7 Best Lawn Fertilizer Types: A Buying Guide

Ed Wike
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Looking for the best lawn fertilizer for your grass? It’s not enough to buy the best lawn fertilizer without knowing your options. Which fertilizer is best for your lawn? In what order should you apply fertilizer to your yard? It feels like you need a master’s degree to use fertilizer (in reality it’s not). To make matters worse, fertilizer is also incredibly expensive.

Let’s start with definitions:

  • Fertilizer — A nutrient solution that is added to the soil. It’s a slow release of nutrients (e.g., nitrogen, phosphorus, and other trace elements).
  • Top Dressing — Applying fertilizer and lime to an established lawn right before the growing season begins.
  • Foliar Spraying — When you apply fertilizer directly to the leaves instead of to the soil. We’ll get into this more later.
NameCategoryProduct
Milorganite 62036-MW Organic Milorganite FertilizerBest OverallMilorganite 62036-MW Organic Milorganite Fertilizer
Scotts Turf Builder Southern Lawn FoodBudget PickScotts Turf Builder Southern Lawn Food
Espoma EOLF28 Organic All Season Lawn FoodUpgrade PickEspoma EOLF28 Organic All Season Lawn Food

1. Milorganite 62036-MW Organic Milorganite Fertilizer

Our rating: 9 / 10

Milorganite 62036-MW Organic Milorganite Fertilizer

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Pros:

  • It's 100% organic
  • It's made from 100% recycled waste water from the city of Milwaukee
  • It’s micro-encapsulated for better absorption
  • It’s ideal for daily use because it works at the molecular level
  • It can be used for grass, flowers, and shrubs
  • It's useful for trees especially because it's rich in N-P-K
  • It has a silica-rich binder which helps build strong roots which protects against extremes in weather
  • It also hardens and protects against insects and diseases
  • It's easy to apply and stays on the ground longer
  • It's pH neutral

We like Milorganite because it's completely organic. It's made from 100% recycled waste water from the city of Milwaukee. It's a partially stabilized product which means you can both broadcast it onto your lawn and mix it with water to fertilize the soil.

2. Espoma EOLF28 Organic All Season Lawn Food

Our rating: 8 / 10

Espoma EOLF28 Organic All Season Lawn Food

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Pros:

  • Made from 100% organic ingredients
  • Contains beneficial microorganisms
  • Recommended by the American Lawn Chemical Association
  • National Gardening Association Certified for use in organic gardening
  • High in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium
  • 400 square feet coverage
  • Organic and environmentally friendly

Cons:

  • Some customers complain about high salt content in the product
  • Slow release formula means it takes at least three weeks before you start to notice any results
  • Expensive compared to other similar products
  • Instructions for use are unclear

The Espoma Organic Lawn Food is a great choice for someone looking for a fertilizer that is both organic and environmentally friendly while still being effective. The product contains natural microorganisms which promote healthier roots and stems and easier and faster decomposition of lawn clippings leaving the soil nutrient rich.

Espoma's lawn food is 100% organic and this is shown in the ingredients. The product is made up of a combination of raw materials and refined minerals and nutriments. The ingredients used all come from controlled organic sources and include organic and natural fulvic and humic acid extracts, chicken manure, grape pomace, alfalfa meal, seaweed extract, and sulfate of potash. These minerals and extracts all bring important elements to the lawn including sand and gravel, phosphates, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

3. Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Lawn Food

Our rating: 8 / 10

Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Lawn Food

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Pros:

  • Good soil conditioner
  • Increased safety for fertilizing your lawn
  • Easy to measure
  • Excellent value for the money

Cons:

  • The grass turns a brighter green if there is too much of this fertilizer
  • Try not to spray if it is windy outside

Many homeowners are unaware of the many different types of lawn fertilizers available. This is why we have created a comprehensive guide to the top 7 types of fertilizer. Hopefully, this will help clear up some of the confusion surrounding fertilizers.

We also have a detailed buying guide about fertilizer so that you can understand what makes certain fertilizer brands more suitable for certain types of fertilization.

Our top pick is the Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Lawn Food, 5 lb. Fertilizer. This product comes in at a great price and it treats up to 5000 square feet. As the name suggests, this type of fertilizer can be applied directly to your lawn, without the need for mixing. If you accidently apply too much fertilizer, the danger is reduced because it is water soluble and won't harm your lawn.

4. Scotts Turf Builder Southern Lawn Food

Our rating: 8 / 10

Scotts Turf Builder Southern Lawn Food

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Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to apply
  • Results can be seen in as early as 7-10 days
  • Fertilizes your lawn for a full growing season

Cons:

  • Nutrients are more at the surface level
  • More results with applications in the spring

Sometimes, you just need to get something onto your yard for quick results. Scotts products are one of those times. The Scotts brand makes a variety of products for all of your lawn needs. This fertilizer is meant to work right after the roots of your lawn are starting from the seeds in your lawn. The Scotts fertilizer provides nutrition for your lawn and plants to fill in the gaps left by incomplete seed germination.

5. Balanced 16-4-8 Nutrient Liquid Fertilizer

Our rating: 7 / 10

Balanced 16-4-8 Nutrient Liquid Fertilizer

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Pros:

  • Excellent value for money
  • Upgraded sprayer included
  • Lawns look fuller and healthier
  • Contains seaweed extract for natural fertilization
  • Works great on many types of lawns
  • Available in one size only

Cons:

  • Product has been reported to change color
  • Instructions for use are not detailed
  • Can be overused if directions are not followed correctly
  • May be harmful for humans and animals

Lawn fertilizers are one of the principal products used to maintain healthy and unique lawns. There are various types of natural and synthetic fertilizers available aiming to aid the growth of healthy and attractive lawn. Let’s look at some of the best popular options available:

Liquid Fertilizers This is the most popular type of fertilizer you can use for your lawn. Liquid fertilizers are produced by mixing many compounds providing nutrients to the grass. This mixture can be sprayed in the form of a liquid.

