Just because your yard needs a little extra help staying lush doesn’t mean you need to use chemical fertilizers! About 70 million tons of fertilizer are applied to lawns annually, and some frequently-used chemicals inside fertilizers have been linked to illnesses including leukemia and asthma!
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Use coffee grounds. Coffee grounds (new or used) contain nitrogen and other nutrients that are helpful to plant growth. Apply the grounds directly to the soil – there’s no need to let them decompose in a compost heap first. Coffee grounds are acidic, so make sure you’re using them to fertilize acid-loving plants like blueberries, azaleas and roses. Tip: If coffee isn’t your thing in the morning, many coffee shops will sell or give away old grounds.
Use eggshells. If you’re growing calcium-loving plants like tomatoes, squash and peppers in your vegetable garden, hold onto your old eggshells! Let your eggshells dry out (this may take a few days) and then break down the shells in a food processor or blender. Sow the eggshell dust into the soil – don’t sprinkle it on top. You want the calcium to get to the plants’ roots.
Start a compost pile. Your dinner leftovers can become nutrient-rich soil fertilizers without any dangerous chemicals! Go all out and make a large compost bin in your backyard or create a smaller one for your kitchen. Before you start tossing everything in the bin, though, check out our list of items to avoid composting.
Add legumes to your garden. Legumes like peas and beans are the only vegetable plants that can process nitrogen from the air and then transfer it to the soil around them. So if you’re looking for a little nitrogen boost in your garden, plant some peas!
Purchase organic fertilizer. If you swear by store-bought fertilizers, purchase organic fertilizers instead of chemical fertilizers. Both types typically contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (the nutrients necessary for plant growth), but the difference lies in how those nutrients are produced. You want your nutrients to be naturally or organically produced, so look for fertilizers labeled “organic” like Scott's Organic Choice Lawn Food. Make sure your fertilizer instructions say that you can go on your lawn right away – if there’s a 48 hour wait period, your fertilizer contains chemicals. Note: If you have pets, make sure your fertilizers don’t contain cocoa, blood or bone meal, because these ingredients will make the fertilizer smell like food to your pet.