What makes lawn-care products organic?

In organic farming, federal rules govern which products can be labeled “organic.” However, no such certification exists for lawn-care products. Here’s a guide to common labels on the products:

Natural: Materials are in the same form as they appear in nature, without drying, processing or shredding. Very few lawn-care products fit this description.

Organic: Natural materials that may have been processed or manipulated in some way, with nothing added or extracted. Examples include corn gluten meal, chicken manure, ground bird feathers and ground fishmeal.

Organic-based: Natural materials to which other, possibly synthetic, materials have been added or extracted. In many organic-based fertilizers, manufacturers add a small amount of urea, a synthetic compound that significantly increases the nitrogen count. In another example, a commonly used fertilizer comprised of a by-product of sewage sludge is labeled organic-based because metals such as mercury and lead are removed for safety.


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