Decisions, decisions. Lawn care operators make a multitude of choices every day. One fairly important one is whether to use granular or liquid fertilizer. The problem is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Granular fertilizer contains nutrients in a pellet form that is applied with a spreader. Once it hits the ground, it requires external forces, such as moisture, enzymes and microbes, to break it down and turn it into food to feed the plant. Liquid fertilizer, on the other hand, already contains the needed materials.
A major component of fertilizer is urea, a type of nitrogen-based fertilizer that can be coated in sulfur, polymers or other chemicals, but there are also stabilized nitrogen and many other technologies.
Spray or spread?
The key is to apply the right fertilizer in the right place at the right time at the right rate, says Eric Miltner, turf and ornamental agronomist with Koch Agronomic Services. In general, there are more options available in the granular form of fertilizer.
“Every kind of technology out there is available as a granular product,” Miltner says. In extreme examples, there are granular fertilizers that only need to be applied once in the spring which might be particularly attractive to a landscape contractor.
When deciding which form of fertilizer to use, the first thing to keep in mind is the application process and what equipment you have on hand.
Granular fertilizer can be applied with a basic push spreader. Other types are drop spreaders or hand rotary whirlybird spreaders. For application of liquid fertilizer, though, you need a truck, a spray tank and a hose, or a ride-on sprayer.