Scotts Green Max Lawn Food vs Milorganite: Is One Better?

Adding nutrients to the lawn is an integral part of an annual yard care routine, but the many kinds of fertilizer that are out there can overlap and deliver more nutrients than necessary.

When it comes to Scotts Green Max Lawn Food and Milorganite, both green up your lawn, but in different ways, and one will be better than the other at different times.  Milorganite supports good roots and green blades, whereas Scotts focuses on blade growth as well as color.  These products can interact with one another, so it’s best to not use them at the same time rather space out their applications over the season.

What Is The Difference Between Scotts Green Max Lawn Food and Milorganite?

The big difference between the two products is the form, amount, and types of nutrients that result in a strong, healthy lawn.  Scotts Lawn Food has an NPK of 27-0-2, with a 5% iron content.  Milorganite, on the other hand, has an NPK of 6-4-0 with a 2.5% iron content.

Green Grass

Scotts higher level of nitrogen and iron is meant to deliver a powerful greening and growth effect.  The iron will help the grass make more chlorophyll, with plenty of nitrogen available to be absorbed.  The potassium content helps the grass build strong cell walls and grow its blades quickly, using the abundant energy produced with the nitrogen.  This makes it a great boost for mid-season growth and color.

Milorganite has a lower percentage of nitrogen and iron than Scotts, but it is 4% phosphorus, with no potassium.  The phosphorus supports the grass’ root growth and is best applied in the early spring or early fall.  The nitrogen and iron will be available for the grass to absorb slowly over a couple of months as it establishes itself.

Scotts Lawn Food and Milorganite Are Targeted Formulas

Neither Scotts nor Milorganite are an all-purpose fertilizer.  Scotts will support green color and fast blade growth, while Milorganite supports root growth with a slow release action.  Over-application of either can result in too many nutrients that can burn the plant’s roots or make other nutrients unavailable.  Too much nitrogen may also encourage the growth of weeds in addition to grass.

This is also true for Milorganite, which contains phosphorus, an element that will make iron present in the soil unable to be absorbed.  This is because phosphorus raises the soil’s pH level, which makes it less acidic, and bonds the phosphorus molecules to the solid soil particles.  However, calcium is most available in neutral to alkaline soil, so too acidic of soil will make calcium unavailable.

The pH balance is important to monitor in addition to the nutrient profile since pH has an important effect on whether nutrients are available, or not, or in toxic quantities.  An unbalanced pH can also affect the soil microbes and other life in the soil, that is important for nutrient availability and grass health.

Milorganite All-Purpose Eco-Friendly Slow-Release Nitrogen 6-4-0 Fertilizer, 32 Pound Bag - for Lawns, Flowers, and Gardens
  • You don’t have to worry about streaks, stripes, or accidentally burning your lawn when you use...
  • Milorganite contains virtually no salts, so it won’t burn your lawn, trees, shrubs, or plants,...
  • Milorganite's iron greens without staining. Grass needs iron for the long-lasting, deep, vibrant...
  • Milorganite’s slow-release plant food formula provides nitrogen and other nutrients for up to 8-10...

Milorganite Is Carbon-Based, Scotts Lawn Food Is Synthetic

Milorganite is made from organic matter (however, it isn’t a certified organic fertilizer rather, it is produced from once-living, carbon-based matter): it is made of a dead bacteria that provides a source of nitrogen and phosphorus as a soil amendment.  The lower concentration and slow release of nutrients is a result of its natural structure.

Scotts Green Max Lawn Food is synthetic, meaning it is a concentrated form isolated from a source of the nutrient.  Among other ingredients, Scotts formula includes ammonium, a source of nitrogen.  The high concentration of the isolated nutrient makes it available in abundance and in granular forms; this is released over several weeks, similarly to Milorganite.

Pros And Cons For Scotts

Scotts Green Max Lawn Food - Lawn Fertilizer Plus Iron Supplement Builds Thick, Green Lawns - Deep Greening in 3 Days - Covers 10,000 sq. ft.


  • supports blade growth
  • high concentration of nitrogen
  • high iron content supports vibrant green


  • doesn’t support root growth
  • doesn’t supply phosphorus
  • over-use can burn the roots or stress the grass by promoting too much blade growth at the expense of the health of both the blades and roots

Pros And Cons For Milorganite

Milorganite 32 lb. Slow-Release Nitrogen Fertilizer


  • supports root growth
  • supports green color
  • slow release for consistent delivery


  • doesn’t support blade growth
  • doesn’t supply potassium
  • over-use can prevent iron availability in the soil, leading to deficiency and low chlorophyll production, among other reduced vital processes

Scotts Lawn Food And Milorganite Are Granular Fertilizers

Solid fertilizer products like Scotts Lawn Food and Milorganite are both easy to apply in a broadcast spreader.  Both stay in the ground over longer periods of time than liquid fertilizers, so their effect may take longer, but it will be steady and consistent.  Liquid fertilizers are best for boosts and immediate results, whereas solid fertilizers, whether synthetic or organic, are slower release, medium-term solutions.

When Should I Use Scotts And When Should I Use Milorganite?

Deciding on the right fertilizer to green your lawn should begin with a soil profile test to check the nutrients and pH level of the soil.  Generally, Milorganite should be applied at the start of the spring or fall growing season to support strong roots, and Scotts Lawn Food should be applied mid-season in spring, summer, or fall as a booster for growth.

As mentioned earlier, too much Milorganite can inhibit iron absorption and result in low chlorophyll production, and too much of Scotts nitrogen too early will burn young roots.

Scotts Green Max Lawn Food F - Florida Fertilizer, 10,000 sq. ft
  • Feeds for up to 3 months
  • Deep greening in 3 days
  • Okay to re-enter lawn immediately after product is applied
  • Florida only

Can I Use Scotts Green Max And Milorganite Together?

Since these products are targeted formulas for different results, they should be applied at different times.  If you apply them at the same time, the phosphorus in Milorganite might affect the absorption of the iron Scotts is providing, and Scott’s quick-release nitrogen content might stress the young roots before they can absorb the phosphorus from the Milorganite.

How Long Does Scotts Green Max Take To Work?

Scotts Green Max Lawn Food says it begins to work in 3 days, and users usually see substantial greening within the same week of application.  The concentrated, synthetic fertilizer provides a consistent supply of high amounts of nitrogen that the plant can use immediately.

Milorganite, on the other hand, may take a couple of weeks for noticeable greening to occur since it’s an organic material that must be decomposed.  Contrasted with Scotts, it provides a lower amount of nitrogen, although it remains in the ground for a longer period of time.

Last update on 2024-07-15 / Affiliate links / Somes Images and Data from Amazon Product Advertising API