- Understanding Organics and Organic Lawn Fertilizer
- HOW IT WORKS
- Ammonium Sulfate As a Lawn Fertilizer
- 07 Jun Ammonium Sulfate As a Lawn Fertilizer
- Make your patchy and dull lawn, lush, green, and thick with our 6 effective and easy to make Homemade Lawn Fertilizers that are safe hazardous chemicals.
- Recipes with Epsom Salt
- 2. Ammonia
- 3. Club Soda
- 4. Baby Shampoo
- 5. Mouthwash
- 6. Molasses
- How to Use Lawn Foods for Maximum Benefits
- Tips to Remember
- Homemade Lawn Fertilizers: Does Homemade Lawn Fertilizer Work
- Homemade Fertilizers for Lawns
- How to Make Your Own Lawn Fertilizer
- Do-It-Yourself Organic Lawn Care
- DIY Organic Lawn Care
- Tools You Need for Organic Lawn Care
- Organic Lawn Care Schedule
- PIN THIS: Easy Homemade Lawn Food
- Lawn Size:
- Success stories
- Why this Homemade Lawn Food Recipe Works:
- Mild Baby Shampoo
- Club Soda
- Epsom Salt
- FAQs on Making this Homemade Lawn Food
- How fast does this work?
- What if I don’t want to buy beer or don’t have any?
- What if it’s really hot outside?
- What if I don’t have that spray attachment you mention?
- What if I don’t like using ammonia?
- Can I use any baby shampoo?
- 10 All-Natural DIY Fertilizers for Your Garden and Yard
- Healthy Pepper Patch
- Eggshells for Plants
- A Second Life for Seafood Shells
- A Little Fat for Your Roses
- Epsom Salt Method
- Here’s what you’ll need:
Understanding Organics and Organic Lawn Fertilizer
I have received a growing number of questions concerning organic lawn fertilizer in recent years. Many people would like to include it in their lawn care plans, but may not understand what is involved.
For added difficulty, the term “organic lawn care” means different things to different people. Few concepts in lawn care can elicit such a broad range of responses. For some, organic lawn care means using only natural organic materials, while completely avoiding any use of chemical lawn products. For others, it means developing a more responsible lawn care program with the addition of a quality organic lawn fertilizer.
In any case, the term “organic matter” (O/M) becomes a chief keyword in the organic lawn care dictionary. Therefore, the purpose of this page is to give you an unbiased look at the benefits, use, and limitations of organics in lawn care.
For those considering an organic program, you should become familiar with the products that are available, along with their benefits and limitations. The advantages of using organic matter to improve soil and turf quality have been well documented. However, if your plan is to use natural organics only, without pesticides or herbicides, one should not expect a perfect, weed free lawn. No lawn is immune to weed problems and several types of broadleaf weeds are very capable of growing and spreading in quality turf. Ultimately, it will depend on what you are able to live with.
Soil organic matter and plant health
The soil is the foundation of plant growth. The concept of organics has to do with enriching the soil and increasing soil flora. In nature, nutrients enter the soil as organic matter is broken down by soil microorganisms. Therefore, the philosophy behind the use of organics in lawn care is simple. In feeding the soil, you feed the soil microorganisms, which in turn, feeds the plants.
Healthy soil is home to billions of microorganisms that feed on organic matter in the soil. Organic matter could be leaves, grass clippings, manure, buried wood, shed grass roots, or almost any biodegradable material that enters the soil. As the microbes feed on the O/M, they release nutrients in a form that plants can take up through the roots. Nitrogen is one of the elements released and the element consumed by grasses in the greatest amount. For this reason, lawn fertility programs, whether they are organic or inorganic, are based on the nitrogen needs of the grass. See Developing a Lawn Fertility Program for a better understanding of lawn fertility programs.
Both, natural organics and most synthetic organics must have microbial activity to release nutrients into the soil. In fact, soil microbes are so important to plant health, that without them, the soil is thought to be dead. In nature, plants cannot live without them.
A soil test will determine the amount of organic matter that is currently in your soil. What the soil test doesn’t tell you is how much of the O/M is consumable by soil microbes. A supply of fresh organic matter in the form of organic lawn fertilizer will keep microbe populations high and healthy.
The two basic types of organic lawn fertilizer
In the lawn care industry, there are two basic types of organic lawn fertilizer that are used on lawns: natural organics and synthetic organics.
Natural organics are materials made from natural sources such as manure, plant, animal or fish by-products. One advantage of commercial organic lawn fertilizer is that it is granulated for easy measuring and spreading. Some types come in liquid form, but liquids can be more difficult to apply evenly.
The term synthetic organic is primarily a reference to “urea”, the nitrogen source found in most synthetic organics. Urea can be altered through chemical reactions with other chemicals to produce different varieties of slow release products. The page on Nitrogen Sources can give you more information on different forms of urea. Urea is classified as an organic because it contains carbon in its structure.
Synthetic organic nitrogen can be blended with natural organic fertilizers to give it a variety of nitrogen levels and release responses. These products are referred to as “bridge products”.
Note: Synthetic organics should not be confused with “inorganic” chemical fertilizers, such as ammonium nitrate or ammonium sulfate.
