Secret Lawn Tonic Recipe From Golf Course Groundskeeper - Updated
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)
- Pour into 10-gallon hose-end sprayer (other sizes will work too)
- In high heat, apply every three weeks
UPDATE - 6/23/09
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 can find them in most hardware stores, and I found one for less than $10 at Amazon. 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.
"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.