawn. I do agree though that synths probably arent a long-term answer.
As I said before, the first thing I would do before ANYTHING else is get a soil test.

Crabgrass, YUCK! Good luck with that. If you live near farms, you will have it, period. The best way to control crabgrass is to keep your lawn thick and healthy and to mow high. Crabgrass needs light in order to germinate so it cannot germinate where the ground cover is thick and high. Remember that saying that Mother Nature abhors a vacuum! Keep in mind that the crabgrass preventer is a pre-emergent weed control. That means you cannot seed grass there for a period of time. No seed will germinate there as long as it is active in the soil.

If you can tolerate the clover, keep in mind that clover is a legume and as such pulls nitrogen out of the atmosphere and puts it back into the soil - more money saved on fertilizer! Personally I think white clover looks nice in a lawn, but that's just me. Before the advent of 2-4 D, clover was often included in grass seed mixtures and you would actually pay more for a higher percentage of clover. The man who invented 2-4 D in the 1940's was apologetic that this new weed killer had the unfortunate side effect of killing clover. So then the marketing campaign started to subsequently demote clover to weed status.

As an aside, many people mistake common wood sorrel with clover. They have a similar leaf, but are not even in the same order. White Dutch clover is a perennial and mixes in nicely with turf grass. Wood sorrel (note yellow flowers) is an annual weed which dies off and leaves ugly bare spots:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trifolium_repens

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxalis_stricta
Last edited by Deadlawn on Sun Apr 18, 2021 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by VALawnNoob »

He mentioned scott's starter with crabgrass preventer. it uses mesotrione which allows for seeding

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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by Deadlawn »

VALawnNoob wrote:
Sun Apr 04, 2021 10:05 am
He mentioned scott's starter with crabgrass preventer. it uses mesotrione which allows for seeding
Interesting. A selective pre-emergent?
Tier 1 - I just want something green. Perennial "weeds" that stay green year round are welcome.

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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by gm560 »

Deadlawn wrote:
Sun Apr 04, 2021 10:39 am
VALawnNoob wrote:
Sun Apr 04, 2021 10:05 am
He mentioned scott's starter with crabgrass preventer. it uses mesotrione which allows for seeding
Interesting. A selective pre-emergent?
It has tenacity in it, so pre-emergent for 30 days or so. Im actually not positive the OP meant the Starter with Meso. "I picked up some Scotts starter fert and some crabgrass preventer", leaves some ambiguity as to if this was 1 bag (Starter with meso), or 2 (1 bag Starter, 1 bag of CG preventer). :ugeek:

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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by Buffalolawny »

Using synthetic fertilisers four times per year will not harm your grass or soil. It will have so many more benefits.
Increasing root mass to feed the microbes is the main one.
Organics work above a certain soil temp (my area four months only).
The other months need to use liquids or synthetic fertilisers.

i use 4kg of urea to 25kg of composted raw manure

https://www.richgro.com.au/products/nat ... /urea-4kg/

https://neutrog.com.au/2019/01/25/rooster-booster/

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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by mjh648 »

Buffalolawny wrote:
Mon Apr 05, 2021 5:43 am
Using synthetic fertilisers four times per year will not harm your grass or soil. It will have so many more benefits.
Increasing root mass to feed the microbes is the main one.
Organics work above a certain soil temp (my area four months only).
The other months need to use liquids or synthetic fertilisers.
From what I understood most synthetic fertilizers are not slow release so the portion of the grass closest to the top of the soil absorbs all the nutrients first, whereas organic fertilizers are slow release which allow the nutrients to work deeper in to the soil which feeds the roots more appropriately which in turn leads to the "increased root mass". Do you have any information that says otherwise? I'd love to be more educated on the topic if I am wrong.

Also your comment saying organics only work above a certain temp. Don't all fertilizers only work above a certain temp which is the grass dormancy cutoff? Maybe a more appropriate statement is that the slow release of the organic means that it takes longer for the nutrients to be taken up by the grass so if you want to put down fertilizer between fall and winter transition you would just need to put down sooner than synthetic.

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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by JeffR84 »

Take note that Scott's Turf Builder has a high level of sulfur which will acidify the soil.
The sulfur is Scott’s products is sulphate sulfur, which has no effect on soil pH.

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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by Deadlawn »

JeffR84 wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:48 pm
Take note that Scott's Turf Builder has a high level of sulfur which will acidify the soil.
The sulfur is Scott’s products is sulphate sulfur, which has no effect on soil pH.
Intersting. So you're saying it will increase your sulfur level without lowering your pH?
Tier 1 - I just want something green. Perennial "weeds" that stay green year round are welcome.

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Re: Should i even use synthetic fertilizers and if so how?

Post by JeffR84 »

Deadlawn wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:50 pm
JeffR84 wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:48 pm
Take note that Scott's Turf Builder has a high level of sulfur which will acidify the soil.
The sulfur is Scott’s products is sulphate sulfur, which has no effect on soil pH.
Intersting. So you're saying it will increase your sulfur level without lowering your pH?
I’m saying the sulfur in the product won’t affect pH. Sulfur levels and pH aren’t directly linked. Elemental sulfur can lower pH by being converted to Sulfuric acid overtime by the microbes in the soil, but it’s not the same is sulfate sulfur.

pH is a measurement of the amount of hydrogen ions in the soil. Synthetic fertilizers that contain ammonium sulfate and to a lesser extent urea can acidify the soil because the ammonium releases hydrogen ions into the soil. But that’s a very negligible effect and any synthetic fertilizer is going to have that affect.

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