Most homeowners who take care of their lawn know about Milorganite and Scotts. They are both very well known brands in the world of lawn care and each company provides quality products to target different issues that one may face when maintaining their lawns. Among these products, both Scotts and Milorganite have their own fertilizer programs which aim to optimize lawn health, and in today’s Milorganite vs Scotts article I’ll cover the pros and cons of using each product on your lawn, why you may choose one over another, and more.
To be more specific, I will be comparing the formulas and procedures of the popular Scotts 4-Step Fertilizer Program, to the Milorganite Fertilizer program (which I recommend you apply 4 times each year for optimal results).
By the end of the article you should feel confident about which fertilizer program will ultimately be better for your lawn and understand why it will work well for you.
Let’s get right into it.
Milorganite vs Scotts (brand & product information)
Before we compare Scotts 4-Step to Milorganite in terms of their composition and efficacy, let’s go through a brief background as to what each product is and what each brand has to offer.
The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District manufacturers Milorganite fertilizer. Their primary focus is producing fertilizer in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner, which I love.
Milorganite is a brand that took part in one of the nation’s oldest recycling efforts, and they are able to process sewage and create a safe and effective slow-release fertilizer that you can use on your lawn, flowers, and even in your edible garden with great results.
Milorganite is an organic product that turns sewage waste from the city of Milwaukee into some of the best organic lawn fertilizer you’ll find on the market.
A wide range of gardening and lawn care products live under the umbrella of the Scotts Lawn Care brand. This includes Scotts Miracle-Gro.
Scotts is a leading manufacturer for lawn care products ranging from grass seeds and fertilizers, to a variety of different lawn equipment such as broadcast spreaders (which you probably know about) and mowers and other power equipment (which you may not know about yet).
One of their most well known products is the Scotts 4-Step Fertilizer Program. The Program provides 4 distinct packages that, when used in that order, can yield incredible results for your lawn.
Scotts products are popular in large part because of their availability, and the millions they spend each year on advertising. You’ll see Scotts products in hardware and big box stores, and they’re also available online.
Homeowners love the Scotts 4-Step program because it takes the guesswork out of lawn care. It’s a great choice for homeowners who want to improve their lawn and aren’t super particular about staying organic.
Milorganite vs Scotts 4 Step (formulas & application)
Both brands use different formulas, ratios, and have different application methods in terms of how to distribute their lawn fertilizer products.
This includes both application rate, and application schedule.
I’ll get into the details here so you can start to get a sense about which may work better with your lifestyle.
As I mentioned earlier, Milorganite uses microbes to supply plants and soil with the nutrients they need.
Basically, the product is what’s left when its manufacturer takes waste and recycled water, filters out any harsh contaminants, and places the microbes in the water in order to absorb the nutrients from the water.
The microbes are pressed to get rid of excess water. Finally, the manufacturer heat-treats them to kill any bacteria so it’s safe to use on your lawn and in your garden.
It’s a slow-release fertilizer with some Iron (which helps your lawn achieve a dark green color when applied). This means that it’s a fertilizer you can apply without risk of burning sections of your lawn or killing your grass, even if you spill a little or apply more than you should.
In this way it’s pretty much a fool-proof option that will give you good results, guaranteed.
Application Schedule & Efficacy
As with most fertilizers, Milorganite should be used on your lawn about 4 times in a year. I have an article which details when you should apply Milorganite depending upon where you live.
Unlike other fertilizers, Milorganite really works with the weather conditions, the plant conditions, and the already existing conditions of your soil.
Since Milorganite is slow release, there are no guarantees that you will see results right away. Synthetic, man-made fertilizers give you quick results because they are immediately accessible to grass. Basically synthetic fertilizers feed your grass, and organic fertilizers feed your soil.
When you apply Milorganite you’re playing the long game. You’ll see greener, stronger grass in a few weeks, but in a few years the results of regular application can be truly amazing.
This is because Milorganite begins to regulate with your soil and only releases nutrients when the roots need them.
Certain temperatures and moisture levels trigger this. When your lawn begins to need food, Milorganite is there to feed your grass.
Scotts 4-Step Fertilizer Program
The Scotts 4-Step Fertilizer Program is exactly what the name entails, a 4-step fertilizer and herbicide package that is designed to feed your lawn, block your weeds, and take the decisions out of lawn care so you can just enjoy your lawn.
Each step in the program has different ingredients and serves different purposes to target different problems that are common among homeowners, and they have different products tailored to different parts of the country (for example, there’s a 4-step program for southern lawns, the pacific northwest, etc.).
Nutrients common among all 4 steps include the big 3: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
The 4 steps include:
- Crabgrass Preventer
- Weed Control
- Lawn Food with 2% iron
- Fall Lawn food
Each step is to be applied at the correct time of year in your area to see the full effects of the program.
Step 1: Crabgrass Preventer
Step 1 of the Scotts 4-Step Fertilizer Program is a crabgrass preventer. Crabgrass is a grassy weed that sprawls out and grows laterally, smothering your turfgrass.
