Organics, All or Nothing?

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by aclane2000, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. aclane2000

    aclane2000 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    I'm intending on doing more organic lawn care for my mowing clients and I've heard that it should be an all or nothing thing. The reasoning is that synthetic fertilizers kill the biology in the soil, while the whole purpose of Organic style lawn care is to boost and nurture life in the soil and they will, in turn, nurture the plant life.

    Even if I'm using a slow release fertilizer should I still expect that it's harming the good stuff in the soil? Is there a certain element in fertilizers that does the damage and I just need watch out for it? Is there a happy medium between all natural and synthetic?

    Thanks in advance for any advice!
  2. dKoester

    dKoester LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,395

    Salt!!! Its the problem.
  3. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,161

    Too much salt is the problem. Fertilizers high in organic matter blended with small amounts of urea, ammonium sulfate, SCU will provide good results with little negative impact on soil biology.
  4. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,808

    Maybe you need a hybrid or "bridge" program. Avoid muriate of potash--go with potassium sulfate. Use only plastic-coated slow release fertilizer; at least 50 percent coated; 70 to 100 percent coated is better. Blend this with an organic fert--Barry at Phasthound can help you there. You may wish to go with 100 percent organic slow-release during the hot summer months. Organic is non-burning, restores the soil biology and may reduce disease. Of course, if you want to kill weeds or chinchbugs, you need a license.

    You may want to add aeration and/or sowing of high-quality disease-resistant seed during whatever season is suitable for that in Austin. Overseeding of Bermuda with perennial rye in fall is also a possibility. And during those tough years maybe offer to do the green dye for grass, (messy, but nice profit).
  5. NattyLawn

    NattyLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,643

    You don't need to have an "all or nothing" approach to use organics. Just changing to an organic based fertilizer will do a lot to help the soil biology. There are plenty of little things you can do to make a better lawn care program without going completely organic. It would be nice, but not practical for everyone.
  6. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,320

    It's interesting that this question came up because I'm having this very conversation with someone via e-mail. I'm one who takes the all or nothing approach. If synthetic fertilizers are harmful, then they are harmful. "Here buddy, the drink's on me. I only put a little poison in it."
    Do you believe in organic fertilization or don't you? My concern with crutch products (for the industry) is that too many guys will use crutch products and say to themselves "Hey, I'm using some organics." And, once comfortable, will never throw off the crutches and walk the organic walk.
  7. NattyLawn

    NattyLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,643

    It's an overwhelming fact that people don't like change. If it's one step at a time, I think we should take it. When they see something work they will be more open to other products.
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    The most important thing about organics is the health of the soil. Salts are a possible problem, but in sandy agricultural fields, that use only synthetic ferts, they are able to keep on improving the plant health and harvest.

    Irrigating the desert, has demonstrated problems with salt buildup, but salts also wash away or time. I thought they floated in the water, but they also dissolve and end up in the ground water, along with the nitrites.

    So as one increases organic matter and reduce the salt input, it is difficult to believe that most soils will be affected that much.
  9. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335

    Don't bet on it.


  10. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,320

    Yes, that is a valid point but I don't plan to take that approach.

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