An organic fertilizer for all seasons
Using organic lawn fertilizer offers your lawn an organic source of nitrogen and other micronutrients. However, the nutrient content can vary greatly depending on the type of organic matter used. You should always read the nutrient analysis to ensure it has the required nutrients to meet your grass’ needs for that time of year. If the nutrient analysis is insufficient for your lawns needs, you can choose another type or you may need to supplement your lawn with an application of an inorganic or synthetic organic fertilizer.
Organic lawn Fertilizer that is high in organic matter, but low in N-P-K, can be applied in much heavier amounts. These varieties are usually labeled as summer fertilizers that typically deliver slow release forms of organic nitrogen. Summer fertilizers are extremely helpful in feeding the immense microbe populations. For most grass types, the lower nutrient content of summer organics makes it difficult to over-fertilize, even at the higher rates.
Organic lawn fertilizer developed for spring applications will often have the lowest organic matter content. A portion of the available nitrogen will be in another form. This is because most soil microbes are still inactive in early spring. Some companies offer early spring fertilizers with a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent crabgrass and other weeds from germinating.
Organic lawn fertilizer intended for fall use will have a fairly high organic matter content, but often combined with synthetic organic nitrogen sources. These are great for the higher nitrogen needs of late season cool season grasses. These fertilizers can also be used on warm season grasses during summer months.
Limitations of organic lawn fertilizer
The primary limitation of natural organic lawn fertilizer is its low nitrogen content and slow release. As stated before, the nutrients in natural organic fertilizers are released slowly through microbial activity.
Soil microbe activity levels are subject to soil temperatures with the highest activity in mid-summer. Therefore, it stands to reason that the heaviest amounts of organic fertilizer are applied in late spring and summer. As soil temperatures begin to drop in the fall of the year, so does the level of microbe activity. A fact not often explained to homeowners is that you cannot expect the grass to have any reaction from organic lawn fertilizer that depend on microbe activity, when soil microbes are not active.
The limitation of low nitrogen content can affect many grass species that require higher nitrogen levels. Bermudagrass, for example, requires as much as 8lbs of nitrogen per year. If the organic material can’t deliver enough nitrogen to sustain the needs of the grass, then it will suffer. Nitrogen is an essential element needed for chlorophyll and energy production as well as other functions within the plant. The first visible sign of a lack of nitrogen is a condition called chlorosis. This is a yellowing of the grass from a lack of chlorophyll production.
Many cool season grasses require fertilizers with the highest nitrogen content to be applied in the fall. In fact, the highest percent of nitrogen in a single application is applied after the last mowing of the year. The lower nitrogen content of natural organics combined with the lower microbe activity of rapidly cooling soil temperatures could prove to be problematic for nitrogen hungry grasses. It is during these times that bridge products excel. You will get a higher percent of nitrogen using a synthetic organic nitrogen source that is blended with a premium source of organic matter.
Using compost to modify your soil
Soils with poor structure will be improved significantly with the additions of compost. Compost can be purchased or homemade and is used when larger volumes of organic matter is needed. Where organic lawn fertilizer is used for immediate grass needs, compost is used for altering soil structure. The methods and rates of application will depend on how the materials are used and the nutrient analysis of the compost.
Coarse-textured soils are those high in sand. Adding organic matter to sandy soil will help with water retention and provide additional nutrients. Organic matter traps many chemicals and slows leaching of unused nutrients. For extremely sandy soil, a mix of soil to organic matter as high as 50/50 may be needed.
Fine-textured soils will be high in silt or clay. These soils tend to hold water well and can become waterlogged in heavy rains. Fine textured soils also compact easily, preventing air and water from reaching the roots. As a result, high traffic areas will often have very thin grass or no grass at all. The addition of organic matter worked into fine-textured soil will have immediate benefits. This is also a common problem in new home construction where the topsoil is removed.
Adding O/M to correct serious soil problems
If the soil is in need of compost and has not yet been planted, roto-tilling compost into the soil will offer the fastest results. If the lawn is over 50% weeds, you can kill all the grass and weeds using Round-up (glyphosate) or an equivalent, and then roto-till the organic matter into the soil. Try to reach at least 6 inches deep when you till the soil, if possible. Of not, then till as deep as you can. You will need to be careful to level the lawn and use a lawn roller on the soil after roto-tilling.
If roto-tilling is not a good option, there is another method. For established lawns, you will need a core aerator. First, heavily aerate the lawn, going over the lawn several times. Core aeration pulls out plugs of soil that are 2 ½ to 3 inches long. After aerating, remove the plugs that were pulled out, then spread a ½ to 1 inch layer of compost over the lawn. Care should be taken to fill in the holes. You may have to do this a few years in a row for soils with excessive clay. The page on Understanding the Soil Analysis Report has additional information on organic matter.
Organic compost also has great disease suppression abilities. However, it must be comprised of the right materials. Manures, food products and lawn and agricultural wastes make good disease fighting materials. For a better examination of what it should include along with other important information, please read the section on Organic Composts.
List of benefits at a glance
The list below offers a quick look at the benefits of using organic lawn fertilizer or applying composted organic matter to the soil.
- Compost that is worked into the soil will elevate the soil’s “Cation Exchange Capacity” (CEC). In soil science, the CEC has to do with the soil’s ability to retain nutrients. This is especially true for low CEC soils such as soils high in sand.
- Organic matter increases the water retention of coarse soils (sandy) and aids in the downward movement of water through fine soils (clay/silt).
- Compost amended soils help resist compaction in high traffic areas.
