Everyday Cheapskate: Mix Your Own Lawn & Garden Fertilizer | Tips

I love a nice yard, but I hate spending a lot of money to get it this way, which is why I’m always looking for cheap, do-it-yourself ways to kill weeds, make grow flowers and nourish lawns.

I’ve discovered a few very clever tips and tricks, not the least of which is to reclassify dandelion as a hearty, low-maintenance ground cover. While you’re considering this suggestion, take a look at these clever ideas for making your own landscaping supplies.

Lawn food. In a large tub or bucket, mix 4 pounds of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) with a bag of your favorite lawn food that covers 2,500 square feet. Now feed your lawn the same amount of this mixture as recommended on the bag of lawn food. You will save a lot of money because you will only use half the normal amount of fertilizer. Plus, this formulation reduces nitrogen, which makes your lawn grow so fast. You’ll have the wonderful dark green color and better root structure, and you won’t have to mow as often.

Lawn snack. Try this on your lawn every three weeks during the summer. (At every third snack, add 1/2 cup light corn syrup or molasses to the mix.)

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  • 1 can of beer
  • 1 cup children’s tearless shampoo* (not antibacterial)
  • Household ammonia

Pour the beer and shampoo (and corn syrup when it’s the third snack) into a 20-gallon hose-end sprayer (see note). Fill the jar with ammonia and apply following the instructions on the hose end sprayer. You are going to have very happy weed.

Delicious treat for vegetables. If you want surprising growth in your vegetable garden, mix up a batch of this artillery punch. All of these smelly things go into this 20 gallon hose end sprayer (see note):

  • 1 can (12 ounces) beer
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup household ammonia
  • 1/4 cup fish emulsion (available at garden centers)
  • 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons children’s shampoo (not antibacterial)
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant tea granules

Apply to vegetables (using the 20 gallon hose-end sprayer – see note) early in the day, once in the middle of the growing season.

Electric fly killer. This is a preventive measure to ward off diseases and insects. Start using it early in the season on everything – lawns, flowers, shrubs, vegetables and fruits.

  • 1 cup antiseptic mouthwash
  • 1 cup flea and tick shampoo (make sure it contains “pyrethrum” or “pyrethrins”)
  • 1 cup chewing tobacco juice

Expect! You don’t need to start chewing and spitting to make this recipe. Enter the store and purchase a container of chewing tobacco. Throw it in an old nylon stocking or a large coffee filter, tie it up and let it steep uncovered in 1 liter of boiling water until the water becomes disgusting.

Put 1 cup with the other ingredients in your trusty 20 gallon hose sprayer (see note). Fill the rest of the pot with lukewarm water and apply to approximately 2,500 square feet. Keep children and pets away during application. Any remaining tobacco mix or juice should be clearly labeled and kept out of the reach of children.

To note: This 20 Gallon Fertilizer Hose End Sprayer is a 32 ounce (1 quart) jar with a sprayer attachment that connects to the end of your garden hose. This sprayer has a tube inside that siphons the correct ratio of tonic out of the jar as water passes through the sprayer to properly dilute the tonic with 20 gallons of water (meaning it works at a rate of 1.6 ounces of solution per gallon of water).

Mary Hunt, founder of www.EverydayCheapskate.com, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Submit comments, advice or questions on its website. She will respond to topics of general interest through this column, but letters cannot be answered individually.