Jerry Baker Fall Lawn Care

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What If I Dont Like Using Ammonia

Jerry Baker’s Year Round Lawn Care Fall End-of-the-Season Mowing

The most important aspect of this homemade fertilizer is the nitrogen content. The easiest way to get a large does of nitrogen in the home is from household ammonia. I dont like using ammonia for cleaning since many of my family members have breathing issues. So, I only use it for outdoor things like this. It is very safe outside and will not harm anything! It is much safer than many store-bought fertilizers.

Also, I have been using the same bottle of household ammonia for over a year since I only use it for this plant food and this lawn food.

Need A Simple Alternative To Mixing Up A Homemade Lawn Tonic

A Compost Tea is an excellent way to boost the vitality of all garden plants without the mess of various ingredients to create a lawn tonic.

If you have a compost pile, make compost tea by placing a quantity of finished compost in a stocking or mesh bag and let it soak in a bucket of water for a day.

Use this tea as a tonic as often as you like, with no danger to plants, people, animals or soil organisms. It can be applied to all garden plants and vegetables, and effectively works as fertilizer and supplement!

Jerry Baker America’s Master Gardener Or Master Quack

Well, the most amazing gardening shows are running all week on WETA, the local PBS affiliate – Jerry Baker’s how-to videos. He not only calls himself “America’s Master Gardener,” he’s actually trademarked the term. Takes cajones, don’t ya think? Well, that’s just for starters

Anyway, his advice for a “spring clean-up” is to spray everything with a mixture of antiseptic mouthwash, dishsoap, the juice of chewing tobacco, and any “medication” that we think is needed. And by “everything” he means lawn and all your “trees, shrubs and evergreens.” He used that nonsensical term so often during his show on the subject, I almost forgot how stupid mistaken it is. This homemade formula is supposed to start our gardens out “clean, green and mean” and is to be followed by spraying everything with dormant hort oil, followed by a combination of “any old fertilizer” to which is added sugar and epsom salts. This is not only to be sprayed on everything but also inserted into holes drilled around every tree.

Now for my questions. First, why is this guy so popular? See,his 15-year-old national radio show airs on 217 stations, he’s beenKmart’s gardening spokesman for 27 years, and he’s considered one ofAmerica’s foremost gardening authorities. Despite his folksiness, I’msurprised that his shows aren’t sending viewers running in terror fromthe overwhelming burden of continual spraying. I thought the publicwas looking for low-maintenance advice, so you see why I’m confused.

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Lawn Tonics: What Are They And Why Use Them

Certain household products that are consumed, or used for cooking, or even for cleaning, contain elements that can help plants grow.

Using the right ingredient or mixture, in the right proportion, at the right time, for the right reason, can result in a quick growth response from your grass or garden plants.

So a lawn tonic, basically, is a homemade formula of so-called natural items that stimulate, revive or correct problems with your grass. That should not be surprising. Not that long ago, the only things available to care for your plants were normal everyday products with multiple uses.

Most people today rely on common chemical products for treatments in their yard and garden. These were initially developed by companies looking for cost effective ways to produce items that would be easy to use. They were successful, since people were willing to pay for that convenience.

As claims grew of new, improved results with various chemicals, those relationships with suppliers became a dependency. Consumers relied on the manufacturers to tell them what they needed to correct all types of problems. Soon the brief labels on packages became the primary source of information for homeowners with garden problems.

The final outcome of this trend is that today many people do not even attempt to understand the nature of a product before applying it. They choose a package based on the picture and headlines.

Garden Pro Fights Back Since A Shot In The Head Ended His Career As A Vice Cop Jerry Baker Has Gained Fame And Fortune As The ‘master’ Gardener Fallen To Alcoholism And Climbed Back Up Again


Jerry Baker, known as America’s “master” gardener, used to be an undercover vice cop. When tracking down dope pushers, pimps and prostitutes, Baker’s cover was that of horticulturist.

