Organic Lawn Care Products

Organic Lawn Care Products You Can Feel Good About

Finally want to go organic with your lawn care? If so, you’ll be happy to know the range and effectiveness of organic lawn care products has improved a lot in recent years. There are now plenty of highly effective safe lawn care products to choose from that you can feel good about using in your yard.

In this article, I’ll talk about some of the fantastic organic lawn care products I recommend to make your lawn healthy and beautiful.

Some you may already have in your kitchen cabinets!

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Advantages of Choosing Organic Over Synthetic

Chemical lawn care products are bad for the environment and potentially dangerous to the people and animals that come into contact with them.

Why Choose Organic Lawn Care Products?

This is especially true if you have young children. Kids and pets spend more time in contact with our lawns than anyone else, and so the products you’re using can really impact their health and development.

That’s why so many of today’s homeowners want to go the organic route. And luckily, organic lawn care has benefits that go beyond making your yard safe for your family.

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Synthetic products are like candy – your lawn will gobble them up, but they feed the grass, not the soil below it.

In contrast, organic lawn care products make your soil truly healthier, giving you a stronger and more beautiful lawn that has the strength, health, and tools to take care of itself in periods of drought, heat, and stress.

Instead of just putting a band-aid over chronic problems, when you go organic you’re making your lawn more resilient and better able to deal with issues that arise.

Read the labels of the chemical products you currently have in your shed. You’ll find they all have alarming safety warnings!

It’s possible to use these products safely, but many homeowners don’t have the know-how and experience to safely apply toxic herbicides and pesticides … and even more don’t understand how to properly dispose of left over products.

Not good.

Anyway, let’s start our discussion with a short list of the types of traditional organic lawn care products.

Next, I’ll dig into some examples and share a list of some brands that do a great job of getting you the good stuff.

Types of Organic Lawn Care Products

There are many different kinds of organic lawn care products available for you to consider.

Some of them are items you might already have in your kitchen, like corn gluten, diatomaceous earth, and vinegar.

Others are a little more complicated to obtain, like cow manure (well … maybe getting that isn’t complicated, but hopefully it’s not already in your kitchen).

Types of Organic Lawn Products to Take Care of Your Yard and Family

Of course, there are also commercial brands that manufacture and offer excellent organic and plant-based lawn care products you can feel good about.

The basic categories of organic lawn control products you’ll encounter include:

  • Organic Weed Control Products
  • Organic Insect and Pest Control Products
  • Organic Lawn Fertilizers

Let’s find out about traditional organic lawn care materials. I’ll discuss each of these and give some examples below.

After that, I’ll reveal my favorite brands offering commercial organic lawn care products that are safe for your pets and kids.

Traditional Organic Weed Control

Let’s check out some of the organic weed control (both pre-emergent and post-emergent) options you have available.

  • Pre-emergent means you’re stopping weeds from growing before they emerge from the ground.
  • Post-emergent means you’re killing weeds after they’ve emerged from the ground and are already growing in your lawn.

Corn Gluten as an Organic Pre-Emergent

You can use corn gluten meal as pre-emergent weed control. While this organic substance won’t stop germination of weed seeds, it is effective in stopping those seeds from taking root.

In other words, the seeds can still germinate, but corn gluten will stop them from taking root in your lawn.

You Can Use Corn Gluten Meal as an Organic Fertilizer and Pre-Emergent Herbicide in Your Lawn to Control Weeds

If you use corn gluten for pre-emergent weed control, you need to apply it at the correct times. This is essential if you want it to be effective.

You’ll also have to apply it several times because it isn’t as long-lasting as traditional lawn pre-emergent herbicides. Weed suppression will probably only last between a month and six weeks with corn gluten meal.

Generally speaking, you should apply about 20 pounds of this material for every 1,000 square foot space on your lawn.

If that sounds like a lot, it is – and most people who have problems or claim corn gluten isn’t an effective pre-emergent don’t put down enough of it.

