Fertilizer mumbo jumbo

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by LarryF, Apr 14, 2006.

  1. LarryF

    LarryF LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,171

    If anyone can lend me a hand, it will be appreciated. Yeah, I know the numbers pertain to to available nitrogen, avalilable phosphate, and soluble potash, but why are there so many different blends available? One supplier alone, Lesco, has 369 different fertilizer products listed on its web site, and there must be dozens of firms that market lawn fertilizer. Why there are so many choices really baffles me. I started out to buy some today but got lost on the way. I was thinking of 18-24-12 because someone had mentioned that was appropriate as "starter" fertilizer and to be applied when seeding. But Lesco has no less than 9 item numbers identified as 18-24-12 on its web site and, ironically, none specify that it should be used for starting a lawn. But just focusing on 2 of those 9, the following info is what was provided.

    Item 500097 - 18-24-12 *W* 50%PPSCU SOP/MOP $23.06 per 50# bag

    Item 500397 - 18-24-12 50%PPSCU SOP *W* $6.20 per 50# bag

    Does anyone know what the difference is, other than that one costs almost 4 times as much as the other. Notice that the item numbers are very similar. Home Depot also sells a Lesco 18-24-12 (about $18 fior 50#) which is identified as "Starter" fertilizer and it has an item number 052405, but that number doesn't show up on Lesco's web site, so I guess Lesco makes even more products that it sells through it's own distributors.

    Another comparison -- Scotts has a slightly under 50# bag of starter fertilizer (29-27-5) for about $32.

    So my question is, will I get about the same results if I use the $6.20 stuff? And if not, what should I look out for.
  2. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,157

    just becasue you see it on Lesco's web site does not mean that they will have it in the store. They just don't have that much room for all those products, as some products pertian to warm season, some to cool seaston, some to bermuda, some to fescue, ect...

    in some cases the price difference can be part based on particle size, or the amount of micro nutrients, or how much of the product is slow release.

    inthis case #97 has 4.8% sulfur and 4.5% max Chlorine and the 397 has 7% sulfur and 2% max chlorine.. if you needed to acid up your soil a little bit, #397 would help....maybe #97 a newer product and they are phasing out 397 hence the cheap price...Just guessing...
  3. LarryF

    LarryF LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,171

    Your point is well taken. I visited one yesterday and was surprised at how small the place was.

    I don't feel too comfortable with your other explanation, however. I only focused on the two versions of 18-24-12 that had similar item numbers and descriptions, but there were others, and one of them was even less expensive.

    026659 - 18-24-12 50%MOP/SOP FL $5.92 per 50# bag

    4.85 % sulfur
    4.6 % chlorine

    And in this case the sulfur & chlorine percentages were about the same as the $23.06 one I mentioned before. So it still seems like mumbo jumbo to me, and if anyone else out there can clarify the disparity in prices for products that look very similar, I would appreciated it.

    I guess the difference between $6 and $23 isn't very much, but I have at least an acre of grass over which I have spread the high-price Scotts Turfbuilder for years, have spent more than a thousand bucks doing it. I don't really see that I have much to show for it. I know that I have to fertilize a lawn continually, but I've been doing it sort of blindly. If I can do it for less than 10 bucks a bag, why should I spend more than 30.
  4. lilmarvin4064

    lilmarvin4064 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 757

    It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to get a hold of any of those fertilizers at $6 a bag. They’re most likely discontinued and I doubt you’ll find a store that has any left.

    PPSCU = Poly Plus sulfur coated urea (% of slow release nitrogen)
    MOP = muriate of potash, or potassium chloride (salty potash)
    SOP = sulfate of potash, or potassium sulfate (acidic potash)
    *W* = Lesco’s international product line (unlikely to be registered by the EPA in the US)
    FL = Florida…….this product is only available in Florida.

    You should have your soil tested to what your soil pH is and the potassium levels in the soil (K). Scotts fertilizers have very little K (the last number).
  5. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    By the way, I believe that you’ll find two sets of numbers at Home Depot. One number is their own item number that they use for their inventory control, while the other number would be the actual product manufacturers number. Not long ago I ran into the same problem but later noticed that I had written down the incorrect number.
  6. LarryF

    LarryF LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,171

    You might be right, but how would I know? It's a number Lesco put on it when they manufactured the bag, and the last few digits are the same as the barcode. I had presumed it was a Lesco item number. I bought a bag but haven't opened it yet. Attached is a photo of the number. Maybe someone can tell me.

    lilmarvin4064, how do I go about getting the soil tested? Is this something I can do by myself, or do I have to have someone come over to my property? If someone else does the testing, is there a standard format for the report, and if so, what does it look like? And then the BIG question is...How do I convert those test results into a recommendation of specifically what fertilizer I should buy, keeping in mind that a company like Lesco had 9 different versions of one blend of nitrogen, phosphate and potash? Assuming I were to state that I wanted to use Lesco products, would the recommendation zero in on precisely which of its 369 fertilizer products I should use?

    Lesco fertilizer from HD.jpg
  7. LarryF

    LarryF LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,171

    Wow, you got that right. At least for the store near me. I guess you've been down this road before, but dealing with Lesco is all new to me. Until you mentioned your skepticism of actually finding the product, I didn't think to question its availability and I didn't realize I could check each store's inventory over the web. The fact of the matter is that now that I have checked, the Lesco store nearest me doesn't carry any 18-24-12 fertilizer at all. Looks like Home Depot is the only place I can get it, and the price, by the way, was $18.87 for 50#. Seems to be better than most of the Lesco quoted prices if I could have gotten any of the ones listed.

    Thanks for the comment. Looks like Lesco doesn't really have as many different fertilizer products as I thought from my first glance.
  8. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    When you look at items on the Home Depot website, such as fertilizer, you get an Internet number, a catalog number, a “Store In-Stock” number, and a model number. Holy smokes, no wonder people get confused! I’m looking at their Vigoro Turf Starter fertilizer and they don’t even list the weight of the bag. Maybe they just figure, “if one doesn’t work, try the other…”
  9. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    Oh, there are numerous places that sell soil test kits with prices ranging from several dollars to undoubtedly well over ten time that. More than likely you could find something available in your immediate area.
  10. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,157

    lesco can do soil tests. 20-30 bucks....I usually do em every couple years on campus....

    You also have to remember, many landscapers are putting down their spring apps right now and its possible for lesco to be a little thin in the supply area....

    What kind of grass do you have, and you seem to be hung up on the 18-24-12, how did you come up with that formulation of fert....? Just curious. not knockin...

    Lesco can also help you figure out. based on a soild test a program for you...

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