Milorganite vs. Scotts Turf Builder [Hybrid Fertilizer Approach]

Milorganite is best applied to lawns in early spring and midsummer. Scotts Turf Builder provides the best benefit to your grass when it is applied in late spring and fall. Both fertilizers have unique positives and drawbacks. They are best used together as part of a hybrid fertilization program.

Milorganite is formulated as an iron-rich, slow-release fertilizer that encourages spring root growth. It is also gentle enough to boost summer lawn performance without damaging your grass. Scotts Turf Builder provides much bigger boosts in grass blade growth and color, but it should be applied at the right time to prevent damaging your lawn long term.

Milorganite vs. Scotts Turf Builder

Milorganite vs. Scotts Turf Builder: Which is Better?

Is it better to use Milorganite or a synthetic fertilizer like Scotts Turf Builder? The truth is, different fertilizers perform better at different times and in different circumstances. Both Milorganite and Scotts Turf Builder can contribute to a healthy lawn, but neither product is the perfect fertilizer.

It’s important to know the benefits and drawbacks of each fertilizer in order to decide which is right for you.

Milorganite: Pros and Cons

Milorganite is an organic fertilizer that feeds soil microbes and provides iron. It is gentle and easy to use, with a very low risk of harming your grass. However, it has a much lower nitrogen content than Scotts Turf Builder, so it won’t provide the same dramatic boost in growth.

Milorganite Pros

  • Will not “burn” grass with nitrogen overload.
  • Great for early spring applications, as it encourages natural root growth.
  • Perfect for peak summer applications, when synthetic fertilizers will burn hot/dry grass.
  • Provides iron for green color.
  • No-fuss fertilizer, great for lawn care beginners.
  • Won’t harm pets or other animals.

Milorganite Cons

  • Contains less than 20% of the amount of nitrogen in Scotts Turf Builder, resulting in much less grass blade growth.
  • Does not provide an optimal boost to grass growth if used in late spring or fall.
  • Does not contain potassium, which strengthens grass against disease, drought, and cold.
  • May require several weeks to show results.

Milorganite Can Help Keep Unwanted Animals Away

Although it is not marketed as an animal repellent, another benefit is Milorganite has been shown to be an effective deer repellent. Deer are reluctant to enter yards and gardens where Milorganite is present. Spreading it in your yard can help protect your plants from pest animals.

Is Milorganite Made from Human Feces?

It is a common misconception that Milorganite is human feces in a bag. This is not true.

Milorganite is made by processing the wastewater of the city of Milwaukee. What is actually in the bag are the microbes that feed on fecal matter, not feces itself. Additionally, these microbes have been kiln-dried at 900℉, which kills pathogens and renders the product 100% safe.

Scotts Turf Builder: Pros and Cons

Scotts Turf Builder comes in two varieties: Scotts Turf Builder Southern Lawn Food and Scotts Turf Builder Northern Lawn Food. These fertilizers are specially formulated for warm-season and cool-season grasses, respectively. They provide high levels of nitrogen to stimulate aboveground grass growth, along with potassium, to help grass resist disease.

Scotts Turf Builder Pros

  • High nitrogen content stimulates aboveground grass growth quickly—often in 1–5 days.
  • Great for late spring applications, to thicken grass after initial green-up.
  • Ideal for early fall application, to strengthen grass prior to winter.
  • Contains potassium, to increase grass hardiness.
  • Pet friendly when applied correctly.

Scotts Turf Builder Cons

  • Can “burn” grass if too much is used or if it is applied at the wrong time.
  • If used in early spring, nitrogen overload will inhibit grass root growth.
  • If applied in hot/dry summer temperatures can dry out grass and kill it.
  • Must be used more carefully than Milorganite, to prevent lawn damage.

Can You Use Scotts Turf Builder and Milorganite?

The best way to promote a green lawn is to use both Milorganite and Scotts Turf Builder on your lawn. They are the perfect one-two punch to ensure your lawn receives optimal amounts of nitrogen and other essential nutrients.

Milorganite is an organic fertilizer that stimulates root growth and provides iron for rich, green grass color. It’s also great for lawns that are drought-stressed because it will feed them without the risk of burning them. It will give you the gradual benefit over 8–10 weeks.

Scotts Turf Builder is a high-nitrogen fertilizer that will give your lawn an instant boost—think of it as caffeine for your lawn. When applied in spring and fall, just as your lawn is naturally about to hit a growth spurt, the nitrogen in Scotts will multiply that growth and give you an incredibly lush lawn.

By applying each fertilizer at different times, you can get the benefits of both with none of the drawbacks.

When Should You Put Down Milorganite?

As a slow-release, organic nitrogen fertilizer, Milorganite should be applied in the right amount at times where your grass is fragile or stressed. It provides the gentle nudge your grass needs in early spring and is a safe way to feed grass in summer.

  • Early Spring: February/March in warm regions, March/April in cool regions.
  • Midsummer: Early July and early August.

If your lawn is struggling during drought or extreme heat, it’s safe to use Milorganite to improve grass health. Just avoid using Milorganite every month or your grass roots could become weakened.

When Should You Put Down Scotts Turf Builder?

Apply Scotts when your lawn is at peak strength and ready for a growth spurt. It will provide a massive increase in grass growth, resulting in a thicker yard that chokes out weeds and survives the winter months easily.

  • Late Spring: March/April in warm regions, April/May in cool regions, about 4 weeks after green-up.
  • Fall: October/November in warm regions, September/October in cool regions.

Avoid applying Scotts during drought conditions, as the high nitrogen levels may further dry out drought-afflicted lawns.

Comparison: Milorganite vs. Scotts Turf Builder

Although they’re both lawn fertilizers, Milorganite and Scotts Turf Builder are very different. Milorganite is best used to encourage lawns during initial spring green-up, and to boost the performance of struggling or drought-stricken lawns. Scotts Turf Builder, on the other hand, delivers the large amounts of nitrogen needed during late spring and fall to build a healthy yard.

In order to get the best out of both fertilizers, consider a hybrid fertilization program that employs Milorganite in early spring and midsummer and Scotts Turf Builder in late spring and fall.

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