Timing Matters

You will need to time your applications around not only expected rain but also when you plan to water your lawn. If you don’t, your effort will be for nothing (and it might even make the situation worse).

Be aware that if there is too much moisture during this time, the weeds may be able to take root even with the corn gluten there.

Corn gluten is a great pre-emergent weed control product if you want to prevent crabgrass from taking root on your lawn.

When you apply corn gluten at the right time, any crabgrass seeds may germinate but they will be unable to take root. After that, they will die as long as the soil stays dry for a short time after the seeds germinate.

As with any pre-emergent weed control product – timing is critical. You need to get it down before weeds start to grow for it to work … otherwise it won’t do anything.

Crabgrass will start to germinate in the spring when soil temperatures reach about 55 degrees (usually about the time lilacs bloom) so you want to have it down on your lawn before that happens.

Another limitation of corn gluten is that you cannot use it as a post-emergent weed control product. In fact, putting corn gluten on a lawn with existing weeds may give the weeds more fuel.

Vinegar as a Natural Weed Killer

Vinegar is a well-known organic option for killing certain kinds of weeds. As long as the weed is susceptible, it’s an effective post-emergent weed control tool.

If you use vinegar, make sure to apply it carefully, only putting it on plants you want to kill. Even though vinegar is a natural product, it will kill just about any plant, so if you aren’t careful you can easily destroy many plants in your garden, and even your lawn grass.

You Can Use Vinegar as a Natural Weed Killer - Just Remember it Will Also Kill Lawn Grass

Many gardeners find that vinegar is more potent against weeds if you mix a bit of dishwashing liquid in it.

You can try to use regular white vinegar from your kitchen, but there are other much stronger vinegar concentrations sold as “horticultural vinegar.” If you use horticultural vinegar, be extremely cautious.

This can be hazardous if you breathe in its fumes or get it on your skin. It will also cause even more problem on your lawn if you accidentally get it on the grass or flowers.

I use and recommend this one available on Amazon in my yard. I like that it comes with a sprayer and is ready to use.

Other Natural Weed Killers I Recommend

Sunday has a natural weed control product that isn’t vinegar, but it is also very effective and OMRI listed for organic gardening.

It’s basically an herbicidal soap that eats away at the waxy coating that protects leaves from the elements and will give you results within hours. I recommend it for weed spot treatment in patios, walkways, and flower beds, but like vinegar it will kill lawn grass if applied in your lawn.

And if you want to get rid of dandelions, their Dandelion Doom product is amazing!

It’s natural concentrated iron that kills broadleaf weeds like dandelions but won’t kill your grass (your grass might turn dark green or gray for a while where it was applied, but it will recover).

Take 12% off any order you place on Sunday’s website with code LAWNCHICK2023.

Organic Pest Control

If you struggle with insects and pests in your lawn but don’t want to use insecticides or pesticides that could harm your family, there are organic options.

Insect and pest control is a great area of lawn care to use organic options, as chemical or synthetic options can be extremely harsh and dangerous, and may harm beneficial insects like pollinators.

Here are a few organic options I’ve used in my own lawn and can recommend.

Beneficial Nematodes

This organic choice is great for dealing with a lawn grub problem. Beneficial nematodes are tiny parasitic worms that won’t harm you, but can be beneficial for your garden.

You Can Use Beneficial Nematodes as a Natural Form of Pest Control in Your Lawn

Beneficial nematodes will fight many different kinds of pests, including white grubs, sod webworms, chinch bugs, weevils, cutworms, and clearwing borers.

They’re able to do this either by getting into the host and acting as a parasite, or by injecting them with lethal bacteria. They act fast and only take a day or two to do their thing, then they die off in your yard.

You’ll want to make sure your soil is quite warm and moist before you add beneficial nematodes, and since they’re alive when they are shipped to you, you’ll want to have everything you need to apply them to your lawn right away. Usually you just mix them in with water and apply them with a sprayer.

They’re microscopic, so you won’t even see them, and as I said – they’re really only interested in the insects mentioned above and aren’t harmful to people or pets.