- Organic matter adds several micronutrients not often supplied in inorganic fertilizers.
- Organic matter encourages the growth and reproduction of macroorganisms such as earthworms.
- Lawns receiving regular application of organic lawn fertilizer have fewer problems with certain lawn diseases. With the addition of O/M, there are healthier populations of beneficial microbes that feed on pathogenic fungi in the soil.
- Organic matter typically has a neutral or near neutral pH. If you have slight pH problems, before correcting it, first add the needed organic matter. The organic matter may correct the soil problem.
- Organic matter absorbs and traps pesticides and other chemicals applied to the soil. The microbes that feed on the O/M also breakdown most lawn chemicals.
This is important to know. In the professional industry, it has been a practice to apply compost to contaminated ground as a means of cleaning the soil. It is a process called “bioremediation”. Certain types of organic matter are better suited for this than others. One example is compost made from sewage sludge. Sludge from water treatment plants has been observed to have this cleansing effect.
Lawn Winterization Tips and Techniques
Fall winterization is the most important time for fertilizing cool season grasses. Warm season grasses do not receive the same treatment. Find everything you need to know to winterize both cool and warm season grasses.
Secrets to Using Less Fertilizer while Improving Uptake
Developing deep and far reaching grass roots is a major factor for increased nutrient uptake and less fertilization. Find specific and proven techniques for improved root growth.
Seaweed Extract (kelp), plant hormones, fish emulsion and other organic products are increasing being used in lawns and gardens. Find out what they are all about along with a few case studies that tested them.
Organic Top Dressing
Compost top dressing is a fairly new practice for home lawns. Get helpful advice and step by step directions for the best possible results.
Using Manure as Fertilizer and Top Dressing
Livestock manure may be the original organic fertilizer. Both compost manure and raw manure can be used. Find complete information about safely using manure as fertilizer for your lawn and garden along with its benefits, precautions, and more.
The right blend of organic compost has a tremendous ability to suppress grass diseases. Find the specifics on what the compost should include, how much to apply and information on how to make it yourself.
Understanding Beneficial Soil Microorganisms
There are billions of soil microorganisms in an ounce of healthy soil. Plants cannot exist without them. Find out what types of microorganisms there are and what they do.
How to Increase Soil Microbe Populations
All plants depend on the activity of soil microbes for life. This page explains the facts on how to greatly increase their populations while exposing common myths used in organic advertising.
Plant Growth Regulators
Plant Growth Regulators are just beginning to be discovered by homeowners. They are fantastic products with dozens of uses for everything from slowing grass growth to eliminating unwanted tree fruit. Click here to discover what you have been missing.
Research and Benefits of Humic Acid
Humic acid is one of the most important components of organic matter. Check out the benetits using humates and how it is best used.
Kelp and Other Organic Biostimulants
Seaweed Extract (kelp), plant hormones, fish emulsion and other organic products are increasing being used in lawns and gardens. Find out what they are all about along with a few case studies that tested them.
Amending Clay Soils
Many lawns have problems with clay soil. The best solution for excessive clay is to amend the soil with organic matter and soil conditioners such as humic acid. This fact sheet will help understand how.
Organic Lawn Fertilizer to Lawn Care Academy Home
HOW IT WORKS
The Best Lawn Fertilizer
Unlike other organic lawn fertilizers for lawns, Revive Granules are made with DPW containing primary and secondary plant foods, lawn foods plus trace elements not usually found in conventional fertilizers or wetting agents. Revive is a perfect summer alternative and substitute for chemical lawn fertilizers that may burn turf during severe drought and heat conditions. Pick up your organic lawn care products from Revive today.
A Natural Lawn
Depending on your grass type, you will need spring fertilizers and summer fertilizers that can provide organic nitrogen along with organic matter to provide a super natural environment for maximum healthy plant growth. Most soils are not well prepared for season long success. Often times, beneficial insects, and beneficial microbe populations are missing. This can be caused by chemical fertilizers, synthetic fertilizers, pest control agents and other chemical lawn agents.
The desired healthy natural lawn is best built with organic fertilizers that provide the organic lawn food in proper amounts to build better organic matter in the soil, like feather meal, bone meal, organic nitrogen agents, and other types of organic natural lawn food, all building healthy soil for a strong root system to withstand heavy use and dry conditions.
Healthy Soil, Healthy Grass Roots
A natural organic healthy root system begins with great soil. Revive’s organic lawn food formula’s are focused on building this soil foundation. Whether your yard is an established lawn or newly planted, the grass depends on the nutrients it gathers from it’s root system. Today’s homeowner is much more aware of organic vs chemical fertilizers. As a consumer you have the choice of many types of organic lawn fertilizers. The “lawn booster” you choose will likely be chosen after you do some research. Your choices will include liquid fertilizer, slow release fertilizer, spring fertilizers, summer fertilizers and winterized fertilizers.
Ammonium Sulfate As a Lawn Fertilizer
07 Jun Ammonium Sulfate As a Lawn Fertilizer
Posted at 16:35h in Archives by grassdmin8
Ammonium sulfate is a water soluble fertilizer providing 21 percent nitrogen by weight and 24 percent sulfur. The guaranteed analysis is 21-0-0+24(S). It can be applied to lawns as a top dressing of nitrogen and sulfur with a broadcast or drop-type spreader. In areas with high pH soils, the sulfur in ammonium sulfate helps lower soil pH levels. As with other fertilizers, water the treated area well after each application.
