Fertilizers 2018-03-17T23:47:11+00:00


What Are Fertilizers?

Fertilizers are applied to add nutrients to the soil . Chemical Fertilizers are compounds that combine the following elements: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and secondary micronutrients: calcium, sulfur, copper, magnesium, iron, zinc etc. The production of these chemical is energy consuming and unsustainable. But most worrisome is the damage the runoff of of nitrogen and phosphorus creates to our aquatic ecosystems to the economy and to our health.Excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the air and water, is one of the most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems.

Chemical fertilizers stimulate leaf growth. But the underdeveloped roots cause bad drainage and expand the need for water.

The effect of chemical fertilizers is temporary: without a healthy root system plants will soon need more added nutrients.

A poor root system cannot absorb all the nutrients or hold water. Nitrogen and phosphorus will be washed into the waterways

Organic matter will cause root system to develop better. Organic particles in the soil will create good absorbance and good drainage.

Plants with good roots are more resilient to drought and to pests. The absorption of nutrients by the plant is slower but more even.

Good root development and organic rich soil can hold water and nutrients. It will not be washed away. Waterways stay clean and healthy

Deprivation of Nutrients

Since all plants are different there is no standard quantity of nutrients a plant should need. Native plants per definition thrive in the local soil and don’t need amendments. Yet there are some common yard issues that can cause a lack of nutrients:

  • Erosion: Erosion takes place if their are not enough deep rooted plantings to contain the soil.
  • Over mulching: The breaking down of the mulch requires nitrogen, which will be pulled up form the soil, leaving less of it for the plants
  • Over watering: Too much water disturbs the take up of nutrients
  • Crop Planting: Nutrients are distracted from the soil when we harvest produce.
  • Leaf blowing:  Leaves create a seasonal addition of nutrients.If you blow them away, you are taking away the nutrients.

Chemical fertilizers don’t belong in a Healthy Yard.  But if you have exotic plants, a lawn or many big trees you might like to add some extra nutrients now and then. The same is true for our vegetable gardens, where we need to replenish the soil after we harvest our produce. Luckily there are good, natural, ways to add nutrients to your soil.


Grass clipping and leaves can be mulched on the lawn for nutrients. A thin layer of mulch or a light bedding of straw in winter can protect  roots and will decompose quickly enough to create nutrients for the growing season.

Compost and humus

Adding compost is somewhat more elaborate to use than the light and dry chemical fertilizers. But it is by far the best solution for the long term.  Compost doesn’t just nurture your plants with a great mix of nutrients, but it also creates a  better soil structure, it feeds the microorganisms in the soil, and helps storing carbon.

Nitrogen Fixing Plants

Another good way to add nitrogen to your soil is to use nitrogen fixing legumes, these are clover, bean, peas and fetches that have roots with bacteria that can take up the atmospheric nitrogen and change it into a form of nitrogen that can be used by other plants. If you have a garden you might want to look deeper into the use of these plants but if you have a yard it will suffice to use the plants you like for their esthetic and wildlife value.