Want Greener Grass? Try Epsom Salts, Beer (oh my) & More

Everyone wants their lawn to look as lush and green as possible, it’s one of the least expensive methods for giving your home nice curb appeal (whereas a brown, patchy yard is one of the first things that can downgrade your property value).

Here’s a nifty tip to help give it a boost: Epsom Salts can be used as a natural fertilizer!

I’ve included a bit of information about why this works and added a few recipes below to help you get started (along with a secret tonic with surprising ingredients).

From epsomsaltcouncil.org (Why It Works In The Garden), the two major components of Epsom Salt are:


  • A critical mineral for seed germination.
  • Vital to the production of chlorophyll, which plants use to transform sunlight into food.
  • An aid in the absorption of phosphorus and nitrogen, two of the most important fertilizer components.

Sulfur, the other major component, is also an important plant nutrient.


  • Contributes to chlorophyll production.
  • Makes the primary nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) found in most fertilizers more effective.

To Use: Apply 3 pounds of Epsom Salts for every 1,250 square feet with a spreader, or dilute in water and apply with a sprayer (use as a fertilizer).

Another recipe from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Household Solutions By Melodie Moore:

1 cup Espom Salts
1 cup Household Ammonia

  • Watering Can Method: Combine ingredients in a clean jar. Mix 2 tablespoons of the mixture with 2 gallons of water in a watering can, and sprinkle over 150 to 200 square feet of turf.
  • Hose Sprayer Method: Mix the entire batch with enough water to make a quart of liquid. Pour the liquid into the sprayer. A quart of diluted fertilizer will cover about 2,500 square feet of lawn.


Here’s one from the book Jerry Baker’s Green Grass Magic By Jerry Baker:

3 pounds Epsom salts
1 bag 20-5-10 slow-release dry lawn food (enough for 2,500 square feet)

  • Directions: Mix ingredients then apply half of this mixture at half the recommended rate with spreader set on medium.

Secret Tonic

*First published May 1, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization

Here’s a tip from wisebread.com for healthy, green grass:

You will need:

  • One full can of regular pop (any kind-no diet soda)
  • One full can of beer (not light)
  • 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

Pop, beer, dishwashing liquid, mouthwash, etc., … how could you go wrong with a mix like that! I admit when I first read the ingredients, I was a little iffy about it. The post mentions the groundskeeper’s name, so I did a quick search and found this on a tv station website: KSL TV (link removed, no longer available on website).

He gets these great results with no sprinkler system and only a little fertilizer.

Tim Heffron, Lawn Tonic Expert: “I started using it about five years ago– back in Oklahoma– where it’s 100– 100 degrees every day– day in and day out.”

His secret–a formula– a “tonic” made-up of common household ingredients. A pop, a beer, a little liquid dishwashing soap- some mouthwash–and some household ammonia–all mixed in to a 10-gallon hose-end sprayer. The pop and the beer are essentially food for your lawn, and,

Tim Heffron, Lawn Tonic Expert: “The combination of the two will allow the grass–the dead grass in your lawn– help to begin to break down and to compost much quicker.”

Well–looks legit to me! Make sure to visit both sites and read the instructions and details as to why it works, very cool tip!

Good luck with your yard this summer, here’s to happy, healthy (and tipsy) green grass!

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    • Allison

    is this just for grass? would it work on house plants?

      • Corey

      Works for all vegetation.

    • Jessica

    I don’t know about house plants but it works really well on my tomato plants! I sprinkle a bit around the plants and then water them with powdered milk (prepared as the package directions with cold water).

    • Paul

    I live in Maryland n my grass is brown i heard agout Epson salt so i tryed it,my grass is still the same.I tried spreading/and mixed wih water.what am i doing wrong?

      • Corey

      Try aerating your lawn. If there is poor drainage, the soil may be compacted and not allowing water to be absorbed fully by your grass. The result is week rooting systems and dead or dying vegetation. Once you aerate, fertilize your lawn with a nice slow release fertilizer like Scotts or Vigoro. This will also stimulate the growth of new grass as well. You should see noticeable results in roughly 2 weeks. good luck.

      • Junk Chuck

      This helps, but it’s not magic. Cut your grass high in hot, dry weather–no lower than 3″. If the grass becomes stressed–the ground bakes dry and hard, or the grass rhizomes becomes heat-stressed, the lawn will go into survival mode and turn dormant. The actual grass plant is the part in the ground–what we think of as the grass is a leaf, and when the plant is stressed it goes dormant to conserve energy. Here in zone 5, we cut the grass high between memorial and labor day.

