For those of us who have pets, we have to take into account our dogs and outdoor cats when doing lawn care. Some grass treatments require time to settle before animals should be allowed out in the grass, but Milorganite is one that is safe for animals to run around on after an application while not disturbing the healthy growth of your grass and other plants.
What Is Milorganite?
Milorganite is a biosolid fertilizer rich in nitrogen and iron. It also contains some phosphorus, but no potassium. For this reason, it shouldn’t be used as your only seasonal fertilizer. A soil test should be done before any fertilizer is applied to be sure you’re not over-applying any nutrients or leaving any out.
As a solid organic product, the fertilizer releases slowly over several months and is best applied in spring or fall. Since it takes so long to break down, it can be applied in various weather conditions (hot, cool, wet, or dry) and it won’t be rinsed away or evaporated.
This also makes it safe for use in your yard when you have pets. The solid, organic fertilizer isn’t like a synthetic liquid, which needs time to dry and to be absorbed by the grass before pets or people should be allowed on it.
How Is Milorganite Made?
Milorganite is made in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from dead microorganisms that are collected from wastewater treatment, where they cleaned water while they were alive. The dead cellular material is filtered, settled, treated, and disinfected to then be dried and processed into the biosolids fertilizer that can be used to build and nutritionally replenish the soil.
There has been some controversy on the safety of the product, which may call into question whether you feel comfortable using it with pets around. The treated wastewater used in the facility is known to contain heavy metals, chemicals, and pharmaceutical pollution that may leave trace amounts in the end product.
The company uses stringent criteria for production and has been deemed safe for use on soils by the EPA’s standards, and as a solid material, it poses little risk for transfer when touched. As with any product, it’s important to use it as directed for the safest and most effective results.
Is Milorganite Harmful To Animals?
An appropriate application of Milorganite should be safe to be walked on by your pet. After some rain or watering, it will be worked into the topsoil and the grass canopy should provide a barrier from the surface of the ground.
Like other solid fertilizers, including compost, worm castings, and granular products, your pet should avoid eating it. If you notice your dog or cat’s nose in the grass after an application of Milorganite, it might be a good idea to keep them off the yard for a couple of days while the fertilizer works into the ground.
Milorganite doesn’t have any added synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, or herbicides that might be toxic to animals. Since it’s made of organic matter, it shouldn’t harm your pets, but if consumed in large amounts, it may cause some digestive problems.
Be sure to store it where it can’t be knocked down or gotten into by your animals. If you’ve noticed your pet is in an off mood, vomiting, or in any condition following an application that makes you think they should be checked out, don’t hesitate to contact your vet.
How Should Milorganite Be Applied?
Milorganite comes in small granules and can be applied to front and back yards with a broadcast spreader, or a pull-behind solid fertilizer spreader for larger properties. It should be applied evenly and according to the application rate directions on the label.
If it’s piled on in any one spot, not only can it smother the grass, it might attract the attention of your curious pet. An application of this slow-release fertilizer should blend in and drop to the bottom of your yard so that your pets won’t even notice it.
If you’re applying Milorganite with seeds, it’s best to keep your pets out of the seeded area so they don’t injure themselves on the sharp and pointy grass seeds. When Milorganite is applied at the same time as any liquid herbicides or pesticides, pets should be kept off of the yard until the treatment dries.
When in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. It’s totally fine to keep your pets off the treated sites for a few days after applying Milorganite while it settles into the ground.