Five Reasons Why I Don’t Use Fertilizer

Last updated 10/12/2019 | |

This post may include affiliate links. 
If you make a purchase, I'll earn a small fee at no extra cost to you.

Just about every other radio commercial on my way to work is about lawn fertilizer. My motto? "Just Say No." Here are some reasons why I don't use it.

1. I don't like my lawn that much anyway. This winter, I started sheet mulching part of the lawn to plant a front yard garden.

2. Fertilizers are designed to create dependency--they give your lawn a quick boost but then a couple of months later, you need more. It's like crack for your lawn.

3. If your soil is too clay-ey, it will run off into the gutter and ultimately into our creeks and rivers. This creates a whole different pollution/algae problem. Yes, you might only use a tiny bit of fertilizer, but I bet all of your neighbors have a lawn too. The pollution really adds up.

4. It costs money. We all know how BrownThumbMama feels about that!

5. But these are the most important reasons of all. I can keep Jackjack off the lawn until the chemicals are (theoretically) gone, but I can't tell Neighbor Kitty to stay away.

What do I do instead? We have a mulching lawnmower and BrownThumbPapa leaves the lawn clippings on the lawn to decompose. That's all it takes!

If I was really ambitious, I'd invent a gizmo to aerate the lawn (heaven knows I'm not going to pay to rent something). Nothing has come to mind yet though.

Do you use fertilizer? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments. And if you've invented a homemade lawn aerator, share your secret with all of us.

You’ll also like:

My 5 Best Gardening Tips

Join my weekly newsletter and learn My 5 Best Gardening Tips!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Hi, I’m Pam! I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my natural living journey, and help you live a greener life. Thanks for being here, and please check out the resources in my Natural Living Shop!


  1. Janice on October 31, 2015 at 7:07 am

    One silly but simple method for aerating lawn.Use an old pair of golf shoes ( the ones with metal spikes). Use them when mowing!

  2. Hilary on March 28, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Before applying any fertilizer, it’s a good idea to have your soil tested, so you can add only the amount you need of what you need. I use organic fertilizers only.
    Leaving clippings to decompose is an excellent idea, as is mowing with care: never ‘scalp’ your lawn, because that leaves vulnerable grass roots to fry in the sun without their sheltering blades. Don’t cut off more than the top 1/3 of the blades at a time.
    Aerating is the single most important thing you can do for lawn health. You can reduce the cost by sharing with neighbors–if you can rent the aerator for a half-day, that’s enough time for three or four quarter-acre lawns, and split three ways, the cost is pretty reasonable! If you do those things regularly, you may well not need any fertilizer!

    • Russell Milko on August 11, 2020 at 6:21 am

      Go catch and cook some high mountain trout.
      Dispose the bones and head in your garden.
      It worked for the pilgrims.


  3. myrecessionkitchen on March 24, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I’ve used a pitch fork to aerate my lawn. I just walk back and forth stabbing it.

  4. on March 22, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    I don’t use fertilizer for my lawn, I do let the leaves and grass clippings do their job. I know someone who had her kids wear their soccer shoes and had their cleats aerate the lawn. Does JackJack play soccer?

  5. Greg Damitz on March 21, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I hardly ever use it anymore as I see the first hand effects of fertilizers on creeks when I check my urban wood duck nesting project. It causes severe algae blooms and plant growth that chokes the creeks when they are slow moving in summer. When I did use it I used it sparingly and never with any herbicides in it.

  6. Bill Bird on March 20, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Yup — I use it. However, I did come to the realization that I was using the wrong thing. I was knocking out the clover that is so important to bees. At one time — every lawn in the neighborhood had clover. Every neighborhood also had a wild hive. Now? Hardly any neighborhoods have clover. And thanks to CCD, hardly any neighborhoods have wild hives anymore. I haven’t seen a single, solitary bee on my cherry trees this March, and they’re blossoming like mad now. This worries me.

Leave a Comment


Hi, I'm Pam!

I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my natural living journey and help you live a greener life. Thanks for being here! Learn more about me.

Shop your natural gardening essentials.

Vegetable Gardening
for Beginners

Vegetable Planting

Beginner's Guide to
Making Compost