You’re basically just introducing a short-lived, natural, and microscopic predator to the soil in your yard that will disrupt the life cycle of grubs and other undesirable insects in your lawn.

Always check the instructions that come with your beneficial nematodes and follow them to the letter for best results.

Diatomaceous Earth

I have a full list of effective lawn ant killers, but if you are looking for a natural solution to an ant problem in your lawn, check out diatomaceous earth (DE). Make sure you choose a “food-grade” variety, as other types may contain harmful substances.

Try Diatomaceous Earth as a Natural Form of Pest Control

This is a popular organic pest control method for both gardeners, homeowners, and farmers.

What is diatomaceous earth? It’s produced from prehistoric diatomic fossils that have been ground up. DE works by negatively affecting the respiratory systems of small insects and other pests.

It does this by drying out breathing hole mucous membranes, as well as the lungs of pests.

DE is effective against a wide range of insects you may have infesting your lawn. And the great thing about it is that you don’t need to worry about it affecting a mammal, as there is generally no effect. I don’t even wear gloves when applying it to areas where ants are a problem on my property.

The one word of caution I have is to be careful to avoid breathing in DE dust directly, especially if you have any kind of breathing condition, such as asthma.

Some gardeners will wear a dust mask when applying diatomaceous earth

Other kinds of DE you may find on the market often have potentially hazardous contaminates, so choose a food-grade option like this one on Amazon, which comes with its own duster to make it easier to apply.

Traditional Organic Fertilizer

There are also many organic fertilizer options available.

Here are some organic products you can use to fertilize your lawn.

Compost

Do you have a compost pile or are you willing to create one? Perhaps your town or municipality has a brush dump where they create compost that you can pick up and use for free or for a small fee (mine does – I can get full trailer loads of screened compost free of charge!).

If so, compost is an excellent organic fertilizer.

Using Compost as a Natural Lawn Fertilizer

You can use compost as a natural fertilizer by topdressing your lawn. Topdressing is a light layer that you put on top of your soil after planting grass seed, but you can also do it as a natural way to feed established grass.

When you apply compost as a top-dressing, use between a quarter and half an inch (you don’t want to smother your lawn). You can do this in the fall and spring.

A benefit of compost is how it boosts your soil’s ability to hold moisture. It also gives you lawn more nutrients – I call it black gold!

Yet another benefit of compost is how it provides food for soil microbes. The microbes it feeds are a crucial part of the process that gives your grass plants food. Without healthy microbes, your grass can’t access or utilize the nutrients in the soil – even if you fertilize your lawn with granular products.

When you have the right kind of microbes and enough of a population of them, your lawn will be transformed into a lush, thick carpet of grass.

Cow Manure

For obvious reasons (the smell), many homeowners hesitate to use cow manure on their lawns. If you (and your neighbors) don’t mind it, though, cow manure that has had time to decompose is certainly a good organic fertilizer – just ask any gardener.

Cow manure contains a plethora of useful nutrients for keeping your lawn green and healthy.

Using Cow Manure as a Natural Fertilizer for Your Lawn

If you want to use cow manure, make sure you purchase it from a reputable vendor and that you know its exact source. To apply the manure, first put it into buckets or a wheel barrow.

You will then have to use a hand rake to break up the manure, breaking down all the large clumps. You want to end up with a texture comparable to that of dry soil or screened compost.

Always wear gloves when dealing with cow manure. You will need a heavy duty spreader in order to apply the manure to your lawn.

If you don’t have a spreader, you can rent one from a lawn care equipment store. There are probably several in your area.

My Advice

The final option is to just roll up your sleeves and spread it as top-dressing by hand. I find that using a large snow shovel and broadcasting it onto the lawn is fastest, then I come back over it with a rake to make sure there’s a thin even layer across my yard that’s worked into the grass and won’t smother it.

After you have applied the manure evenly, water the lawn. You can use a sprinkler, but I like to just use a handheld sprayer so I get a nice even layer everywhere.

