All green thumb homeowners dream of establishing and maintaining a luscious green lawn, but it’s tougher than you might think. Just the right amount of sun and water is a great start, but even then, your yard may look a little disheveled, unless, that is, you take action!
Lawn care products provide struggling grass with the nutrients it needs to thrive and take on a healthy deep green hue, and Milorganite and Ironite are some of the best in the biz, but they’re by no means the same product — Which you should use depends on your goals.
So, to get you closer to that dream lawn, we’re pitting these awesome products against one another in a versus match. We’ll be discussing how they differ, how they work, and how to decide between them.
Milorganite Vs. Ironite: Comparing Companies
To truly understand how these lawn care products diverge, we have to start with a brief overview of their manufacturers, as the ethos behind each one may well influence your decision.
Who Makes Milorganite?
Milorginate is the brainchild of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. Yep, that’s right, Milorganite is produced by a regional government agency, one responsible for water reclamation and flood management across “Cream City”.
Their rather novel approach to fertilizer creation involves the use of special microbes to draw out nutrients from the wastewater of the city so that they may be repurposed in a beneficial manner — Enter Milorganite.
The MMSD also specializes in the use of recycled and composted materials in their fertilizer, so their efforts don’t just lead to some green gains in your yard, but green gains on a global scale.
It’s a completely organic formulation based on a slow-release nutrient system facilitated by insoluble nitrogen content. What’s more, as a natural byproduct of the MMSD’s water purification process, it’s considered a full-cycle zero-waste initiative, which is pretty amazing!
How Is Milorganite Made?
When the wastewater enters the Milwaukee reclamation facility, the first step is to remove any solid contaminants such as plastics and sand. Then, special microbes are introduced to the water and activated via intensive oxygenation.
The bubbles of air rushing through the water create an optimal environment for nutrition absorption, and that’s exactly what happens. The microbes eat up all the good stuff from the wastewater, and once it runs out, they perish, but this is just the start of their journey.
A binding agent enters the water and clumps all the deceased microbes together, thus increasing their density, which, consequently, leads to their sinking and settling in the bottom of the water in reservoirs known as sedimentation tanks.
Once settling is complete, the microbial sediment is removed from the water, wrung out by belt presses, then dried in rotary kilns heated to between 900 and 1200 °F, a process that both solidifies the microbes and kills any pathogens lurking within.
After some rigorous safety testing, the microbes are then prepped for packing before being released into the market.
Who Makes Ironite?
Ironite is a Pennington Steel Incorporated product, and instead of wastewater, it’s formulated using mining waste generated by Arizona’s Iron King Mine.
Again, the goal here is to repurpose waste, which is always a noble endeavor, but unfortunately, there have been some troubling developments in Ironite’s story in recent years (more on that in a moment).
How Is Ironite Made?
Similarly to Milorganite, Ironite is the result of mass nutrient consumption, but as different waste is used, different nutrients are isolated by microbes, chief among them is of course soluble iron.
Iron is the stuff that deepens and intensifies the greenness of our lawn, which is why Ironite can be so effective at times, but here’s the problem… iron isn’t the only thing hitching a ride in this formulation.
Studies have shown that Ironite has, in the past, contained a worrying amount of arsenic and lead, two contaminants that can be exceedingly damaging to our lawns and our own health.
This led to a ban in Canada and numerous lawsuits across the US, and in the wake of these events, it’s thought that Pennington Steel Inc. have cleaned up Ironite, at least to a degree that satisfies the American market, but it’s still wise to tread with caution.
Milorganite & Ironite Are Not The Same Thing
It’s almost strange to compare Milorganite and Ironite in this head-to-head context, as, technically speaking, they don’t even occupy the same niche in the lawn care market.
Granted, they can both work wonders on a beleaguered lawn, but, ultimately, they’re more different than most realize.
What Is Milorganite?
Milorganite is a lawn fertilizer, through and through, a comprehensive formulation designed to give your grass as many of the different nutrients it needs to survive and thrive as possible.
In other words, Milorgnaite isn’t a very focused product for specific problems; it’s more of a general lawn care tool that has a number of benefits across the board.
What Is Ironite?
By contrast, Ironite is far too focused to be considered a lawn fertilizer. Rather, Ironite should be thought of as a lawn supplement, which is to say that its effects aren’t as broad as Milorganite.
While it would be unfair to say that Ironite is nutrient deficient, it’s not quite as fleshed out and balanced as its competitor here. As an iron-rich composition, it can be used to bolster the “greenifying” powers of other more general products, much the way we use supplements in our own diets.