Ammonium sulfate provides lawns with readily available nitrogen and sulfur. It helps lawns green up quickly, helps in cold soils, and is relatively inexpensive. If too much ammonium sulfate is applied, an undesirable large amount of growth may result. Grass is more likely to be burned with applications of ammonium sulfate than with slow release products, and there is a greater likelihood of it leaching off the places where it is applied. When using ammonium sulfate, monitor soil pH and add lime as needed.
Use ammonium sulfate when a lawn grass with high nitrogen requirements (such as Bermuda grass) needs a boost of nitrogen during the late spring or late summer (not late fall) grass growing season. In the spring, the Texas A&M University Extension Service advises there is usually enough nitrogen for adequate growth through several mowings. Apply a complete fertilizer first, then ammonium sulfate can be applied in 45 to 60 day intervals. The service recommends slow release fertilizers during the middle of the summer. Avoid ammonium sulfate in the fall to decrease the likelihood of diseases and winter kill.
Ammonium sulfate has several benefits in addition to providing quick grass growth and reducing soil pH levels in alkaline lawns. It is easy to store and does not melt in high humidity like ammonium nitrate, another high nitrogen fertilizer. It is produced domestically as a by-product of the steel-making industry and is not subject to price fluctuations of natural gas, a chief component in anhydrous ammonia used to make ammonium nitrate. Ammonium sulfate is also nonflammable.
Of the nutrients grass receives from the soil, more nitrogen is required than any other applied fertilizer. It is also the product that burns lawns when applied at excessive rates. Without a soil test, the Clemson University Extension Service recommends applying 1 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet for a high maintenance lawn and 1/2 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet on a low maintenance lawn. For ammonium sulfate, 5 lbs. of ammonium sulfate provide 1 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, while 2.5 lbs. provide 1/2 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
If ingested in large amounts, a material data safety sheet on ammonium nitrate recommends drinking two to three glasses of water, inducing vomiting and calling a doctor. If ammonium nitrate comes in contact with the eyes, slight discomfort is possible. Prolonged contact with the skin could cause slight abrasions. As with most fertilizers, especially high nitrogen ones, keep ammonium sulfate out of waterways and bodies of water. The fertilizer has shown it can promote algae growth.
Make your patchy and dull lawn, lush, green, and thick with our 6 effective and easy to make Homemade Lawn Fertilizers that are safe hazardous chemicals.
Epsom salts contain two elements that boost lawn grass and its lushness-Magnesium and Sulfur. Magnesium is crucial for activating chlorophyll production, and helping in the absorption of phosphorus and nitrogen, while sulfur helps plants to photosynthesize.
Learn more about amazing Epsom salt uses in the garden here.
How to Use
Sprinkle five cups of Epsom salts per 100 meter square of lawn, apply it with a spreader or spray it by diluting in water to get a lush green lawn. If you’re diluting, follow the product’s instructions.
Recipes with Epsom Salt
Epsom Salt & Ammonia
- Mix one cup each of Epsom salts and ammonia in a bottle. Add two-three tablespoons of this mixture in a watering can and spread it over 200 square feet of grass.
- Alternatively, you can mix it with equal parts water to make a liquid fertilizer for covering your entire lawn.
Supplemental Lawn Tonic
- Mix 3 pounds of Epsom salts with an entire batch of dry lawn food (20-5-10). Spread half of this mixture on the turf.
Also, check out these useful lawn fertilization tips on Michigan State University Extension.
All cleaning supplies contain ammonia in the hydroxide form. Ammonium hydroxide enriches the nitrogen and hydrogen content of the soil, thus helping the grass to utilize the soil nutrients effectively and growing greener and thicker as a result.
Spray two ounces of homemade ammonia fertilizer for every 1000 square feet of your lawn. Ensure to take note of the dosage labeled on the sprayer and walk at the right speed to ensure effective application throughout the lawn.
Precaution: Avoid using bleach with ammonia.
Recipes with Ammonia
- Take a cup of ammonia in a one-gallon container. Dilute it with water, and apply. Or, fortify it with additional ingredients for a more effective combination. You can add anything from a can of beer to half-a-cup of liquid dishwashing soap. This will help the fertilizer to stick to the grass for a longer time.
3. Club Soda
Carbonated water is full of basic elements that make up the cellular framework of plants, such as carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. It also contains sodium in the usable form that is the key activator of vital metabolic processes. Low-calorie diet soda cannot provide the same advantage and can be detrimental in high doses. As a result, it’s best to avoid this.
Recipe with Club Soda
- In a bottle, mix one can of club soda, one can of beer (12 oz), half-a-cup each of ammonia, mouthwash and liquid dishwashing soap. Spray it using a hose sprayer, once every three weeks. Read the recipe in detail here.
Tip: Coke and sprite contain excess amounts of sugar that tend to attract unwanted pests and upset the NPK ratio of the soil.
4. Baby Shampoo
Just like soap, baby shampoo helps your regular lawn fertilizer to stick to the grass blades, helping it penetrate into the soil. Make sure you don’t use anti-bacterial shampoo, else it will kill all the beneficial soil bacteria you have been counting on. Baby shampoo, in moderate quantities, also works as a weed killer.