This will help your manure break down and get to the soil, reaching your grass’s roots.

Don’t let people or pets go on the lawn until after it is completely dry (if your dog is like mine he’ll be totally bummed that he can’t go eat this stuff).

If you want to use cow manure to keep your lawn beautiful, you’ll have to apply it regularly.

You can mix it with compost and apply it twice annually as a top-dressing with good results and no need to use more traditional fertilizers.

Organic Lawn Care Brands ( and brands with natural/organic product lines)

There are plenty of brands with great organic lawn care product lines.

Organic Lawn Care Brands and Brands with a Natural or Organic Product Line

I’ve personally tried many of the products sold by the brands I’m listing here, and I can recommend them to you with that first hand experience as a homeowner:

I’ll talk about each of these below.

Let’s get started with my top choice for organic lawn care!


Sunday

Sunday Logo

Sunday is my favorite lawn care product subscription service. You provide them with your address, and they use local data to build a customized plan for you, send you the right products, ant the right time.

One of the best things about Sunday is that it’s perfect for busy people. They offer a variety of organic products that are safe for kids, pets, and the environment.

They’re also committed to doing well by doing good, donating a portion of every sale to preserve wildlife habitats across the country.

Heads Up! Because I’m such a fan of their products (and believer in their model), I’ve partnered with Sunday to get my readers a special discount of up to 12% off their smart lawn plan or any product ordered through their website. Just use code LAWNCHICK2023 at checkout.


Lawnbox

Lawnbox Logo

If you want a subscription service that completely focuses on organic lawn care products that will work for everyone, check out Lawnbox.

One of the biggest challenges of organic lawn care is that there can be a learning curve, but not with Lawnbox. They’ve been able to create a full line of effective plant-based organic products in granular form, so you can apply them to your lawn the same way you’ve always done.

The ingredients and formulation really sets Lawnbox apart from many others in this space, and while they’re more expensive than some other options, most users (including me) are big fans of what they deliver.

All Lawnbox products are made in the USA and the company offers a Love Your Lawn Guarantee. Their parent company, The Andersons, is an established and trusted name in professional turf care. They really know their stuff.

Heads Up! Because I’m such a fan of Lawnbox, I’ve partnered with them this year to get my readers a special discount. You can take 10% off any order on their website, and a whopping 20% off your pre-paid annual subscription plan if you’re a first-time subscriber! Just use code LAWNCHICK at checkout.


Lawnbright

Lawnbright Logo

Lawnbright is another subscription service with outstanding organic lawn care products, delivered to your door.

No matter what your lawn type and needs, you can arrange for customized solution packages from Lawnbright, and I’ve been very impressed with both their shipping time and packaging quality.

This company has some unique products, such as their natural tick and mosquito control, and a liquid corn gluten meal weed control product that’s easy to apply with a hose-end sprayer.

If you’re growing a new lawn from seed, think about using their organic starter fertilizer. It will improve the quality of your soil and make sure your new lawn gets off to a great start, naturally.


Gnome

Gnome Lawncare Logo

Gnome Lawn Care is another fantastic subscription service. This company offers customized lawn care solutions. To get a sense of the current state of your lawn, order one a Gnome Soil Test Kit.

Since you’re interested in organic products, check out this brand’s Organic Lawn Fertilizer Plan. With this plan, Gnome creates an organic lawn care plan that fits your lawn in pretty much the same model as Sunday (which I recommend over Gnome, but both are good options).


Jonathan Green

Jonathan Green Logo

One of the best-known brands for grass seed and fertilizer is Jonathan Green. I’ve used this brand’s products with great success, so I can heartily and enthusiastically recommend them.

Jonathan Green has several excellent organic lawn care products. An example is the Jonathan Green Organic Lawn Food.

This fertilizer is 100% organic and it’s iron-rich to give you a spectacularly green lawn.

Another item to check out is the brand’s Organic Insect Control.

Do you have an insect problem on your lawn and want a remedy that won’t hurt birds, fish, or mammals? This product is a great organic lawn care product.

