Everyone loves a healthy green lawn, but fertilizers can be filled with toxic chemicals and tend to be expensive. Many homemade lawn fertilizer recipes can be quite effective on lawns, especially those in poor condition.
Although most homemade lawn fertilizer recipes are generally safe, there are also certain ingredients sometimes recommended, such as chewing tobacco juice, which is high in nicotine and great for killing harmful insects but will also kill beneficial earthworms and soil organisms. Ammonia in small doses is good for soil but can give off dangerous fumes, so do not to breathe them in and consider wearing a mask. Then too, overdosing a lawn with anything can lead to disaster, so stick to the recipes closely and don't substitute ingredients. When in doubt about any recipe, test it on a small, out-of-the-way section of your lawn first. As far as time of application is concerned, mornings are generally best. Avoid a heavy dose of fertilizer in the middle of summer that can stimulate weeds, and always apply when the soil is damp, not dry. For ease of application, most of the recipes can be poured into a watering can or liquid sprayer.
Recipe No. 1 -- Beer
The most popular recipes for homemade fertilizer by far involve beer as an ingredient. There are several variations on the theme, with the following being the most common, good for approximately 400 to 600 square feet of lawn:
Mix together 1 can of beer, 1 cup of ammonia, 1 cup of ordinary liquid dish soap, 1 cup of liquid lawn fertilizer and 1 cup of molasses.
Mix together 1 can of full-strength beer, 1 can of regular soda, 1/2 cup of mouthwash, 1/2 cup of liquid ammonia and 1/2 cup of liquid soap.
Make a solution of 2 cups of water, 1 cup of beer, 1 cup of Epsom salts and 1 cup of ammonia.
Mix together 1 cup of beer, 1 cup of baby shampoo, 1 cup of liquid lawn food, 1/2 cup of molasses, 2 tbsp. of fish emulsion and 1/2 cup ammonia.
Recipe No. 2 -- Beer-Free
Take 1 cup Epsom salts and 1 cup household ammonia and combine in a clean jar. To use, mix 2 tbsp. of the mixture with 2 gallons of water and sprinkle over 150 to 200 square feet. If you have a hose sprayer, mix up the entire batch with enough water to make a quart of liquid, which will cover about 2,500 square feet.
Recipe No. 3 -- Teas
Lawn "teas" make good natural fertilizer, although the downside is they tend to smell bad. Take a dead fish, a large pile of manure, or a quantity of compost in a stocking or burlap bag and submerge it in a bucket of water for a day or two. You can use these teas as often as you like, with no danger to plants, people, animals or friendly soil organisms.
For homemade garden fertilizer, try egg shells. Since they don't decompose easily by themselves, crush them first before sprinkling around plants or flowers, and then work them into the soil with your fingers or a trowel. Banana peels and other fruit and vegetable scraps are helpful for enriching soil, and all you have to do is chop them into small pieces and bury them. If you have a fish tank, recycle the mineral-rich water from the aquarium to water your vegetable plants or roses. If you have a fireplace, save the ashes, which are rich in potash, and spread them around bushes and trees. Potash is alkaline, so avoid using it near acid-loving plants like azaleas and rhododendrons. For acid-loving plants, sprinkle used coffee grounds instead.
How to Fertilize a Lawn
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