If you’re like most homeowners, you want to have a lush, green lawn and well-maintained garden without having to spend a lot of time or money. That’s where an effective fertilizer can be a huge help. There is a lot of information out there about the best fertilizers for your lawn and garden. But, with all of the different types of fertilizer on the market, it can be hard to know which one to choose.
In this blog post, we’ll talk about the best fertilizers for your lawn and garden this year, and explain why they are so effective. We’ll also discuss different types of fertilizers and how to use them properly. We will also look at some popular brands and models and what makes them stand out from the competition. So whether you’re just getting started with gardening or you’ve been doing it for years, read on to learn more about the best fertilizers for your needs!
What Is Fertilizer?
Fertilizer is any material, either made from synthetic or organic substances, that you add to the soil or plant tissue so that it can provide nutrients for the plants. The best fertilizers will help feed your lawn and garden with essential minerals in order to grow healthy plants. There are many different types of fertilizer, and they are used in a wide variety of situations.
In the past, fertilizer was made up of primarily organic substances, such as both animal and human manure, compost, harvested minerals, and crop rotations. In the last few centuries, synthetic fertilizers have become prevalent as well, and particularly fertilizers composed mainly of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
How Does It Work?
Fertilizers encourage the growth of plants. They do this in two ways. The first is to provide nutrients that the plants need and can use to grow. Fertilizers provide mainly nitrogen, which encourages leaf growth, phosphorus, which develops the roots, flowers, seeds, and fruit, and potassium, which promotes stem growth, the movement of water within the plants, and flowering and fruiting.
There are three secondary macronutrients – calcium, magnesium, and sulfur, as well as many micronutrients such as copper, iron, manganese, zinc, and boron.
The second function that some fertilizers may have is to improve the soil’s ability to retain moisture and support aeration. However, this is not very common and is negligible in relation to the nutrient addition fertilizers provide.
Types of Garden Fertilizers
There are multiple types of garden fertilizers. The three main kinds are granule fertilizers, liquid fertilizers, and fertilizer spikes.
Many of the best fertilizers for your home landscape will come in one or more of these three forms. It is important to know that each option has its own benefits and weaknesses, so choosing the right type can help you improve your garden’s health
If you’re looking at granules, liquids or spikes as a possible option for fertilizing your yard this year, it may be helpful to know what each type does differently. Each type of fertilizer can come as organic or inorganic.
Gardeners either incorporate fertilizer granules into the soil at planting or “top dress” them on. Simply put, top dressing means sprinkling the granules over the plant’s root zone. You can get either slow-release or quick-release granule fertilizers. Slow-release granular fertilizers, also known as “monthly feedings,” release nutrients gradually over time. Quick-release granular fertilizers, often known as “weekly applications,” deliver nutrients more quickly but in smaller doses.
Granular fertilizers must be mixed into the dirt manually but can last much longer than liquid types which need reapplication every few weeks. You can use a fertilizer spreader to distribute the fertilizer safely and evenly over your lawn.
Liquid fertilizers include dry granules and liquid concentrates that must be mixed. They are made up of either inorganic or organic compounds. Spraying the roots of seedlings, vegetable plants, and other types of plants is an effective way to feed them. Over-watering seeds can cause them to wilt and die; in many cases, applying liquid fertilizer directly to plant leaves may be more successful than soaking the roots. This type of fertilizer starts to effect the plant immediately.
Liquid fertilizers are often diluted with water before being applied to soil so they don’t create potentially harmful runoff when not used properly.
Fertilizer Spikes act like slow-release fertilizers, releasing a constant flow of nutrients over time. The spikes, which have a low-profile design, are the most efficient way to deliver fertilizer to the roots of your plants. The nutrients are released, and the plants are automatically fertilized, when they’re watered with rain or with a hose. Simply plant them next to a living plant, once per year, and that’s all there is to it.
Fertilizer spikes provide immediate nutrient release by running along roots where they’re needed and can be used on most landscape types. These fertilizers are also made with either organic or inorganic materials. Calculate the amount of spikes required for a plant based on its size and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Place the spikes evenly around the plant’s root zone and push them into the soil.
Organic vs. Inorganic Fertilizers
Regardless what type of fertilizer you use, it will either be inorganic or organic. These two subsets of fertilizer differ on two levels – they use different ingredients and the nutrients get introduced to the plants in different ways.
Synthetic or commercial fertilizers are the most common type of inorganic fertilizer. These fertilizers are often known as manufactured fertilizers because they are produced through chemical synthesis; nevertheless, the majority of them include nutrients from naturally occurring mineral deposits. These fertilizers are highly concentrated and directed at exactly what the plants needs and nothing more.