      • DTM-DennisTheMenance

      It maybe too late this Season.. Been there , Done this.. While On vacation, forgot to have neighbor water and treat my Lawn for 4 wks being Gone..
      Try 25% of your Lawn 1st– hopefully can save your Lawn and Several $100’s of Dollars.. Growing New Grass..
      1.Water your lawn- Get a Small Plastic Delli Dish, mark on it 1/4 ‘ & 1//2″ to measure Watering with your Lawn Sprinkler( A Sprinkler Wand type set to cover that 25% Area) to find out how long to Deliever the 1/4″ and then 1/2″ inch..

      2. @ 1/4″ level- Is your Soil Absorbing the Water? If not? You will have to Get out a Steel Rake and Litghtly Rake it to Get those Small Holes in that Dirt to break it up.. Water again for another 1/4″

      3. Go buy a Bag or Weed & Feed By Scotts( Turf Builder+2 ) going to Use enough to cover that 25% test area..Using a Hand Spreader( Got One? Buy One for $10 ) Take 1/2 gal Bucket, fill with the W&F and 1/2 Cupp( 4 oz) Epsome Salts… Take 1/2 can of Beer, pour it on and drink the rest.. !

      4. Take 1/2 Cup-40z of Amonia- Pour it on the granuels in the bucket, Add Liquid Sugar- Corn Syrup or 1/3rd of a can of Reg. Soda Pop.

      5. Stir it in that Bucket, then pour It into your Hand Spreader or Can spread it out with your Hand… Only that 25% area..

      6. Rewater again for another 1/4″ of water and then Water it the Same 1/4″ every Other Day if Hot and Dry… Every 3 days if Normal and None if oyu get 1/4″ of Rain..

      7. After 1 week> Ck for Green grass growing up and if does? You safe to now do the other 75% of your Lawn… and May not be bad Idea to Add some Grass Seed with that Spreader for the other 75% of your Lawn..

      8. If you can? Install a Pop Up Under ground Watering System..the Newer ones for $25 spray 360 degrees and out 25 ft! Ck on Line for them.. and Water your Lawn 1/2″ water 2x a Month .. = Every Other Week =1/2″ watering, normally take 2 hrs_ Use a Manual water timer> cost only $10

      For Plants? Add Similar mixture and if Live Near a Lake, go get 5 Gals of Lake Water( Fish Water) use that for watering your Plants Once a Week..with your Home made Miracle Grow Mixture.. and buy Jerry’s books..I own all of them..They can be Pasted Down in your Family.. Get book Covers or wait till they are on CD’s..Tell your Kids( adults) Read the section about what your going to do 1 week ahead of time..

    • leigh

    the tonic recipie i will definately be trying! We live in Kansas and our weather is just like Oklahoma….105 degrees day in and day out….grass will go dormant from the heat….right now it is so sad looking….definately doing this!!!!! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

    • Chinda

    Just tried Tim Heffron’s green grass tonic recipe this morning for the first time. I’m in California and it’s October…I am using this recipe on my sod that was put in late spring of this year. I have some spots where the grass is not that thick and green..I am hoping this recipe will take care of that. Instead of using a 10 gallon hoe sprayer, I used my empty Miracle Grow garden feeder hoe sprayer. I mixed the recipe exactly as instructed but in a container then poured into the sprayer. Also, mixed some extra in a soda bottle to use in three weeks. If I see there’s sign of improvement since I sprayed this thing from today I will continue to use this regularly….fingers crossed X

    • gdlincoln

    Would like to know how this worked and if the grass stayed green.

      • Corey

      I do it faithfully. Go to a dollar store and pick up a few boxes of epsom salt. I spread it on forecasted rain days since rain water is nature’s best solution. My lawn is the envy of our subdivision. I can literally walk on my grass barefooted. Not to mention the salt repels ants, slugs and other pests. You really should try it. Your lawn will thank you.

        • lin

        ahh! dollar tree. Good idea. always thinking 😉 thanks for the tip

        • Micah

        Just trying to get this straight. I have about a 1,500 sqft lawn. I can use my scotts lawn spreader to do this? Grab 3lbs of epsom salt, pour into lawn spreader and spread it around your lawn on a day that it has rained or is going to rain? Thanks

          • The Grass Man

          FYI- I would do this the 1st and 2nd Month :
          Is it going to Rain 1/2″ Rain or More Or You Going to Water/Sprinkler Right?

          1- Get your Weed & Feed,
          2- 2 lbs of Epsome salt and Mix
          3- 1/4 a cup of Amonia and Sprinkle /pour that into your Grauel Mix
          Mix all 3 together ( stir) and your ready to go

          A Make sure your Watering at least 1/2″ Water a Week on that Lawn!