Some liquid lawn fertilizers are not mixed with water but are extremely concentrated and may require diluting before application.

6. Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food

Our rating: 6 / 10

Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food

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Pros:

  • Exceptional value for money
  • Great brand reputation
  • Great for home and outdoor use
  • Comes in 2, 4 and 5 pound containers
  • No mixing or diluting needed

This garden patch plant food product from Scotts is a good quality multinutrient plant food for your lawn. It's suitable for any kind of grass and will be sure to get the job done. It is also a good secondary maintenance fertilizer for your lawn, providing the growing objectives with lifelines of nutrition through its organic blend.

The weed killers and fertilizers within the Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food will ensure that your lawn retains its deep green color. It's ideal for any weather conditions, and will strengthen your lawn for a healthy start in the following season.

One customer has reported that they have used this product for over 20 years after noticing results, such as stronger grass and less weeds. They suggest not using the product in the winter, as they claim that the product may cause a white powder to form on the grass. This powder is forms when the product freezes and expands, so it's best to apply this product in warmer weather.

7. Safer Brand Ringer Lawn Restore

Our rating: 6 / 10

Safer Brand Ringer Lawn Restore

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Pros:

  • Easy application
  • Affordable price
  • Faster results with just one application
  • Resealable bag

Cons:

  • Using it in high grass requires more applications
  • Door-to-door customer service is not so great, so contact the manufacturer on the Phone Number listed on the website

Fertilizing your lawn is necessary for a healthy lawn. Keeping your grass healthy using fertilizers will also give a better look, and reduce the amount of time spent on maintenance. This fertilizer is a blend of naturally-occurring plant ingredients and fortified with necessary nutrients. It also contains grass-friendly bacteria to enhance root growth for healthier overall grass. Also, it is environmentally safe, which makes it ideal for both commercial and residential use.

As a bonus, this product is easy to apply as it comes in a pre-measured-application-bag. Each bag has a resealable opening for easy re-use. It is also a safer choice as it does not release toxins that are harmful to humans, plants, or the lawn environment.

The active ingredients and nutrients in this product are activated naturally with rain water and sunlight. When you apply this product, the bacteria will spread evenly in your lawn and start to consume the lawn clippings and grass cuttings. This will result in a healthier turf with plenty of nutrients.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best lawn fertilizer for early spring?

With spring comes the search for the best lawn fertilizer types. We look for cold-weather grass-types that can survive the snows when everything else dies. But more importantly, these lawn types need to bounce back rapidly in the spring, and need to be able to handle the tall weeds that have sprouted up in the winter. So for early spring, you want something that will give the appearance of a large, green lawn when it’s not even tall enough to cut yet, and something that will out-rank any weeds that are already growing in your grass. The goal is to get your lawn off to a fast, good start in the spring.

What is the best ratio for lawn fertilizer?

Lawn fertilizers usually come in dry granules, and you have to mix them with water to create the solution that is ready for you to spray on your lawn. To calculate the amount of lawn fertilizer you will need, you will need to find the recommended ratio of fertilizer to water. It’s usually listed in 2-3 per cent ratio of fertilizer to water. If you are using a bag of fertilizer, you need to find out how much lawn fertilizer you are getting per bag. Then you can easily calculate the amount needed to make the recommended amount of lawn fertilizer solution per application.

What is the best fertilizer to use in the spring?

The best fertilizer to use when your lawn is dry and brown is a liquid fertilizer. Putting down an adequate amount will ensure that your grass comes back strong. Some people don’t know that their dry lawn actually needs fertilizer at all. In fact, lawns generally benefit from more frequent small doses of fertilizer. This is especially true in regions with shorter growing seasons and/or soils that drain quickly.

Fertilizing a new lawn with more than three applications of weak fertilizers in a season will result in poor growth and/or an increase in weeds. Try looking for a fertilizer with slow-releasing nitrogen. This will give your lawn a good start, while also helping to prevent the spread of weed seeds.

In the spring, do your weekly feeding in two short doses rather than one large dose. It will do a better job of preventing your lawn from developing thick thatch and uneven growth.

What is the best granular fertilizer?

Granular fertilizers are best for small areas, such as in your garden beds, in a row, or around your vegetables. They are ideal for continuous feeding of plants throughout the season. With this option, you will get the quickest results in seeing new growth. The biggest drawback of a granular fertilizer is the amount of work required to spread the fertilizer evenly over the area. This method will not work as well for large areas as it will for small areas.

Conclusion

Many practical farmers recommend a balanced fertilizer to help maintain the desired nutrients for growth. This is mainly because most fertilizers contain only one or two nutrients and do not contain the healthier concentrates. High-nitrogen fertilizers must be applied with caution as they could damage sensitive plants. For more effective use, mix fertilizers and other ingredients with compost in order to create the perfect environment for plants to thrive in.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Milorganite 62036-MW Organic Milorganite FertilizerBest OverallMilorganite 62036-MW Organic Milorganite Fertilizer
Scotts Turf Builder Southern Lawn FoodBudget PickScotts Turf Builder Southern Lawn Food
Espoma EOLF28 Organic All Season Lawn FoodUpgrade PickEspoma EOLF28 Organic All Season Lawn Food