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Retail vs professional grade fertilizer. Is there a difference?

You may not have noticed, but it is very rare that you see professional buying fertilizers at the big box stores. Why is that? Are “commercial grade” fertilizers really all that better than what you can purchase off the shelf?

The answer is yes and no. 

When it comes to the product itself, and the nutrients that they provide your lawn, they are all the same. If applied correctly, you will get good results from using both commercial or residential grade products. State law requires that the labels on fertilizer bags tell you what is inside the bag. So if a fertilizer bag says 15-15-15 on the label, then you have a 15-15-15 fertilizer whether it is commercial grade or not. 

So what is the difference? 

First of all, customization. Particularly in regards to the slow release aspect. There is no slow release variation with retail products, you mostly get either 10% slow release or no slow release at all. 

Commercial grade products can be purchased at just about any slow release rate desired. At VistaTurf, for instance, we always want to use between a 30% and 50% slow release. We do this (along with most other lawn care companies) because we want the fertilizer to break down slowly and feed your lawn over a longer period of time. 

Without a slow release, all of the nutrients are released at once into your turf. Yes, your lawn will benefit from this sudden release of nutrients, but in no time at all it will be lacking in nutrients an in need for another feeding. 

The second major difference is simple: Price. On the retail side you are paying a lot more for a name on the bag. The most popular fertilizer on the retail side will cost you right at $30, and will cover 10,000 square feet. Most commercial grade products will cost you $20-$25 per bag and will cover 14,000 sq ft. 

When it comes down to it, something is better than nothing. If you already have some retail grade fertilizer, or if its simply a matter of convenience, then by all means use the retail stuff! 

But if you have a garden center or landscape supply store close by, you might want to take some time and see what your options are. 

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