One of the biggest discussions that’s occurring related to lawn care is the use of granular vs. liquid fertilizers. Many prefer liquid fertilizers due to their overall efficiency and consistency, however, granular fertilizers remain to be a big hit for home lawns.
The truth is, comparing granular vs. liquid fertilizer is like comparing apples to oranges—each serves its own different purpose. Read below to learn the benefits and disadvantages of each as well as when it’s best to use one or the other.
What is granular fertilizer?
Granular fertilizer is sold in little granules that resemble small, sometimes multi-colored pellets. Granular fertilizer is typically sold in medium or large-sized bags or bottles for turfgrass, gardens and other plants.
The Benefits of Granular Fertilizer
Granular fertilizer is a great option for situations that favor traditional slow-release formulations. Although some liquid fertilizer features slow-release components, granular fertilizer is always absorbed at a slower rate because the soil and plants have to break it down first. This can be described as “spacial difference”—the distance between the fertilizer nutrients and the plant roots to reach absorption.
In general, granular fertilizer has a greater spacial difference, which can work in favor of various situations. For example, if you want the fertilizer you applied to last all season without constantly making applications, a granular fertilizer takes a while to break down.
However, it is becoming a frequent practice for granular fertilizers to be “sparged” with liquid fertilizer. In other words, the granular fertilizer is covered with a coat of liquid fertilizer that is immediately absorbed into the plant upon application.
Granular fertilizers are often a lot cheaper than liquid fertilizers when bought in bulk. Granular fertilizer can be a great option for homeowners who’ve always used the traditional bags of fertilizer and are satisfied with the results.
The Disadvantages of Granular Fertilizer
Some of the major disadvantages of granular fertilizer include its application consistency when compared to liquid fertilizer. Granular fertilizer contains a mix of different granules for each nutrient included in the package. This may be indicated by the different colors of granules. When spreading it out on your lawn or plants, the plants don’t receive the same amount of nutrients in every location.
Granular fertilizers usually come in heavy bags that can be hard to lift whereas a liquid fertilizer comes in smaller bottles you simply hook up to your garden hose for application or mix with water in a spray tank.
A lot of granular fertilizers also take a while to be broken down by the plant, so your plants may not be receiving the nutrients when they need them at the time of application. They contain a higher amount of salt content, which results in newly developing roots steering away from the fertilizer instead of towards it.
Lastly, immobile nutrients like phosphorus, which is a main macronutrient for plants, are hard to be transported throughout the plant when it’s not in its liquid form.
How to apply granular fertilizer
With granular fertilizer, it is more common for application to occur by hand spreading on plants, or in most cases, with the use of a broadcast or drop spreader for lawns and gardens. A measured amount of granular fertilizer specified on the product label will be poured into a granular or broadcast spreader and then applied when you begin pushing the spreader across the area you want to fertilize.
The amount of fertilizer and the spreading rate will be specified on the product label. Be sure to also check out our Sod University article on How to Avoid a Common Fertilizing Error, which addresses the issue of fertilizer striping.
Lawnifi® Foundation is granular fertilizer used for residential lawns and gardens that can be used throughout the different seasons all year long. With a 29-0-5 formulation, Lawnifi Foundation features a slow-release mixture of nitrogen that feeds your plants over a longer duration of time while enhancing the green color of your lawn.
The 2 percent iron included in Lawnifi Foundation serves to help plants move oxygen throughout the leaves, roots and other parts of the plant, resulting in a green color that lets you know your lawn and garden are healthy.
Powered by Catalyst TechnologyTM, Lawnifi Foundation is sparged with liquid fertilizer containing nano-sized nutrients that are immediately absorbed into the plant at the time of application. This increases efficiency and maximum nutrient uptake. Each 25 lb. bag of Lawnifi Foundation will feed your plants for up to three months at a time.
What is liquid fertilizer?
Liquid fertilizer, in opposition to solid, granular fertilizer, is a liquid product that is typically added to water and applied to turfgrass or plants. Liquid fertilizer is usually a more concentrated form of granular fertilizer, contains more nutrients and it is frequently sold in bottles that simply attach to the end of your garden hose.
The Benefits of Liquid Fertilizer
Liquid fertilizer carries a great amount of benefits as it can be as simple as watering your lawn on a normal basis. Liquid fertilizers, including the kind sold under Lawnifi, attach to the end of your garden hose for an even spray distribution. It also delivers the same amount of nutrients with every drop.
With the use of Catalyst Technology, nutrients are nano-sized so that they are quickly and easily absorbed by the plant. Less nutrients sit in the ground and more are actually absorbed into the plant.
Catalyst Technology protects individual nutrients by encapsulation. Phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients are protected from tie-up with other ions in the soil and water by forming a net neutral particle. This technology ensures extended plant availability.
Liquid fertilizers also have less salt content, which is usually why liquid fertilizers are usually better for starter fertilizers. Granular fertilizers contain a lot more salt content, and roots tend to steer away from granular fertilizers for this reason—especially if there’s a lot of nitrogen and potassium.
The Disadvantages of Liquid Fertilizer
The main disadvantages that come with liquid fertilizer is that they can sometimes be more expensive than granular fertilizers, and they are more susceptible to volatilization (or turned into a gas and potentially evaporated into the atmosphere).
How to apply liquid fertilizer
Most liquid fertilizers, like Lawnifi’s array of bottled formulations, can easily be hooked up to the end of your garden hose. Make sure that you have the fertilizer attached to the garden hose before turning it on. Turn your garden hose on, switch the fertilizer bottle into the “On” position and walk backwards as you apply the fertilizer so that you don’t walk through any of the product.
Other bottles of liquid fertilizer can require tank mixing or hose-end mixing with a hose-end attachment.
Overall, both liquid and granular fertilizers have advantages and disadvantages. It really depends on your lawn’s needs at the time of your personal preference. For example, if you have newly installed sod you want to fertilize, it may be better to use a liquid fertilizer like Lawnifi’s New Lawn Starter Box. If you are applying fertilizer seasonally, either liquid or granular fertilizer will work.