Use organic, natural fertilizers on your lawn. There are many bagged, commercial varieties available at your local True Value® store or you can create your own with compost. Compost is about as natural as you can get. It enhances soil by aiding the growth of useful microbes, neutralizing soil pH and supplying nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. And, you don’t necessarily have to purchase it—you can make it yourself.
Start a compost pile by collecting waste from inside and outside your home. You will add to the pile over time—it can take up to two to three months to fully process if you consistently maintain it. You can use things like grass clippings, vegetable and fruit scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds and plant trimmings. These are key composting ingredients because they provide nitrogen. Combine these types of items with a small amount of soil or a compost starter that contains enzymes and other stimulants to help the compost decompose as fast as possible. You will then need to add items such as dry leaves, finely chopped wood and bark chips, shredded newspaper or straw. These types of items provide carbon. Be sure the soil is mixed well with the other matter. You will need to regularly turn the compost with a pitchfork or shovel to move material from the edges to the inside, allowing necessary aeration, as well as water it.
When the pile has a dark brown, moist and earthy consistency and smell, it is ready for use. The compost particles should be fine or small and grainy in order to be spread on your lawn.
Do not add animal waste, meats, oils, dairy, diseased plants, weeds or plants treated with pesticides or herbicides to your compost.
Find or purchase earthworms and add them to your compost pile to accelerate decomposition.
Use a compost tumbler. It will provide a place to store your compost as well as aerate it. The tumbler rolls, tossing the compost around on the inside, letting air in and out, which is beneficial to the decomposition process.
Fertilize your lawn at the very least once a year. Ideally though, you should fertilize at least twice—once in the fall, at the end of the growing season and once in the spring before growing season. Some lawns may require an application in the middle of the growing season.
Fill a wheelbarrow with compost and shovel the compost out onto your grass. Spread it out evenly across your yard using a rake. Then water your lawn thoroughly. Wait for a few days to a week before you mow.
When using a package organic fertilizer, read the label for proper application times, amounts and conditions. Apply only as directed. Use a broadcast spreader to apply your fertilizer since it will cover the most area—evenly and quickly. Pour the recommended amount of fertilizer into the spreader hopper. Apply the fertilizer in the same way you would mow. Using a sidewalk, driveway or other non-grass surface as a guide and starting point, begin pushing the spreader parallel to the surface and work your way across the lawn. Turn at each end of the lawn and direct the spreader alongside the row you just completed so that coverage almost overlaps. The fertilizer drops from the hopper and is dispersed as you move. Keep a slow, steady pace. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for exact directions on how to use your spreader. Many models allow you to set the amount that is dispersed. Check the fertilizer package to verify the recommended spreader setting to ensure that you don’t over-fertilize your grass.
After applying the fertilizer, water the lawn immediately with a garden hose, unless directed otherwise by the package instructions. Clean out fertilizer residue from your spreader with a garden hose, taking care to prevent the runoff from flowing into nearby soil or drains.