          During July & August? I watered Every Week– So The 2nd yr? I Installed Pop Up Sprinklers and a Manual Timer.. Got tired of Pulling out the hoses and Wand Sprinkler..

    • Tessa R.

    Can I add epsom salt and scotts turf builder weed and feed at he same time? Or will that kill my lawn?

      • Corey

      Will not kill your lawn.

    • ymurphy

    Yep, it works, for any who doubt…I can send you a pic of a week’s growth…

    • Twins4me2

    I used the tonic lady summer in north Texas. Worked like a charm, my grass was browning due to the heat and a few days after the tonic it started getting green. I’m waiting for the temps to rise at least to 85 before I start again I can’t wait!

    • Greg

    What does the pop and beer do ?
    Is this process safe for dogs on your lawn ?

    • Sheryll & Critters.

    I also want to know what the pop does? I don’t ever buy pop, so wondering what it is in it that is needed? I was wondering if just a bit of sugar would work instead? I can see beer, it has yeast and malt and good stuff, but POP?

    I want to do this TODAY, so if anyone can tell me, please do?

      • Ronnie

      you need the concentrated sugars in the pop to break down the brown spots in the yard. and stimulate root growth. that’s why its so important to use regular pop for this application. also their is something in the carbonation that helps but I forgot why. This Recipe is nearly 30years old and the person that came up with it is Jerry Backer. His full books can be found on Amazon.com

    • Big Al

    For the last ten years I have added epsom salts and sugar to Scotts weed and feed for my lawn and have great results. After aerating, I create the mix in a wheelbarrow and lay everything down with one application at the start of the season (April, in NJ). I know it sounds strange, but after you try it one time, you will be a believer, too. I apply this mix April, June, August, and October faithfully.

      • JoAnne

      What is your recipe for your mixture? How much Epsom salt and sugar to the weed and feed? Also, do you use the bag (dry)weed and feed or liquid?

    • annette

    Can you put epsom salt on new sod?

    • Sam

    I have the most terrible lawn in the neighbourhood, due to brown and bald patches. I gave a lot of fertilizer, guano and water, but without any success. Epsom salts will now be my last resort for a beautiful lawn.
    My shrubs and trees also grow very slow, so I will try Epsom salts on them as well.

    • Cassie

    Wouldn’t the ammonia kill your grass??? I would love to try this, but I’m scared that it would kill it!!

      • Tim

      Soda{I use Coke} adds sugar to the soil ..Grass loves sugar .You can also use Apple cider or mollassis.I hope I spelled that right.

    • angie

    Anyone have pictures of the results

    • Eddie Champion

    Is there a substitute that I can use instead of 1 can of beer?

    • Kelly

    I tried the secret lawn tonic on brown spots on my lawn last year and it worked! This year I have a lot of new growth in those areas as well.

    • BIG MAC

    Ever wonder why there are large green patches of grass in the easement area near sidewalks? This is the urine (high in PH and ammonia)from animals that pee on the grass in these areas. The same is true when adding ammonia to your fertilizer recipe. The Ph level changes and spirs on growth and very green grass

    • Julie

    If you are mixing in a hose end sprayer with dial settings, how much Epsom salt and what setting?

    • Julie Cass

    If you are going to use Epsom salt in hose end sprayer with a dial, how much Epsom salt and what setting?

    Also any idea of what setting for a Scotts drop spreader. I tried to look up this on both sites and other places on the internet and got nowhere.

      • Joann Mason

      My hose end sprayer has a dial for teaspoons, tablespoons, and ounces per gallon of water. How much of the beer recipe do I use ??

    • Julie

    Also what dial setting for the yard tonic on the hose end sprayer?

    • Cheryl Lipka

    recently completely seeded my entire lawn after killing all the weeds that once were my lawn…
    Grass is just starting to grow…
    QUESTION… How Soon is it safe to use this treatment on my lawn…??..

    • Dave


    We live on just over an acre (actual amount of grass is unknown). I’m going to buy a tow behind sprayer and want to spray diluted Epsom…what is the Epsom salt per gallon of water ratio and how many gallons per 1000sq feet?


    • Michelle

    I tried this on my grass and it look like it died, I did the 2nd one just yesterday (3 weeks later) hoping to see some changes
    I’m in charlotte nc

    • Tim

    The main ingredient in all fertilizer is ammonia…It is what makes your grass green.

    • Tim

    I live in Louisiana where the heat is unbearable…My yard is he greenest yard in town also I can sit outside at 1 clock at night and no mosquitoes…

    • Margaret Taylor

    i have a lot of thatch in my yard,is there something i can use to get rid of it?

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