The "Environmentally Friendly" Lawn

By: News Canada ">

Organic or conventional fertilizer?

(NC)-A well-maintained lawn acts like a giant air filter, constantly removing pollutants and carbon dioxide, and replenishing the oxygen supply.

A lawn is a valuable addition to every home environment, regardless of its size. Today , most homeowners want to keep their lawn looking green and healthy so it adds beauty to the house and enjoyment to the family. (Also, a lush green lawn makes a better air filter than one that is allowed to run wild.) At the same time, people are increasingly aware of the environmental aspects of lawn care. For many, natural or 'organic' options seem to be the way to go.

There is a lot of confusion in the lawn and garden market about exactly what is meant by the terms 'Natural' or 'Organic'. In fact, some products that are positioned as organic can actually be more harmful to the environment than 'conventional' products

Let's take a look at lawn feeding from the plant's point of view. All plants require 3 major nutrients - nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potash (K) - to survive. These 3 elements, often referred to as 'chemical' fertilizers, are actually produced from elements found in nature...they're refined from minerals mined from the ground.

All fertilizers - conventional or organic - must contain some form of these three nutrients for healthy plant growth. On a bag of fertilizer, the percentage of each element is represented by a number. For example, 24-4-8 lawn fertilizer contains 24% nitrogen, 4% phosphorus and 8% potash as active ingredients. On the extreme 'organic' side, cattle manure for example contains less than 1% each of N, P and K and may contain a lot of weed seeds if not composted properly. It is good for the lawn or garden, but more useful for building up organic matter in the soil. It is unlikely to be able to supply enough food for healthy plant growth. Higher quality natural fertilizers deliver N, P and K in the form of unprocessed or homogenous ingredients, such as blood or bone meal. They typically have lower N, P and K numbers than conventional fertilizers, but can provide a balanced diet to meet plant nutritional requirements. Nitrogen promotes healthy green foliage, phosphorus develops strong roots and plentiful fruit or flowers, while potash improves overall plant hardiness and disease resistance. The plant takes up only as much of these elements as it needs. Any excess amount can be leached away into the environment - whether the source is conventional or organic - so it's just as important not to overfeed as it is to underfeed. This is where 'Slow Release Nitrogen' is important. It was developed to help reduce the groundwater leaching potential of nitrogen into our environment.

This is where high quality 'conventional' fertilizers can sometimes offer an advantage. In fact, in a high quality fertilizer the nutrients are designed to be released slowly, giving plants only the food they need, over an extended period of time. This reduces the risk of nitrogen leaching into ground-water, and has the added benefit of reducing the number of applications you need to make over the growing season. One new fertilizer worth looking at is C-I-L? 77™ Lawn Fertilizer from Canadian Tire. It has 77% slow-release nitrogen to reduce leaching and feed evenly for about 2 months.

The key to maintaining a healthy, environmentally friendly lawn is in feeding it just the right amount of nutrients for healthy growth, without over-feeding. You can achieve this with either 'all-natural' or 'conventional' fertilizers.

Home Improvement
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