Inorganic or artificial fertilizers are produced from the chemical compounds of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that have been synthesized in industrial processes. These then contain primarily one or more of these ingredients in high concentrations, and focus on providing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to the plants.
Compost, manures, blood meal, alfalfa, cottonseed, and kelp meal, and bone meal are all examples of organic fertilizers, which come mainly from plant and animal sources. The NPK levels in these fertilizers are usually lower than inorganic ones, but vital organic matter is added to the soil, which enhances moisture movement and works in tandem with living microorganisms in the soil to nourish plants.
Click here for our list of the best organic fertilizers for your lawn and garden!
Another interesting consideration when comparing different types of fertilizers is how they react in wet conditions. Organic products typically break down more quickly than their synthetic counterparts do, so if you have an area where water may pool after rainstorms, you may want to stick with synthetic, quick-acting products.
Key Shopping Considerations
Here are a few factors to consider when shopping for fertilizers.
One of the most important factors when choosing fertilizer is nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (N-P-K) ratios because these are necessary for plant growth. Your goal should be to find a ratio that matches what your plant needs based on its species type’s requirements.
Before applying fertilizer, it’s usually ideal to conduct a soil test to determine your garden soil’s natural fertility. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service to obtain a soil sample for testing. The findings will show which elements your soil may require, so you can add them in the form of fertilizer.
Fertilizer products tend to list the NPK ingredients on the bag in a ratio format, like 10-10-10 or 4-3-4. The number list is always in the sequence N-P-K.
Nitrogen is the main necessary compound for leaf growth. Phosphorus develops the roots, flowers, seeds, and fruit. And potassium promotes stem growth, the movement of water within the plants, and flowering and fruiting.
Slow Release vs. Quick Release
Slow-release fertilizer should keep plants nourished for an entire growing season, as long as it is properly applied. This fertilizer can be either organic or inorganic, though it is more commonly organic. Organic slow-release fertilizer is broken down by soil microbiota and made available to plants. Manufacturers design slow-release inorganic fertilizer pellets to dissolve gradually as water passes through the soil. Because these fertilizers take time to act and are slow-releasing, they should be used in the fall and worked into soil once more.
Inorganic fertilizers can also be quick-release. This kind of fertilizer permeates completely into the soil in just a few weeks, providing your plants with a fast supply of nutrients. Quick release fertilizers should be applied multiple times, up to every two weeks, throughout the growing seasons.
Different sorts of plants, as well as those at various phases of development, require different nutritional levels. Are you starting a new flower, vegetable, or herb garden? Perhaps you can use a starter fertilizer to help the young plants get established in their new location.
Do your azaleas, gardenias, camellias, or blueberries seem to be withering away? Give them a boost with a fertilizer specifically made for acid-loving plants. Plants that bloom and fruit require higher phosphorus plant food, and plants grown for foliage require more nitrogen.
These are all thoughts you should be having before purchasing a fertilizer for your backyard plant life.
Fertilizers help plants grow healthy and produce fruit. But the question always is how much should you purchase? The frequency with which you fertilize your plants is determined on the type of soil you have and whether they’re in containers or raised beds. Most plants that thrive in porous, well-drained soil or in pots require more frequent feeding, usually every three weeks to a month during the growing season. Clay soil is often less demanding on plants when it comes to fertilizer. After planting, one dose every four to six weeks should be sufficient.
Granular fertilizer will often go further than liquid fertilizer. Examine how much area one bag or bottle covers against the square footage of your garden beds to determine how much fertilizer you’ll require. This will tell you how much fertilizer your plants will require throughout the year.
The 6 Best Fertilizers For Your Lawn And Garden
Now that you know the ins and outs of what separates fertilizers from one another, do you have an idea which might be best for your landscape? Here are six options that may fit the bill this year.
#1. Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food
- Full of essential nutrients, it instantly feeds to grow bigger, more beautiful plants versus unfed plants
- Feed every 1-2 weeks
- Use with the Miracle-Gro Garden Feeder or any watering can
The Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food is the best fertilizer currently out there. This quick-release fertilizer is rich in essential nutrients and minerals, and it rapidly feeds veggies, trees, shrubs, and houseplants to create bigger and more beautiful than plants that haven’t been fertilized. The NPK ratio is 24-8-16.
The solution is safe for all plants and does not cause burns when used as directed. It’s safe for children, pets, and the environment. It works on all flowers, vegetables, houseplants, roses, and even trees and shrubbery. Simply feed your plants once every 1 to 2 weeks.