Recipes with Baby Shampoo
Mix together a can of beer, soda and one cup of baby shampoo with 10 gallons of water. Apply the mixture evenly throughout the lawn, once or twice a month.
This recipe is an effective antidote to seasonal pests; the baby shampoo cuts through the caustic power of soda, making it easy on your turf.
Baby Shampoo & Ammonia
Mix one cup each of baby shampoo and ammonia. Add in some beer for best results and apply thoroughly. Beer, together with shampoo helps the grass to absorb vital nutrients while ammonia delivers all that the lawn microbes crave for.
Mouthwash is a must-have for any recipe that calls of pesticide power. Its fungicidal properties repel pests and insects and keep your lawn grass lush and healthy throughout the year.
Molasses, just like beer and soda, contains high amounts of sugar, which feeds soil microbes and boosts plant health. It also contains iron in usable form, which takes care of photosynthesis and cellular metabolism.
Recipes with Molasses
- Mix Epsom salts and molasses in a 1:2 ratio. Let the components dissolve and then dilute them in 2 gallons of water. Spray this solution on the soil.
How Important are Lawn Foods?
A lawn that is lush and healthy from the start won’t require high attention in the form of lawn food or liquid feed to cope up with the rigors of seasonal threats.
Lawn foods are essential supplemental soil therapies, often given as a quick fix to provide nutrients, for a recovery after the unfavorable weather conditions, or quick elimination of certain pests from your lawn.
How to Use Lawn Foods for Maximum Benefits
Applying homemade fertilizers during the beginning of spring provides a fertile ground for grass to grow.
A fall application acts as a potent stimulant to aid in growth and recovery following a particularly hot and stressful summer season. It also enriches the soil and prepares it for the upcoming harsh winters.
The monthly application helps the ground to absorb water and liquid feed better and nurtures a healthy interaction with soil microbes.
Also Read: Lawn care in winter
Tips to Remember
- Apply evenly and lightly throughout your lawn. If you’re not sure about the results, dilute it with water and test it on a smaller area.
- Water your lawn once before applying lawn food, and then again after application. This will enable faster and deeper penetration.
- Aerate your lawn before fertilizing to create a surface that will be maximally receptive to lawn food.
Read more Lawn Care Tips here!
Homemade Lawn Fertilizers: Does Homemade Lawn Fertilizer Work
Store bought lawn fertilizer can be expensive and even harmful to your lawn if applied too thickly. If you want to perk up your lawn in a cheaper, more natural way, consider making your own homemade lawn fertilizers. Keep reading for tips and homemade lawn fertilizer recipes.
Homemade Fertilizers for Lawns
There are some key ingredients you probably already have in your house that can promote your lawn’s health. These include:
- Beer: Beer is actually full of nutrients that feed both the grass and the microbes and bacteria that promote its health.
- Soda: Soda (NOT diet) contains plenty of sugar that feeds those same microbes with carbohydrates.
- Soap or Shampoo: This makes the ground more absorptive and receptive to your homemade lawn fertilizers. Just make sure to stay away from antibacterial soap, as this could kill all those good microbes you’ve been feeding.
- Ammonia: Ammonia is made of hydrogen and nitrogen, and plants thrive on nitrogen.
- Mouthwash: Surprisingly, mouthwash is a great pesticide that won’t harm your plants.
How to Make Your Own Lawn Fertilizer
Here are a few simple homemade lawn fertilizer recipes you can probably make without even going to the store (simply mix the ingredients and apply to areas of the lawn):
- 1 can beer
- 1 can non-diet soda
- 1 cup baby shampoo
- 10 gallons (38 L) of water
- 16 tbsp. (236 mL) Epsom salts
- 8 oz. (227 g.) ammonia
- 8 oz. (226 g.) water
- 1 can tomato juice
- ½ cup (118 mL) fabric softener
- 2 cups (473 mL) of water
- 2/3 cup (158 mL) orange juice
Spread any of these homemade lawn fertilizers across your lawn once every week or two until you achieve your desired look. Be careful not to over fertilize! Too much of any good thing can be bad, and a buildup of even the best nutrients can harm your lawn.
Do-It-Yourself Organic Lawn Care
You don’t need strong chemical weed killers and unnatural fertilizers to have a beautiful lush lawn. Not only are these products harmful for the environment but they’re not safe for pets or kids!
By following our organic lawn care schedule and tips below, you can be confident your lawn will be ready for barefoot kids and family picnics all summer long.
DIY Organic Lawn Care
Timing is key in organic lawn care. Below we’ve put together a schedule of what you need to do in each month. We’ve also listed some common lawn care problems, such as bare patches or brown spots in your lawn, and how to naturally fix these problems using DIY solutions!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Tools You Need for Organic Lawn Care
If you’re a new homeowner or this is your first time doing organic lawn care yourself, here are a few products and tools you’ll need to get started:
- Organic grass seed
- Organic fertilizer
- Lawn mower
- Thatch rake
- Water sprinkler
- Corn gluten for weed prevention
- Wheel barrow
- Optional: Scarifier
- Leaf blower
- Garden lime
- String trimmer
Organic Lawn Care Schedule
In March or as soon as the ground thaws enough for you to dig 4-6 inches deep, get your soil tested. A good lawn has at least 6 inches of soil.
While you can pick up your own soil test kit in the store, it’s much more accurate (and usually only $10) if you get it done by your local extension office. If you find your soil’s pH is below 6.0 add garden lime but if it’s above 7.0 add garden sulfur. The experts at your local extension office will also be able to guide you in amending your soil and which grass or plants to grow. So don’t be afraid to ask!
