What are the best granular fertilizers on the market for your lawn?

Written by Gene Caballero on January 24, 2018

Best fertilizers for your lawn:

Choosing the right fertilizer doesn’t have to be difficult, but there are many questions you may have about selecting a fertilizer, for instance...

Which fertilizer brand is the best Scott's, Jonathan Green, Milorganite, Espoma?

Do I need to use a nitrogen rich fertilizer?

Does organic fertilizer really make a difference?

And why is my neighbor putting humus in his yard?!

So many questions come to mind, and they can make fertilizing your lawn seem like an intimidating task.

But here’s the thing, once you have picked the right fertilizer, spreading those nutritious granules through your yard can be fun, and the results can be astonishing.

Not all lawn fertilizers are made equally, and what is in some of the top rated fertilizers may just surprise you.

But first take a moment to determine what the best time to fertilize your lawn, with this short video:

Now onward to a bit of info for you to keep in mind when selecting the best granular fertilizer for your yard.....

3 Key Fertilizer Groups

There are 3 main groups of fertilizers, though many fertilizers include properties from more than one of these groups, picking the best fertilizer starts with recognizing the 3 Key Fertilizer Groups.

  1. NPK Fertilizers – This most commonly used fertilizer group, adds three essential nutrients for plant growth these are; N- Nitrogen, P- Phosphorus, K- Potassium
  2. pH Fertilizers – Whether you realized it or not, you have used this type of fertilizer if you have ever used lime in your yard, this fertilizer group performs the specific function of neutralizing or alkalizing soil PH
  3. Humate Fertilizer – This fertilizer is derived from ancient fossils and is often overlooked, but it performs many essential functions.

1) NPK Fertilizers-

The most common form of fertilizers on the market are NPK type fertilizers, these fertilizers contain specific levels of N- Nitrogen, P- Phosphorus, and K- Potassium. Each of these nutrients perform unique parts in the development of plants.

2) pH Fertilizers

We have always been told that lime is good for the yard, but do you know why?

Lime and other calcium based fertilizers are in the pH balancing fertilizer group. A neutral pH of around 6.5 is the optimum pH for most grass varieties.

Why?

A neutral pH in the soil allows for the optimal absorption of nutrients, especially phosphorus, iron, manganese and several other key elements.

So I don't bore you to death, check out this link for more info and beautiful charts on the importance of a proper pH.

Most fertilizers do not include any pH fixing properties, so be sure to do a second fertilizer as needed to keep pH at the optimal level. 

Over time NPK fertilizers acidify the soil, which lead to poor uptake of nutrients, this is why we have to adjust pH, and also why you need to look into adding humates to our lawn.

3) Humate Fertilizers

Humate contains a variety of components like humus, humic acid and fulvic acid.

Now before you start spreading tahini and chickpeas through your yard, it is important to realize that this humus differs greatly than the one from the Mediterranean dish. Fertilizers that contain humates are an essential and too often overlooked components to building a healthy soil.

Humates are essential for the uptake of nutrients as they contain metallic salts and nutrients, some of which even penetrate the mitochondrial wall of plant cells!

A healthy lawn requires not only NPK nutrients in the soil, but also a whole team of unseen organisms which create a kind of neural network that allow for the optimal transfer of resources from the soil to plant foots and beyond. These microbes include antibiotic producing bacteria which prevent disease, fungus that uses fine fibers to transfer nutrients from the soil to grass roots and on and on.

There are both organic and inorganic humic substances, the former being mainly the result of ancient animal and plant remains, the later a form made in a factory and largely seen as inferior to organic humates among both the agricultural and scientific communities. For a very thorough review on all the functions of humic substances be sure to check out this article.

In Short An Organic Humates will:

For more on organic lawn care check out this!

Now that you are familiar with the basic functions of the 3 fertilizer groups, it’s time to decide which of these fertilizers is best for your lawn!

Once you have decided on your fertilizer follow this guide to spread it properly.

Top 9 Granular Fertilizers

Brand  N  P   K  pH Humate/ Microbes
Jonathon Green's Green Up 12 18
8 N/A Organic Humates
Scotts Natural Lawn Food*  11 2  2 N/A N/A
Safer Lawn Restore* 10 6 N/A Claims to stimulate microbes
Dr. Earth Lawn Fertilizer*   9  3 5 N/A Includes Probiotic
Epsoma All Season*   9 0 0 N/A Includes Biotone
Scotts Turf Builder  32
 0
 0
N/A
N/A
Vigoro Organic Lawn Food* 7 0 3 N/A Includes Terrazome
Milorganite*^
 5
 2
 0
N/A
N/A
Jonathan Green Love Your Soil*     0 0 Yes Organic Humates

*Organic ^Fun Fact- Though “organic”, Milorganite is made from recycled human waste from Milwaukee.

Here's a few tips to keep in mind while fertilizing

Finally now that you have selected the right fertilizer spread it through your lawn evenly using a spreader, sit back and enjoy the results! For optimal results fertilize at least twice a year! 

Many fertilizer companies offer a multi step fertilizer program which use a variety of fertilizers throughout the year to help you maintain a perfect lawn.  When in doubt consult with your favorite fertilizer company, most are more than happy to help you find what you need.

For more on caring for your lawn check out our Ultimate Lawn Care Guide

Now that you know which fertilizer you will be using in your lawn, be sure to share this guide with your friends!

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