Liquid Vs. Solid
Another big differentiator to note is that Ironite can be purchased in both granular and liquid form, each bringing different benefits to the table.
Miloerganite, on the other hand, is only available as a granulated fertilizer, as the drying of the microbes is a crucial part of the production process.
So, before we move on, let’s evaluate the pros and cons of both granulated and liquid Ironite.
- Granulated Ironite: Improves soil quality and reduces lawn’s reliance on water, something that can be incredibly helpful in more arid climates with minimal rainfall.
- Liquid Ironite: Enters the grass blades and root system directly, improving color and quality of lawn quickly, but having little to no benefit where soil quality is concerned.
Is Milorganite Or Ironite Best For Your Lawn?
Which of these products you apply to your lawn depends on the specifics of your situation. Let’s take a look at some examples to give you an idea of how and when they should be employed moving forward.
Green Lawn On The Double
Should you need to tackle yellowing areas quickly, Ironite is going to be the most effective option, as the shot of iron it provides is precisely what those blanched blades are missing.
It’s a fast-acting formula that revitalizes grass in record time — We’re talking a week, possibly even days. This accounts for the immense user satisfaction associated with this product.
Despite the iron-oriented name, Ironite is also chock full of other synergistic nutrients, most of which are aimed at shortening the application-to-results phase.
Now, this isn’t to say that Milorganite won’t green up your yard, because it absolutely will! Milorganite contains iron too, just not in such high concentrations. Plus, as a slow-release fertilizer, that iron takes its time getting to where it needs to be.
Better Soil Quality
Although granulated Ironite can be instrumental in improving soil quality, it’s by no means your best option.
Milorganite is by far the most effective product of the two on this count, catering to the needs of your lawn more fully, with a balanced nutritional profile.
And yes, it will indeed green up your grass; you just have to be a little more patient than you would when using Ironite.
Why is Milorganite leagues ahead in terms of soil augmentation? Well, for starters, it doesn’t contain any concentrated, aggressive metallic elements, whereas Ironite most certainly does, even in its new, more environmentally-viable formulation.
Milorganite is entirely natural and completely safe for your lawn, the wildlife that frequents your yard, and of course you and your family — Phew!
What’s more, although Milorganite is certainly powerful, it’s also far and away the most gentle product of the two, releasing its beneficial elements gradually into the earth so as not to cause any form of ecosystem shock.
This means that Milorganite can be used far more frequently than Ironite.
Putting it into more human terms, we can think of Milorganite as a healthy course of antibiotics, while Ironite is akin to a shot of morphine in the bloodstream — Ironite is a palliative solution, while Milorganite is a cure.
Environmentally-Safe Long-Term Lawn Care Solution
Vastly more sustainable and environmentally-kind, Milorganite meets the demands of both the soil and the root systems of your lawn, gradually improving grass health on a broad scale.
There’s very little chance of Milorganite having a detrimental effect on the landscape as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding application.
As mentioned earlier, if you use Ironite too often, it can be extremely damaging. Thankfully, there will be signs that you should reduce your usage before the disrepair has gone too far.
Keep an eye out for a gray-green hue in your lawn — That’s a good indicator that you’ve been a little too liberal with the Ironite.
It can also stain concrete pretty badly, so it’s essential that you keep it to the grass when using Ironite, and if you do spill some elsewhere, that you rinse the surface immediately.
Specific Nutrient Deficiencies
If you’re certain that your grass is lacking a certain nutrient, it might be best to look for a particular Ironite formula that caters to that one need.
Sure, Milorganite will also be able to fix the problem, but it’s more of a blanket solution to most grass needs, meaning, in this instance, many of its benefits will be superfluous.
All Ironite typically contains iron, nitrogen, chlorine, boron, zinc, copper, and a few other bits and bobs, but different variations contain different ratios of each nutrient.
If you can zone in on what your grass is lacking, you can simply find an Ironite with an appropriately balanced nutrient-density to fix the problem.
As you now know, although there are some significant overlaps between Milorganite and Ironite, they’re very much their own things and should be used to their strengths in different circumstances.
If you want the best of both worlds, you can use Milorganite as a sustainable lawn fertilizer and supplement it with a little bit of Ironite from time to time, thus speeding up the visual impact of application.
Just remember to follow application guidelines word for word, paying mind to the temperature and the current state of the grass — The last thing you want to do is create an unsafe environment or damage your lawn.