March or early spring is also a great time to clean up from winter by raking away dead leaves and branches. Learn how to use these in your compost pile here! Lastly, aerate your lawn. This allows water, nutrients and air to get to the grass roots after the snow has compacted your lawn tightly down over the winter.
By now, you should start your weekly or bi-weekly (depending on your grass and weather) tasks of mowing and watering. Only water your lawn when starts to show signs of drought. You can place a cup near your sprinkler to make sure your lawn gets at least 1 inch of water.
It’s a common myth that you should mow your grass very short so that it will take longer to grow back. But this actually isn’t true and will only weaken your lawn and invite weeds to grow. When you cut your lawn short, the grass blades just grow back faster in order to do photosynthesis for the roots. Ideally, for cool-season grasses set your mower blades 3.5-4 inches high and for warm-season grass set your mower lower to 2.5-3 inches.
If you can, you’ll want to apply compost two times during the year, once in April and then also in August. This is commonly referred to as top-dressing. If you have any thin or brown spots in your lawn, compost will help nourish the beneficial microbial activity in the soil to grow thick, green grass.
You’ll also want to apply fertilizer safe for organic lawns in April, July (if needed) and October. You can read our guide on how to fertilize your lawn to learn more.
Looking for the best fertilizer for your organic lawn? Here’s what Paul Wheaton from Rich Soil says about our Ringer® Lawn Restore® Fertilizer: “If your lawn needs fertilizer, sprinkle a little Ringer lawn fertilizer in the spring and fall. Why this brand? Well, there is nothing scary in the ingredients list; it is a very slow release fertilizer without salts; the company appears to have passions well aligned with my own; and it works great.”
The fall is a great time to rethatch your lawn and overseed bare patches to make sure your grass grows back strong the next year.
You don’t have to have a landscaper or buy expensive products to have an impressive lawn. By taking some time to water your yard correctly and regularly, giving your lawn the attention it needs and getting rid of stubborn weeds, you too can have a yard to be proud of. Here are a few tips from around the web to help you on your way.
Lawn Fertilizers and Tonics
According to the Scott’s Miracle-Gro Company, summer is a great time to focus on fertilizing your lawn:
Summer is tough on grass. Heat, drought, foot traffic, and insects stress it out. Feeding your lawn in the summer protects and strengthens it against these problems. Lawns in warm-season grass areas should be fed over the summer months as they grow steadily from spring to fall.
Homemade lawn fertilizers, or tonics, can work well for lawns that need a boost. Instead of buying expensive, premade products, you can utilize household items and ingredients that promote lawn growth. Here are a few recipe ideas from Rose Works for you to try out:
- Epsom Salts and Ammonia: mix together 16 tablespoons of Epsom salts with 8 ounces of household ammonia and water. Spread this evenly across the yard.
- Soda and Beer: two substances that are pretty bad for you are actually great for your lawn! Mix together 1 can of diet coke, 1 can of cheap beer, a 1/2 cup of ammonia, a 1/2 cup of liquid dish-washing soap and 1/2 a cup of mouthwash. Put this into a hose fertilizer sprayer and spray over lawn.
The pop and beer feed the lawn and the ammonia helps promote growth while the dishwasher soap works as a wetting agent that helps the water get to the roots and lastly the mouthwash kills bugs. Ammonia can kill the grass if too much is used. This mix should only be used in really warm temperatures and it can be reapplied every 4 weeks.
- Tomato Juice and Fabric Softener: this unlikely pairing can help your lawn flourish. Combine 1 can of tomato juice with 1/2 cup of fabric softener, 2 cups of water and 2/3 cup of orange juice. Distribute evenly on your yard.
Homemade Weed Killers
Take a look at some great weed killer recipes from Tip Nut:
- Vinegar: when there’s no sign of rain, spray weeds directly with undiluted household vinegar. You should be able to get rid of any baby weeds this way. If you need something for more stubborn weeds, try looking for a stronger vinegar, like pickling vinegar.
- Salt: this is a great weed killer but can also negatively affect surrounding soil. Only use salt in areas where you do not want to promote plant growth, like driveways, sidewalk cracks, underneath decks, patio blocks, etc. Mix together 1 part salt and 2 parts water and spray on weeds.
- Vinegar and Dish Detergent: mix together pickling vinegar and a squirt or 2 of dish soap in a spray bottle. Spray on weeds at the hottest part of the day.
- Liquid Dish Detergent: mix up 1 part liquid dish soap and 10 parts water. Soak any weeds with this mixture.
- Common Weed Killer Recipe: combine 1 quart of household vinegar, 1/4 cup salt, and 2 teaspoons liquid dish detergent (with no bleach) in a spray bottle. Spray directly on weeds.
Make Your Own Rain Barrel
Rain barrels can be expensive to buy, but they’re pretty easy to make on your own out of a large trash bin. Check out this video from Danny Lipford:
What are some of your best DIY lawn care tips? We’d love to hear about your methods in the comments section below. Thanks for being a Tip Hero!
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I am excited to share this post with you today! This is a cheap, easy and very effective homemade lawn food that you can use in place of fertilizer.
One of our most viewed posts last year was this homemade plant food recipe ().
What readers enjoyed most, was the science backed aspect of how it worked!