Eighteen years ago, Baker, a 6-foot-4-inch, 200-pounder, was shot in the head while on duty. He left the Detroit Police Department and became what he had always wanted to be: a garden expert who reached a national television audience on The Merv Griffin Show and P.M. Magazine. Baker is also the author of the best-selling books Talk to Your Plants and Plants Are Like People. To quote him, he became “rich and famous.”

But by 1979, at the height of his career, Baker had become an alcoholic. His image and confidence shattered, he knew he had to rebuild his career. He has succeeded. Baker has several new books out, the latest being Jerry Baker’s Happy, Healthy House Plants. He also makes regular appearances on the Cable News Network and the CBS Morning News. He is the man who tells viewers to smack trees in spring to start the sap flowing and to spray tobacco juice on evergreens to keep bugs away.

Baker and his wife, Eileen, have been married for 35 years and have four children, ages 12 to 34.

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The Jerry Baker Lawn Tonic

  • One bottle of liquid dishwashing liquid
  • One can of beer
  • One can of regular cola
  • 1 cup of household ammonia
  • 1 bottle of antiseptic mouthwash like Listerene
  • 10 or so drops of hot sauce like Tobasco

Mix the ingredients in a bucket and apply to your lawn in some type of hose-end sprayer. The above amount should cover around 5000 square feet. Hose end sprayers vary, so you may have to move fairly quickly as not to run out.

Here is my understanding as to what these ingredients do:

  • The dishwashing liquid breaks up the oily film on the surface of your lawn’s soil. This allows water to reach the deeper grass roots for a healthier lawn. It will also allow the other things you do to go deeper in the soil. Dishwashing soap is also distasteful to insects and critters.
  • The yeast in the beer feeds on the sugar in the soda and helps to break down thatch.
  • The ammonia is liquid nitrogen for a greening boost.
  • The mouthwash helps fight lawn diseases.
  • The hot sauce is an insect and critter repellent.

I apply in the spring and fall and have had great results. The following picture is of our lawn.

Why Is Beer Used For Homemade Lawn Food

Beer is a unique item to add to your soil. Since it is fermented, it adds beneficial chemicals to the soil that aide in healthy bacteria growth. It also distributes nutrients to the grass.

If you have treated your lawn with chemicals before, beer can help restore the natural bacteria. Do not use any other alcoholic beverage like wine, liquor, or other drinks!

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Secret Lawn Tonic Recipe From Golf Course Groundskeeper

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I am always on the lookout for gardening tips and cheats because, well, I’m awful at gardening. My local news station airs this one every year, and it has always worked wonders for my lawn. And as I live in the arid climate of Colorado, it’s even more useful these days.

You will need:

  • One full can of regular pop
  • One full can of beer 12oz
  • 1/2 Cup of Liquid dishwashing soap
  • 1/2 Cup of household ammonia
  • 1/2 Cup of mouthwash


  • Pour into 10-gallon hose-end sprayer
  • In high heat, apply every three weeks

Says Tim,

Summary: Tonics For Lawns Are Ok

Jerry Baker’s Year Round Lawn Care Fall Final Feeding

To recap our initial questions about lawn tonics:

Effective? They can be, especially for lawns in poor condition.

Safe? If you are sensible about what you use, and how, when and why you use it avoid substituting products you are not familiar with be cautious and willing to do more research before you try something unknown try a small area first to test it.

Practical? That depends on your priorities and where you care to spend your time and money. Do keep track of your costs for the size area you treat, and your time investment for a season, and compare that with the option of quality organic fertilizer.

Necessary? Many home lawns may need a boost. Lawn tonics are one way to do it. Like most other problems however, it is always best to determine the nature or cause of the need. Treat the problem and not the symptoms if you want long term success with your lawn and garden endeavors.

To further understand the implications of various ways to care for your lawn, read the helpful series of articles on Lawn Fertilizers


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How Fast Does This Work

For healthy yards, this is a subtle way to nourish soil and grass. It will allow your lawn to stay healthy with good bacteria.

