Here is my Organic Lawn Fertilization Schedule. Just remember, that while a true organic schedule may make you feel good about the environment, I have yet to have anyone using it to show me a lawn as green as one you can get from the synthetic schedule.
The need for better organic products is obvious, however, as we all become more "environmentally aware."
Those who have listened to my program, or subscribe to my e-mail tips, will probably agree that there is probably a good middle ground between the two. I'm a big proponent of organic products when they work and aren't over-priced, but I'm also a fan of schedules/products that work and save money to boot. And if you've followed my schedule and enjoyed its successes, you know what I mean.
The ultimate benefit of the organic schedule: fewer things to do. Many advocates of organic fertilizers claim that they only fertilizer two or three times a year.
Also worth noting, as I did in my book, organic fertilizers can end up being a little more tedious and, in most cases, more costly. Simply put, most organic fertilizers don't cover as many square feet, but always cost about the same as — if not more than — a bag of synthetic fertilizer, which can cover 3-5 times more square footage. The best example of this chasm in pricing is Ag Org PL (poultry litter), which averages $20-$25 a bag and covers 1,500 square feet. Or Nitro Phos Super Turf (an example of a synthetic brand) which costs $17-$20 a bag and covers 7,500 square feet. You do the math! The reason it can seem tedious is related to poor soil. The poorer the soil, the longer it will take to see the ultimate benefits on the organic schedule.
Yet, having said all that, many organic fertilizers are getting much better at improving their coverage on a square-footage basis. One of the best examples is Lady Bug Natural Lawn & Garden Fertilizer, which averages $25 a bag and covers 4,000-5,000 square feet. And it doesn't smell nasty like many organic fertilizers.
Here's a brief list of organic fertilizers I think should be considered in the schedule, mainly because they are somewhat cost effective, don't smell (make me gag) bad, and are readily available. Availability is somewhat subjective, though, since they're carried mostly by independent retail garden centers that aren't part of "big box" stores. Lowe's, however, has been known to carry the Medina products.
FEBRUARY - Corn gluten meal (as pre-emergent herbicide)
MARCH - Organic fertilizer as listed above
APRIL - Compost as top dressing
MAY - Organic fertilizer as listed above
SEPTEMBER - Organic fertilizer as listed above/or simply compost top dressing
Agricultural Corn Meal as preventative fungicide
OCTOBER - Organic fertilizer as listed above, as winterizer treatment
NOVEMBER - Corn gluten meal as pre-emergent herbicide
As you may have noticed, if comparing schedules, one of the other benefits of using a 100 percent organic schedule is the reduced need for fungicides due to all the beneficial bacteria and protozoa that will naturally fight fungal diseases. But you will also discover agricultural corn meal (for fungal treatment) and corn gluten meal (for pre-emergent herbicide treatment) are very hard to find. In fact, very few garden centers carry more than one product for each of those treatments. And I'll bet dollars to donuts that none of the mass merchandisers carry either. Thus, there's not much need to list different brands like I did for the myriad of organic fertilizers.
The good news is that this is obviously a growing market, and I witnessed many manufacturers trying to get their agricultural corn meal and corn gluten meal products into Texas nurseries and garden centers at last year's Texas Nursery & Landscape Association Convention.