I love hearing all of your success stories on it too! In fact, my father in law uses this exclusively in his garden now.
If you have a success story from the eBook or another chemistry solution, please send us an email to let us know!
First, let’s talk about this recipe, then we will share with you the amazing chemistry behind why this works so well!
Remember to always test small areas first before use. Please use caution around other plants, this is ONLY for grass!
PIN THIS: Easy Homemade Lawn Food
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- 1 bottle of beer (it can be anything you have!)
- 1 cup mild baby shampoo (like THIS one, DO NOT use anti-bacterial)
- 1 cup club soda (any type you have or find for cheap)
- ¼ cup – 1/2 cup Epsom (NOT scented, like this one)
- 1 cup household ammonia (same as ammonium hydroxide, like this one)
- Hose sprayer with settings (this is my favorite one)
Check out this video on putting it all together! Feel free to add us to Instagram or snapchat (alexisroch) for more videos and behind the scenes.
First, combine ingredients into a big jug (I am using a leftover Silk almond milk bottle). Make sure it is something with a lid. I like to use 1/4 cup epsom salt, but you can use up to 1/2 cup of epsom salt. Both measurements are fine!
For ventilation, mix this up outside or a place with air flow (like near an open window).
Cap the lid, then add all the ingredients to a 32 oz sprayer hose container (this one is the best and affordable).
***Make sure to set it no more than 3 or 4 oz per gallon!
Next, spray evenly over your lawn. You can water within a few minutes after application. The more you water while using this fertilizer, the more the solution will soak into the soil and feed roots.
Always ALWAYS test a small portion of your lawn. Everyone has a different climate, so please test to see how it works first.
Apply every 2-3 weeks when daytime temperatures are below 85 or 90 degrees. If you aren’t getting rain, make sure to water your lawn while using this.
This amount will cover a small yard using the hose sprayer. If you get a lot of rain or water often, you can use this to do 1/2 of your yard and make another bottle for the other half. For large yards, you will need to make a few batches.
Remember to test your grass first!
I’ve had many emails and comments from readers who have used this and love it! I also had a reader share his before and after on instagram. Just search #chemistrycachet on instagram
Why this Homemade Lawn Food Recipe Works:
Beer is a unique item to add to your soil. Since it is fermented, it adds beneficial chemicals to the soil that aide in healthy bacteria growth. It also distributes nutrients to the grass.
If you have treated your lawn with chemicals before, beer can help restore the natural bacteria. Do not use any other alcoholic beverage like wine, liquor, or other drinks!
Mild Baby Shampoo
The key to this is allowing the homemade lawn food to adhere to the soil and grass, and it also helps the soil open up to soak in nutrients. Make sure to NOT sure anti-bacterial soap. You want to keep all the natural bacteria. I have found baby shampoo to be the most mild form of soap without suffocating the grass. Remember this homemade weed killer? It contained dish soap which allowed the solution to stick, and helped the plant to absorb the vinegar, salt, and arthritis rub which killed it quickly.
This works the same way, but we are using a gentle soap and helping the soil and grass absorb vital nutrients.
Club soda is another unique option. Carbonated water is a fantastic source of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, good sodium like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). This is very important for grass growth and helps for a deep green lawn.
Chemist Tip: I have read about people using sprite or coke for plants…it is the same principle that helps this work, but those drinks contain a large amount of sugar. This isn’t good for soil and attracts bugs. Avoid those problems by using club soda instead!
Grass and soil benefit from magnesium and sulfate. Epsom salt is a great way to get a deeper green for plants and grass.
I have had questions about ammonia in the past. To clarify this is HOUSEHOLD ammonia you find in the cleaning section of your grocery store (like this one). The label will read ammonium hydroxide. Ammonium hydroxide is a solution of ammonia and water which means it will be safe and diluted for household use. It is one of the best ways to get a large dose of nitrogen to plants!
I did a small portion in a few patches of our back field that have never been treated so I could show you a before and after. What I noticed most is the grass gets a deeper green, and the grass starts growing thicker!
Sadly, we’ve had some not so nice comments about this lawn food recipe. I can assure you, I NEVER share anything unless I personally used it. I walked outside and took a picture of my lawn just now. We’ve had 100+ weather all of July in Texas with minimal rain. We water about once per week due to water restrictions. The only fertilizer I use is this homemade lawn food.
FAQs on Making this Homemade Lawn Food
This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on your climate, grass quality, and type of grass. We’ve worked out the math for another reader who has a very large lawn. For this one gallon batch at 3 oz per gallon, it covers roughly 1000 sq ft of lawn.
I prefer to answer this question by saying you lightly spray your yard with this solution, then water thoroughly. You can get a feel of it and use it like you would any other liquid fertilizer.
How fast does this work?
For healthy yards, this is a subtle way to nourish soil and grass. It will allow your lawn to stay healthy with good bacteria.
For poor quality grass, you might see a difference in a few weeks with proper watering.
This is meant to be a long-term treatment that will continue to nourish grass and soil. It helps recover chemical usage that can kill good bacteria overtime.
What if I don’t want to buy beer or don’t have any?
This solution CAN work without the beer, but it really helps with soil quality which helps grass grow better. I recommend using it for the full benefits of this homemade lawn fertilizer.
What if it’s really hot outside?
