On May 6 we fertilized our lawn with Milorganite natural fertilizer. As I write this post, it’s July 18 so it’s been long enough to really evaluate our results. And all I can say is that this stuff is AWESOME! Throw in every other superlative you can think of and you might approximate our delight with this wonderful product.
What We LOVE About Milorganite
#1: It’s a natural fertilizer, rather than a chemical one. Have you ever read those alarming warnings on chemical fertilizers? I have and they’ve always made me uneasy. After all, I’m walking in this stuff, the wind is blowing it on me and I’m breathing it in, none of which can be healthy.
Milorganite is actually made from microbes that devour nutrients in the water supply of Milwaukee (hence the name). Here is the description from the Milorganize website:
Milorganite is made using one of the nation’s oldest recycling efforts. Instead of plastic and glass, nutrients are recycled.
Wastewater enters the Jones Island water reclamation facility where all solid materials such as sand, boards, shop rags, plastic and debris are first removed. Microbes are added to the water—the activation process—and oxygen is bubbled through the water to create the ideal environment for the microbes to digest the nutrients in the water.
The microbes die after they consume all of the nutrients. Binding agents are added to the water causing the microbes to clump together and settle to the bottom of the undisturbed water in sedimentation tanks. After everything has settled the cleaned water is returned to Lake Michigan and the microbe clumps are sent on for dewatering and drying.
Moisture is first squeezed out of the clumps using belt presses resulting in something similar to wet cardboard. The semi-solid material moves on to one of 12 rotary kiln driers heated to 900–1200 ⁰F. The extreme heat kills pathogens.
#2: Since it’s a natural product it won’t burn your lawn. If you’ve ever used chemical fertilizer you know that it’s best to treat your lawn right before a rain storm if you don’t have a sprinkler system. That can be tricky and if the expected rains don’t materialize in time you can have large, ugly dead spots in your yard.
#3: Using Milorganite over time will enrich the soil of your lawn. I have no way to evaluate this claim but considering its results I have no reason to doubt it. Supposedly nutrients are locked up in the soil, particularly nitrogen, and continued use will unlock the nitrogen (among others) and change it into a more usable form.
#4: What matters most, of course, is whether Milorganite has helped our lawn? And the results are stunning!
❀ The front yard grass is so thick that I have to cut it in sections. What I mean by this is that we have a very long front yard and the grass is so thick that the mower chokes down so if I cut it in sections the choking is eliminated. Yes, it’s more work that way but the trade-off is wonderful because there are virtually no weeds and so I don’t have to cut it as often. The weeds were the plants that got tall, not the grass.
❀ The back yard has been a special problem. It gets a lot of shade and so it’s harder for grass to grow. Consequently we’ve had lots more weeds and they get tall and lanky and thus the yard has needed cutting quite often. I just checked on our back yard and there are TWO – yes, two – weeds where there used to be dozens. It’s a freaking miracle.
#5: The fertilizer keeps working for about 10 weeks and then we will do it again, which will be sometime in the next two weeks or around August 1. You need to pay attention to timing based on the climate and kinds of grass you have. We live in Georgia and Milorganite advises:
Avoid fertilizing southern grasses too late in the fall. The grass is trying to go dormant and when you fertilize you’re encouraging it to grow. This may cause your lawn to be less hardy as it enters cold weather and more susceptible to winter injury. The last time to fertilize warm-season grasses, in fall is one month before dormancy or the average first killing frost.
Our first killing frost is usually in October so fertilizing in late July/early August is perfect timing.
What Do We Not Like About Milorganite?
Actually there’s nothing to dislike. There is one caution, though: don’t expect instant results. With chemical fertilizers we get faster results and so I thought our Milorganite wasn’t working. But now I like at our thick, green lawn and am absolutely amazed. Just be patient.