Price Cost Comparison | Organic Vs Chemical

Does it really make any difference to use organic practices? Why should I care if chemicals do a good job killing weeds? Is there any difference between Organic vs Chemical?

The biggest property I maintain is roughly 6 acres big, although it is only 4 acres of that property, that is covered with grass. I started with an organic program there 7 years ago.Previously that property was maintained chemically. The chemical applications done by the previous landscaper were

  • 1. Chemical fertilizer and pre-emergent weed control early in the Spring
  • 2. More chemical fertilizer and some weed control to kill clover and dandelions in early summer.
  • 3.Another application of chemical fertilizer, and spot treatments for weeds in the summer.
  • 4. Late summer application of chemical fertilizer, and again more spot treatments for those weeds that are hard to kill.
  • 5. Heavy rate of fertilizer in the fall, and application of Lime, and aeration.

Organic Vs Chemical price cost comparison

Total cost of the chemical program was $1190 per year.

Petroleum based products have been increasing in price every year. The price of a chemical fertilization program keeps rising every year as well.

In 2008 , I started an organic program in that same property.

  • 1.Soil test and analysis.
  • 2. 3 Applications of organic fertilizer based on the soil test results.
  • 3. Application of 10 yards of organic compost.
  • 4. 3 applications of compost tea.
  • 5. Re-seeding spring and Fall

Total cost was $1625 on 2008.

During the chemical program the cost to maintain the property was at least $1190 per year. Chemical lawns require a constant application of chemical pesticides, and fertilizers, to keep the grass fed, and disease free. Remember, if you have someone, or if you are the one who applies chemical products on you property, you are being forced to apply all these chemicals to keep the lawn looking good, and weed free, basically for ever. Your lawn may be smaller than 4 acres, and you will certainly be paying less for your applications, if you have a smaller yard. But it is undeniable, you will have some fixed expenses every year in order to maintain your yard. Again, in this case, my customers now were paying $1200 per season under a chemical program.

Organic vs Chemical. Short And Long Term Benefits

In 2008 the organic program started, and following the soil test recommendations, we applied organic products, and compost to fix the soil. The total price was $1625. $425 more expensive than the chemical program. I encountered problems with grubs in some places, I did have problems with crabgrass, and I could definitely see clover growing everywhere. In just 4 months, I was pretty close to be fired, because, there were too many weeds, and grubs were doing a lot of damage to the lawn, and frankly, the lawn did not look good. And it was more expensive!!! During the second year in 2009, the lawn looked a little bit better. I assured my customers we were on the right path. By now, we definitely knew where the problem areas were located.

On 2010, we did not need compost, fertilizer, or seed. The only application we did, was a few applications of compost tea. Crabgrass was almost gone, It did not magically disappear. We fixed the problemĀ  applying compost(sandy soil was making crabgrass thrive), instead of getting rid off the symptom (crabgrass), applying crabgrass control.

Organic vs chemical. Organic wins

The transition to Organic is easy

To this day, I can still see some crabgrass, and few other weeds. The lawn is not covered with weeds. Maybe 1 or 2% of the lawn have weeds. Not noticeable at this point, and clover, is not considered a weed. In fact we used clover seeds in our early applications of grass seed. 2011, I did not applied anything to the lawn. Nothing at all. We just mowed when needed. Same thing for year 2012, 2013, and 2014. By the way, we also reduced the irrigation, from watering daily, to maybe once a month. Reducing the water bills from lawn irrigation went from $2500 a year to less than $300.

So, why is the reason I no longer have to apply grub control, pesticides, aerate the lawn? How is that possible? I fixed the problems. I increased the organic matter, brought back the microbiology, fed the microbes with organic fertilizer. Earth worms came back, and aerated the soil. Weeds disappeared because I changed the environment for the weeds to grow. It took me several years, but my customers were willing to wait and saw the results. Needless to say, they are happy with their investment. They paid over $1000 every year, for a program that did not work. So now, They pay $0 for turf applications, and only $300 to irrigate 6 acres of turf and planting beds. I still do weekly plant maintenance, so I am not out of work.

Organic Gardening And Lawn Care Is Cheaper

So, do you still think organic is more expensive? Here is a great example between Organic Vs Chemical lawn cost.

Organic vs chemical. (Organic right, chemical left)

Chemical vs Organic

Organic vs Chemical. (Organic right, chemical left)

Soil Sample

Chemical (left) vs Organic (right)
Chemical lawn is mowed at 2″ tall. Organic is mowed at 4″ tall. Both lawns get the same amount of water and sun.
Roots in the chemical lawn only reach 4″ in depth. In the organic lawn, the roots reach 12″ deep. Also, do you notice the color of the soil? Chemical is sandy, and the organic soil is high in organic matter.

Do you still think organic is more expensive? Organic Vs Chemical, what do you think?

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2 thoughts on “Price Cost Comparison | Organic Vs Chemical

  • Love your posts. Very informative and enlightening.
    I am in the process of shifting to organic lawn care. In the example 6 acre property you mentioned above, how did you control/get rid of grubs? Did you use milky spore or did enriching the soil contribute to their eradication?

    • I used milky spores long time ago, but I learned they do not work in cold climate like New England. I mostly use beneficial nematodes, or good quality compost. Using local compost will add native microbiology in the soil. In all the organic lawns I manage, I have never seen grub or skunk damage after the soil is balanced (3-5 years on average). Worst case scenario, buy nematodes online from a reputable source. Add local compost to the lawn, and feed the microbes.

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