Chemical fertilizers can improve the appearance and health of your lawn. However, chemical fertilizers can also harm your pets or children, and contribute to groundwater pollution.
Chemical fertilizers contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen is the most important ingredient; percent nitrogen is the first number listed on the fertilizer label, and then phosphorus and potassium. Some fertilizers may also include "micronutrients" like zinc.
Chemical fertilizers can improve the color of your grass, prevent weeds, prevent diseases and help your lawn withstand stress.
Chemical fertilizers can also be a health hazard, especially to your pets and children. Chemical fertilizers can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin or transmitted by contaminated clothing or objects. Chemical fertilizers may increase the chance of cancer, lymphoma, birth defects and decreased fertility.
Chemical fertilizers contribute to groundwater pollution, which damages aquatic ecosystems and represents an additional health risk to people and animals.
Organic fertilizer, such as compost, represents an alternative to chemical fertilizers. You can also consider digging out weeds instead of using herbicides. Keeping your lawn healthy with proper mowing and watering techniques will also reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.