I get a lot of (mostly) good lawn questions. No big surprise there. More surprising (OK, annoying!) is how many gardening myth questions my Extension colleagues and I get – to include the use of magical, restorative tonics and elixirs for every part of your landscape. Is this yet another example of if “you can find it on the internet”….watch Jerry Baker promote it during PBS fundraising week….or see it on the local news, that it must work? While the list of lawn care myths and remedies is long, let me comment on a particularly annoying one that surfaces whenever watering restrictions are imposed here in Colorado – that of the lawn drought tonic. Tonic promoters claim their cocktail will fertilize the lawn and help eliminate “bugs”, disease and thatch – all while keeping the lawn green with minimal watering. Many websites attribute its origin to a golf course superintendent. Self-proclaimed gardening “expert” Jerry Baker, creator of a myriad of just plain weird landscape tonics, claims the recipes as his. Whatever the source, I assure you that no self-respecting golf super would ever attach his/her name and reputation to such a concoction. If you do an internet search, you can find dozens of sites promoting variations of the lawn tonic. A frequently cloned
referenced on many sites is a Denver
television station story about the tonic that ran years ago during one of our
droughts – and which was resurrected when Front Range watering restrictions
became a reality on 1 April. You can read and watch the news video here, However, to save you the time and spare you the aggravation of watching it,
here is the lawn tonic recipe. NOTE: Including it here DOES NOT imply any endorsement. To the contrary, I recommend that you don't use it.
|No "lite beer"! Would a microbrew|
The "Lawn Tonic"
-One full can of regular pop (any brand, but no diet soda)
-One full can of beer (no light beer)
-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
|No "anti-bacterial soap"...even|
though ammonia and mouthwash
are antibacterial in nature?Hmmm....?
So…does anything here have any merit when it comes to caring for a lawn? Maybe. But even if there are potentially beneficial ingredients here, one thing I’ve noticed after reviewing many lawn tonic recipes is that the general recommendation is to “apply it to the lawn”. Rarely is there any suggestion as to how large of an area that a single recipe should cover. More importantly, none of the recipes I read gave directions for what setting to use on the hose-end sprayer when applying the tonic.
|What rate setting to use? How much|
lawn area does a "batch" cover?
|A REALLY poor nitrogen |
source for plants
Interested in the science behind, and potential benefits of, common home-grown garden remedies and tonics? In his book “The Truth About Garden Remedies – What Works, What Doesn’t & Why”, Dr. Jeff Gilman, a professor and Extension horticulturist at the University of Minnesota, writes about the history and potential benefits of age-old garden remedies. In it he logically debunks any potential value of spraying your yard (or other plants) with beer and soda, and explains why using household ammonia as a fertilizer source is just damn dumb. Jeff is also a frequent contributor to another excellent hort blog that he and 3 university colleagues started a few years ago, The Garden Professors.