Up until recently, I was never in charge of our lawn but have been an avid gardener for a few years. I finally decided I needed to go over to the “dark side” and start using fertilizer. It is now fall and I have resown my lawn with some Annual Rye and K31 mix several weeks ago, and wanted to find out what fertilizer to use now. I know root structure is important now so I took the advice of the “store pro” and spread a little 6-24-24 on the lawn; it was in pellet form. I wasn’t sure of any immediate effects of the pellets and I am always looking to kill two birds with one stone, so I decided to supplement that with a concoction utilizing my 20-gallon hose sprayer. This way I can water the lawn and feed it at the same time. I usually use the standard homemade solution that can contain Epsom salt, ammonia, detergent, corn syrup, etc. Are any of these additives at any strength to do any good? What about adding beer for microbes and Listerine for antiseptic? Will the sugar help the grass in shaded areas if I apply throughout the year?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Jon: Any pellet form fertilizer is considered granular and will not provide immediate results since it has to be broken down and then absorbed. Using a liquid, foliar application of fertilizer will have more of an immediate result. The benefit to using granular is that it typically lasts longer and in some cases is easier to apply. As far as the concoction that you applied to your lawn it should not be harmful, but with no additional nutrients it is not beneficial either. Epsom salt would be beneficial if you are dealing with a magnesium deficiency and detergent can be used as an insecticide or a surfactant, neither of which you should need. Ammonia in this case would really just evaporate, and I assume you are adding corn syrup as a sugar to get the microbes moving, but with what you have mixed there are no microbes present. If you added an expensive microbrew there may be microbes but you are better off drinking the good beer and not wasting it on your lawn! There is no reason to add any type of antiseptic to your grass. There is so much information and advice out there for home gardeners and we have to be careful of the source. Anybody can put advice on the Internet but for reliable gardening information it is always best to turn to university publications or your county cooperative extension service. They work together with research universities to provide gardening information to the home gardener. www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/pubs/ay-3.pdf and www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/pubs/ay-22.pdf
are two very informative publications on home turf fertilization from Purdue University. The recommendations from your lawn care service and those in any agronomy department are likely going to differ. The best thing to do would be to have your soil tested through your county Extension office. Let them know it is for turf establishment and the results will provide you with the exact amounts of fertilizer you need for your lawn.