Secret Lawn Tonic Recipe From Golf Course Groundskeeper

By Paul Michael on 23 March 2007 213 comments

I am always on the lookout for gardening tips and cheats because, well, I'm awful at gardening. My local news station airs this one every year, and it has always worked wonders for my lawn. And as I live in the arid climate of Colorado, it's even more useful these days. (See also: 7 Ways to Improve the Life of Your Lawn Mower)

The recipe came from Tim Heffron, a former groundskeeper at a golf course. All you need are five common household ingredients and a 10-gallon hose-end sprayer. This recipe can be modified slightly for other less dry climates, but for areas like Colorado it works wonders. And it's a heck of a lot cheaper and more effective than the store-bought mixes.

You will need:

  • One full can of regular pop (any kind-no diet soda)
  • One full can of beer (no light beer) 12oz
  • 1/2 Cup of Liquid dishwashing soap (do NOT use anti-bacterial dishwashing liquid)
  • 1/2 Cup of household ammonia
  • 1/2 Cup of mouthwash (any brand)


I have received several emails recently asking me about the 10-gallon hose end sprayer, and if you need to add 10 gallons of water to the solution. 
The 10-gallon hose end sprayer is actually quite small, enough to fit the undiluted solution. You fill the hose end sprayer, attach it to your hose and turn on the water. The solution is mixed with water as it sprays out, automatically diluting it, and should give you enough for 10 gallons of the diluted mixture. I hope that helps.

That's it! Simple, easy, cheap and very very effective. But I already know what you're asking. How does this work? Well, Heffron explains the science behind the homemade tonic:

The liquid soap is a wetting agent, helping the formula penetrate the roots.

The ammonia promotes growth and turns your lawn green.

The mouthwash does something you would never suspect mouthwash would do. It kills the bugs and grubs.

NOTE: Do NOT use anti-bacterial dishwashing liquid in the mixture as it will kill off important microbes in the lawn and soil that help "digest" thatch.

Says Tim,

"It essentially messes-up their re-productive cycles and keeps them out of your lawn and makes it look a lot better and leaves it minty fresh," laughs Heffron. And because it's applied with the hose sprayer, it's a direct shot to your sod. "When you don't have a lot of water and we're on watering restrictions, this is another way to get the nutrients to your lawn and keep it growing."

So there you have it. My lawn is already starting to awaken from its winter hibernation here in Colorado, and it won't be long before the scorching sun will turn the neighbors' new green growth into brown, dry thatch. But with my trusty tonic by my side, my lawn will be greener than blood from a Vulcan.

Like this article? Pin it!

Tagged: DIY, Home, gardening, lawn
Average: 4.1 (142 votes)
Your rating: None

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Bread is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Guest's picture

Will this work on a vegetable garden?

Guest's picture

I live in Washington State. Will this tonic work here?

Guest's picture

will it work in California ?

Guest's picture

I was sceptical...but not anymore. It works!!! I sprayed in the morning in the height of the summer. You can actually see where I missed with the spray. Lighter green where I missed. Took about three weeks to see results. Had no idea there would be such a difference. People are commenting. I just gave out the recipe yet my neighbour. Thanks for this. I was at a loss. I also had a company coming 4 times a year to treat my lawn, but it has never looked so good!!! Deep green grass and healthy looking at last.

Guest's picture

I think we all know what a hose end sprayer is but you did tell us what setting to turn it on like 6oz per gallon

Guest's picture

For all you doubters out there, my lawn was in serious brown, patchy, condition. Mother has always used this recipe & her lawn has always been the greenest & most lucious on her block. I thought this was a long shot to try, but WOW!! My lawn is no longer brown or patchy! I've been sharing this recipe ever since!! Ingredients are so inexpensive---we did do this every 3 weeks at first, now to keep it looking nice we do this every 3-4 mos except in winter. Hubby & I true believers now! Amazing & THANK YOU for sharing!!

Guest's picture

a waste of time it made my yard turn brown and more weeds

Guest's picture

I have a couple of questions of course but of a different type.
I think we have all seen this example in peoples yards.
We have a 2 acre yard with no underground sprinkling system and I use a pull behind sprayer for my garden tractor. Do I just pour this solution into the tank and add 10 gals. of water and then spray it on the yard ? Will take a while with 2 acres but need to know.
Here is the 2 nd question.
Our daughter and husband have 2 small dogs, 1 male and 1 female and when they visit, they let the dogs out to do their thing on our yard. I've noticed over time that where the male empties is bladder, the grass is unbelievably green and growing like crazy while where the female does her thing, the grass actually turns brown and dies.
So, does anyone know WHAT in the male dogs urine is causing the reaction in the grass and can it be duplicated as a fertilizer ???

Guest's picture

my male dog leaves yellow patches, simply dog diet...currently testing different foods, on another note, giving this tonic a shot in Edmonton Canada during our July hot dry spell, 30'C predicted over the next week or 2. If this works well here I will repost back, if not I have moved on...

Guest's picture

I suffer from extreme Chemical Sensitivities. I can't use Ammonia. I get extremely sick from it. Any Suggestion on a Replacement for it? I am Wondering is Coffee or Epsom Salts would be a Good Replacement? It would be less harsh on the Environment too. Any Thoughts?

Guest's picture

how would you modify this for a more humid climate? I live in Texas where it can get quite humid in the summer

Guest's picture

Can you put this on your lawn in the wintertime? I've noticed that the moles have taken over my yard since the lawn has gone dormant. I live in the south. If not, does anyone have any other recommendations until sprin?

Guest's picture
Bob T

This lawn tip sounds EXACTLY like the homemade recipes that JERRY BAKER has! Not sure if he is even still around, but he had books on homemade remedies for all kinds of things- flowers, insects, lawns etc.