As with all fertilizers, even store-bought, you don’t want to use this when temperatures are above 90 degrees. Nitrogen can scorch grass in extremely hot weather. That is why spring is such a great time of year to feed your lawn!
If you aren’t now sure, test it on a small area!
What if I don’t have that spray attachment you mention?
This attachment is the easiest way to use a liquid fertilizer. You can also add 3 oz of the fertilizer to one gallon of water. Carefully water over the lawn with this. Just be cautious to evenly distribute over the lawn.
What if I don’t like using ammonia?
The most important aspect of this homemade fertilizer is the nitrogen content. The easiest way to get a large does of nitrogen in the home is from household ammonia. I don’t like using ammonia for cleaning since many of my family members have breathing issues. So, I only use it for outdoor things like this. It is very safe outside and will not harm anything! It is much safer than many store-bought fertilizers.
Also, I have been using the same bottle of household ammonia for over a year since I only use it for this plant food and this lawn food.
Can I use any baby shampoo?
YES! Get the cheapest you can find, it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Just remember to make sure it is NOT anti-bacterial 🙂
Enjoy feeding your lawn!
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10 All-Natural DIY Fertilizers for Your Garden and Yard
Healthy Pepper Patch
This advice definitely sounds like an urban legend, but it’s such an easy way to grow fantastic peppers that you have to try it. A matchbook buried near the roots of each pepper plant will transmit sulfur, a great fertilizer for them.
Eggshells for Plants
Save eggshells for your garden plants. Just crush them up and spread them around the stems of your vegetables or flowers, then cover with a small amount of soil. They’ll not only provide fertilizer, they’ll help keep slugs and snails away. You can also use water that you’ve used to boil eggs in—when you’re finished cooking, just use the cooled, nutrient-enriched water to water your plants!
A Second Life for Seafood Shells
Shells from mussels, clams, or other shellfish are also great for gardens. Just crush them up and spread in your garden like the egg shells. The calcium in the crushed shells is also great for grass!
A Little Fat for Your Roses
Rose bushes can be one of the hardest plants to grow, but an extra dose of nutrients can help. A small amount of fat drippings buried at the base of a rose bush will keep it healthier and make it bloom more frequently. Just beware that this can be a terrible tip if you have a dog who likes to dig!
For more great outdoor tips, check out our Gardening and Yard Tips Pinterest board, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for our Tip of the Day!
The suggestions offered here are for informational purposes only. The Authors and Publisher do not accept liability for damages arising from the use, attempted use, misuse or application of any of the suggestions included on this website.
image courtesy Scott Robinson via Flickr
We put fertilizer on our lawns and water them, then we complain about having to cut the grass! I don’t get it.
But a lush green lawn is a beautiful thing. It takes a lot of work to maintain a lawn. Back in ‘the day,’ my husband and I hired a service to come out periodically and spray heaven-knows-what on our lawn to keep it weed-free and green.
Whatever they used, it worked. It was not only expensive, but I always wondered exactly what it was they were putting on my lawn. They gave me a report of what treatment they used each time, but it might as well have been in Greek. I didn’t have a clue.
Sure those chemicals were deemed ‘safe’ by the relevant government agencies. And you know how much I trust government agencies with regard to product safety (wink). I’ve shared my opinion and the facts about the FDA already.
Staying true to only using healthy products and ingredients in my home environment, I took to researching how to fertilize my lawn using natural ingredients. I found many unique methods, some of which were:
1. Various combinations of beer, ammonia, soft drinks, and mouthwash. I don’t think so. The hubster refused to use “perfectly good beer” on the grass. I hate ammonia, just hate it. I don’t use commercial mouthwash anymore nor drink soft drinks, so why should my lawn? Not to mention, pets and children walk on your lawn.
2. Coffee grounds. This is a great idea. This method requires a lot of coffee grounds and a lot of work (I’m still in the instant gratification mode). I’ll save this method for fertilizing individual plants.
3. Composting. This is where you save food scraps, grass clippings, and even old newspaper and such. Okay, I know this is REALLY environmentally friendly and all, but YUK. In my tiny little yard, there is no place to compost and I already have 3 required waste disposal cans to keep up with. I sure don’t need another one! Not crunchy enough yet for this method, apparently.
Epsom Salt Method
The method I like the best is one using epsom salt. Epsom Salt is not really salt per se. Okay, chemically Epsom Salt is Magnesium Sulfate which is a salt, but don’t confuse it with NaCL, Sodium Chloride aka Table Salt. You put Table Salt on your lawn and it will be dead in short order. Not the same as Epsom Salt.
Magnesium and sulfur are two naturally occurring minerals that are major components of Epsom salt. Magnesium is a critical mineral for seed germination. Plants use it to produce chlorophyll and as an aid in the absorption of phosphorus and nitrogen. Sulfur is also a key element in plant growth, helping to produce vitamins.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Epsom Salt
- Sprayer attachment to a garden hose (or use a pump garden sprayer).
- Add 2 Tbl of Epsom Salt for a gallon of water. Mix well.
- Add the solution to your sprayer attachment (or garden sprayer) and spray your lawn lightly.
- Water your lawn. Those automatic sprinklers would be a really good idea about now.
That’s easy enough, right? This can be used on houseplants, roses, tomato plants, etc.
What is your favorite natural fertilizer recipe?
Here’s your simple change for the day: Make your own Homemade and Healthy Lawn Fertilizer.
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