By using Step 1, the germination and growth of crabgrass can be prevented.
Apply Step 1 between the months of February and April (your local weather and season timing will dictate what date is right for you).
Generally, this step should be applied when the temperature is still under 80 degrees Fahrenheit (early spring, before annual crabgrass seeds begin to germinate from warmer temperatures).
RELATED: Best Spring Lawn Fertilizers
Step 2: Weed Control
While crabgrass can be prevented by using Step 1, there are other weeds that can sprout after the spring season.
These include dandelions and other broadleaf weeds.
Apply Step 2 4-6 weeks after Step 1. This product includes the addition of lawn food to support faster growth of healthy grass in your lawn.
This combination of fertilizer and weed treatment is regularly called “weed and feed” in the industry.
Step 3: Lawn Food with 2% Iron
Step 3 of the Scotts program is a “mid-season boost” for lawns.
This fertilizer product from Scotts adds additional strength to your lawn and prevents yellowing of grass in the summer heat with the 2% iron (you’ll recognize that strategy from Milorganite, which contains 2.5% iron in every bag).
In order to combat drought and heat, this step should be applied during the dog days of summer.
Step 4: Fall Lawn Food
This is the final boost to combat weeds, drought, and heat after the lawn has been strengthened.
It also will give your lawn what it needs to sustain itself through dormancy over the winter.
Feeding your lawn in the fall can strengthen it, allowing your yard to come back strong the following spring.
This step should be applied after an additional 4-6 weeks, in early fall.
Which Costs More? Milorganite or Scotts 4-Step
A 32 pound bag of Milorganite is designed to provide 2,500 square feet of coverage for your lawn. So most properties will need multiple bags per application.
The Scotts 4-Step Program comes in a 4-bag kit that is sized for small (5,000 square feet), medium (10,000 square feet) or large (15,000 square feet) lawns.
You can use one of these online tools to measure your lawn square footage and determine how much you’ll need to order of each product and do a true price comparison for your property.
The Scotts 4 Step Program tends to be a little cheaper over the course of a season in my experience, but your mileage may vary depending upon local prices (if you try to get the products separately from local stores vs ordering online).
Milorganite vs Scotts – Can I Use Them Together?
It’s been said before (by me, and others) that lawn care is not “one size fits all.” There are many effective approaches that work for different lawns.
It’s important to understand that your lot is a microclimate that is unique. Nobody else has your exact sun and shade conditions, your precise grass, weather conditions, soil composition, etc.
Effective lawn care is really about learning your yard’s composition and needs. Pay close attention, test your soil every year (I use this kit from Amazon for my lawn). With time, you’ll learn what works best for your yard.
Both Milorganite and Scotts are great brands for lawn care, so why not use both?
Well, one important factor to note is that there is such a thing as over-fertilization.
The last thing you want to do is spend money on fertilizer and end up burning or killing your lawn. If your lawn has plenty of nitrogen, the last thing you want to spend money on is more nitrogen fertilizer. Your money may be better spent on an Iron supplement to green up your healthy grass.
Too much of a single product is rarely ever good. But what you can do is use Milorganite fertilizer with one of the weed prevention products under the Scotts 4-step fertilizer program. This way you’re going natural and delivery a healthy, slow-release product to feed your lawn. The herbicides you use on your lawn will be effective and proven to work from Scotts line of products.
This will allow you to target specific issues such as crabgrass and other weeds. You’ll also fuel the soil that your lawn needs to survive with an eco-friendly organic product.
Just be mindful of the seasons and when you should be applying each product.
And if you’re applying Milorganite and a Scotts pre-emergent at the same time, make two separate passes with your fertilizer spreader. This way the coverage is even and you can adjust the settings to reflect the size of the granules in each product.
The Verdict (is Milorganite or Scotts right for you?)
When I or anyone else compares Milorganite vs Scotts, please note that neither product is bad for your lawn. Each one is a quality brand that has earned its popularity in the lawn care industry.
Both Milorganite and Scotts 4-Step Program have their distinct advantages. You’ll need to look at those, consider your goals, and choose which is best for you.
If you are looking for a foolproof remedy where you just have to follow the instructions, then the Scotts 4-Step Fertilizer Program is probably your best choice. This solution is straightforward and easy to use. It’s popular for a reason.
However, if you are looking for an organic fertilizer where you can build and care for your lawn from the ground up (without having to worry about pets or kids playing in your yard), then I recommend Milorganite fertilizer for its organic and eco-friendly composition.
When it comes down to it, organic substances are better in terms of caring for the earth, and that’s what has guided me toward using Milorganite in my yard. I apply it four times annually, aerate and overseed my lawn and top-dress it with screened compost in the fall, apply a pre-emergent in the spring, and I’ve had great results.
But again – lawn care is about your budget, time, values, and goals and only you can determine what’s the right choice for you and your lawn.
Hopefully this article has helped you get a little closer to figuring that out.
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