And if you’re looking for an affordable, high quality organic lawn care subscription? Jonathan Green offers several organic annual lawn plan options (one for acidic lawns and one for lawns with alkaline soil) that I highly recommend.


Espoma

Espoma Logo

The Espoma brand is well-known for its line of organic fertilizers.

Epsoma organic fertilizers are safe for pets and kids, as well as environmentally friendly. It’s the brand I regularly use in my flower and vegetable gardens with great results, but they also make some excellent organic lawn products which you can buy at Ace Hardware or on Amazon.

Another great feature is how they have a much higher level of slow-release nitrogen than most other kinds of organic fertilizer.

Their organic all season lawn food product is an excellent low-effort way to establish and maintain a healthy, beautiful lawn.


Milorganite

Milorganite Logo

One of the most popular organic fertilizer brands, Milorganite is the result of one of the longest established recycling programs in the United States.

Milorganite consists of stringently heat-dried microbes, and it has full EPA certification. These microbes have digested organic matter in wastewater.

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District produces this fertilizer.

Milorganite releases its nutrients slowly, at the perfect speed to make sure your grass has the nutrition it needs exactly when it needs it.

You don’t have to re-apply Milorganite as often as you do other kinds of organic fertilizer. In fact, you can generally go as long as 10 weeks between each application.

Slow-release fertilizers like Milorganite are much less likely to end up in waterways than other kinds of fertilizer. This attribute is one that makes is an environmentally friendly choice, as fertilizer run-off has become a big problem.

Milorganite fertilizer helps your grass establish a deeper root system, keeping it lush and green, and the extra iron will help you achieve a dark green color with your lawn. I buy mine online at Ace Hardware which I find to be the best price compared to Amazon and other retailers.

One Caveat Worth Pointing Out with Milorganite

One issue to be aware of with the use of biosolids fertilizer use is the introduction of PFAS (known as forever chemicals).

According to the manufacturer, “There is no clear indication that Milorganite fertilizer has a PFAS build-up that needs remediation. Experience has shown that PFAS concentrations in biosolids vary significantly depending on local conditions, such as the type of water supply, the presence of fire suppression training sites, and industries that manufacture or use PFAS.”

Maine (where I live) currently has the most stringent legislation regarding PFAS of any state in the U.S., and 2 of 3 Milorganite samples tested by our state were below the level of detection and the third was slightly above the level of detection … meaning there’s probably minimal risk to using Milorganite on your lawn.

Things to Consider

That said, if you’re interested in going organic with your lawn care (and if you’re reading this article I assume that you are), then weighing the benefits and risks of using a biosolids based fertilizer will definitely be important to you.

  • On the one hand – it’s a green and renewable practice to recycle biosolids from wastewater in a sustainable way rather than dumping it into landfills or incinerating it.
  • On the other hand, due to the build up in PFAS in every area of our life, there is some associated risk of fertilizing in this way because the source of the biosolids may be exposed to forever chemicals beyond the control and in spite of the best intentions of the manufacturer.

Living here in Maine I’ve been exposed to pretty devastating stories like this one which was featured in the Washington Post and this one in the Associated Press of the long-term impact of PFAS from biosolid fertilization, so it was important to me to point this out when discussing Milorganite as an organic product.

I’ve personally used it on my lawn, but don’t use it as often as I used to, and never use it in vegetable gardens or near edible garden beds.

So, Which Organic Lawn Care Products Will You Try This Year?

If there’s one thing you’ve learned here, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to organic lawn care products.

I also hope you gained an understanding of how some of these products work. It’s important to consider not only if a material is labeled as natural and/or organic, but the source of the materials used in creating these products.

Doing so will help you to create a truly safe and natural environment for you, your family, and pets (and one that aligns with your values if that’s what has guided you here).

Organic Lawn Products

Have you decided on which organic fertilizer you want to try on your lawn?

Before you go, learn about my favorite fertilizer spreaders so you have the right tools on hand to apply your organic products.

by

Sarah’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

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