What is the best natural lawn fertilizer?

Manure should be well composted before being applied to your lawn

I am often asked questions like this one. “What is the best natural fertilizer for your lawn? I would like to use something that I would not have to worry if it would burn up my lawn if to much was applied. What do you think about 10-10-10 fertilizer?”

10-10-10 is a great all purpose fertilizer when used in moderation. But it is not ‘natural’. It can certainly burn your lawn or plants if it is over applied. It can also actually do harm your soil if too much is used.

As far as a great natural fertilizer, Compost and composted cow manure are great. However, most people don’t have access to the volume necessary to effectively cover their lawn surface. If you are one of the lucky ones that do, be sure the manure is thoroughly composted or it too can burn your lawn. But once it has mellowed, it is harmless (except for the weed seeds) and very high in nitrogen and soil building properties.

A packaged product that I really like as a natural fertilizer is Milorganite. You can read more about this product on their website.


Joe Lamp'l is the Host and Executive Producer of the award winning PBS television series Growing A Greener World. Off camera, Joe dedicates his time to promoting sustainability through his popular books, Compost Confidential blog, podcast series, and nationally syndicated newspaper columns. Follow Joe on Twitter

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  1. Tim says

    Milorganite is ok, but it makes your lawn smell like a dead corpse in rotting in your backyard. This lasted for a week and a half, then went away. Is there a fertilizer that is natural , and is a hidden secret?

    • says

      Tim, I don’t know of a good organic fertilizer that you can buy and spread by the bag that is as readily available as Milorganite. Yes, it has a unique smell that is temporary. I don’t mind it but I can see where it will get your attention if you’re not used to it. But it does indeed go away in a couple days. Otherwise, I suggest buying compost in bulk to get enough to spread over an entire yard. Then either spread it yourself shovel by shovel or hire a truck or service that has a system that can basically blow it out over your entire yard through a big hose. They would bring out a truck with the compost and distribute that way for you.

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