#2. Botanicare Cal-Mag Plus Plant Supplement
The Botanicare Cal-Mag Plus Plant Supplement is next on our list of the best fertilizers for your lawn and garden. This fertilizer is actually more of a supplement that provides critically overlooked minerals. It has a 2-0-0 NPK ratio, but has highly concentrated and fortified calcium, magnesium, and iron plant supplements, so this would be a perfect fertilizer to combine with another organic or inorganic NPK-based fertilizer.
Simply use this supplement with every watering as needed; mix it in thoroughly and adjust the pH level accordingly before use. You can also use it in a spray bottle to spray the leaves directly and enhance foliar growth. You can use Botanicare in coco coir, containers, and hydrogardens in addition to regular soil and garden beds.
#3. Dr. Earth Home Grown Organic Fertilizer
- For more nutritious and tasty vegetables
- Optimum levels of primary plant nutrients
- Contains no GMOs, chicken manure or sewage sludge
The Dr. Earth Home Grown Organic Fertilizer is our favorite organic fertilizer, and it is formulated to feed any kind of plant and crop you have. It works on both summer and winter crops, and in vegetable gardens, container plants, and natural lawn soil. It is non-GMO and safe for pets and children as it has no synthetic chemicals. This fertilizer has a 4-6-3 NPK ratio.
Dr. Earth Fertilizer is made with 100% natural and organic ingredients, and it is both quick and slow release – nutrients are released into the soil quickly, but it feed consistently for several months. It also contains eight distinct types of Ecto and Endo Mycorrhizae, all of which contribute to drought tolerance, improved nutrient availability, and increased plant performance.
#4. Vigoro Tomato and Vegetable Garden Plant Food Plus Calcium
Next on our list of the best garden fertilizers is the Vigoro Tomato and Vegetable Garden Plant Food Fertilizer. With an NPK ratio of 12-10-5, this fertilizer promotes fast and vigorous plant and vegetable growth, as well as high crop yields.
It also comes with added calcium, which helps to prevent both blossom-end rot and splitting, and overall helps grow fruit and vegetables of a higher quality. It works the first time or you can get your money back!
#5. Jobe’s 09426 Granular Rose & Flower Plant Food Fertilizer
- Organic granular fertilizer; Fast acting fertilizer for roses; Formulated for more abundant beautiful flowers
- OMRI listed for organic gardening by USDA; Certified organic means no synthetic chemicals
- Contains Jobe’s Biozome…the proprietary microorganism archaea that aggressively breaks down material for faster results
The Jobe’s 09426 Granular Rose & Flower Plant Food Fertilizer is a fantastic organic granule-based fertilizer. It is specially formulated with Jobe’s BioZome technology, which contains three different microorganisms: bacteria, mycorrhizal fungi, and a unique species of Archaea. During the growing season, this BioZome provides better soil conditions, resistance to disease, insects and drought. Its NPK ratio is 3-5-3.
This specific Jobe’s fertilizer is best for flowers and other blossoming plants, and it can be used at any stage of the plant growth process. It can be used to prepare soil for planting, or when the seeds and flowers are brand new, or when your garden is already full of established roses and flowers. Simply apply it every 4 to 6 weeks or as needed.
#6. Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food Fertilizer
- Promotes vigorous top-growth, strong root development
- A must-have for vegetable gardeners
- Ideal for perennials
The Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food Fertilizer has a nutrient-rich formula that can feed plants for up to 4 months. It can be used with any edible plants, as well as bedding transplants, bulbs, and even trees and shrubs. The NPK ratio is 14-14-14, and these essential nutrients are kept in a smart-release semi-permeable resin that allows water inside of the granules and releases at a relatively low soil temperature to give the plants an earlier start in the spring season.
All you have to do is sprinkle it over your plants and mix it into the soil and be sure to water it on a regular basis. You don’t have to reapply for up to 4 months at a time.
So, what are the best fertilizers to use in your lawn and garden? The answer to that question largely depends on a few key factors. For example, do you want a fast-acting or slow-release fertilizer? Are you looking for organic or inorganic products? Do you need granule, liquid, spikes or both types of fertilizer? When it comes to choosing the right type of product for your space and needs, there is no one size fits all solution.
You’ll have to choose based on how much time and money you have available as well as which plants will be receiving the fertilizer treatment. With so many options out there today from brands like the Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food, which is our recommendation, as well as Scotts Turf Builder All Purpose Fertilizer, Botanicare, Dr. Earth and more, you can find the best fertilizer for your lawn and garden in 2022 that will keep them green now and into the future! Good luck with all your future lawn care endeavors.