For poor quality grass, you might see a difference in a few weeks with proper watering.

This is meant to be a long-term treatment that will continue to nourish grass and soil. It helps recover chemical usage that can kill good bacteria overtime.

Cheap Safe And Incredibly Effective Homemade Lawn Food


This post may contain affiliate links. These help support this website.

I am excited to share this post with you today! This is a cheap, easy and very effective homemade lawn food that you can use in place of fertilizer.

One of our most viewed posts last year was this homemade plant food recipe .

What readers enjoyed most, was the science backed aspect of how it worked!

I love hearing all of your success stories on it too! In fact, my father in law uses this exclusively in his garden now.

If you have a success story from the eBook or another chemistry solution, please send us an email to let us know!

First, lets talk about this recipe, then we will share with you the amazing chemistry behind why this works so well!

Remember to always test small areas first before use. Please use caution around other plants, this is ONLY for grass!

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Any Jerry Baker Tonic Fans

A1-GrassThere is unrest in the Forest, there is trouble with the Treesfor the Maples want more sunlight and the Oaks ignore their pleas..

Originally posted by Grassmechanic Besides, anyone who pours perfectly good beer on their lawn instead of in themselves is in serious need of help

Trees Shrubs & Evergreens

Jerry Baker

Q: I’ve got a problem with bagworms all over my favorite evergreen tree. What should I do?

A: Picking off the bagworms is your best bet if you’ve got just a light infestation. However, for heavier infestations, you’ll want to use a biological control containing BtK. This is best used when the worms are small. If the worms are larger and you find that you do need a chemical control, you can use an insecticide containing pyrethrin to get rid of ’em. Keep in mind that it’s best if you can get to ’em before late August, which is when they begin to pupate. Once they pupate, they will be protected from the controls.

Q: I’m having problems with black, sooty mold appearing on some of my trees. What can I do about it?

A: This is actually an indication of an insect problem. Black, sooty mold often appears when there is a problem with sucking insects such as aphids, scale, whiteflies, or leafhoppers. They secrete a “honeydew” substance that encourages the mold growth. Taking care of the insects is the best solution. Spraying with a horticultural spray oil can help for scale. Using a good liquid fruit tree spray, or an insecticide containing pyrethrin, may help for the others depending on the type of tree and bug that it is. The folks at your local garden center can steer you in the right direction. Once the insects are gone, the sooty mold will eventually wash away. To speed it along, wash the trees down with 1 cup of dishwashing liquid in your 20 gallon hose-end sprayer.

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The Negatives About Ingredients Or Mixturesin Lawn Tonics

One mistaken assumption is that a recipe containing all natural ingredients must be safer to use than chemical products. This is a potentially dangerous belief. Just because you wash your hands with it in your kitchen doesnt imply that dish soap on a lawn is a safe or good idea. Plants can also overdose on ammonia. Another example is vinegar, useful in the kitchen, quite deadly for many plants. (Read “Vinegar As A Weed Killer.”

One of Jerry Baker’s popular tonics for lawns includes chewing tobacco juice. This is extremely high in nicotine which is an effective insecticide, but also harms beneficial insects, earthworms and soil organisms. It also might contain tobacco mosaic virus which can infect tomatoes and some of your other prize plants!

People will often substitute ingredients. Why not? Since its a homemade recipe, shouldnt one thing be as good as another? A gardening blog related the difficulty one person faced when grass and flowers died after she sprayed them with her lawn tonic. It was determined that she didnt have a regular liquid lawn fertilizer, so she grabbed a bottle of Weed and Feed that she found in her dads garage. It was a simple mistake with sad results.

How To Evaluate Homemade Fertilizer Recipes

Tonics for lawns? Are we talking about snake oil from a traveling salesman? Or, a natural, homemade mixture to rejuvenate your grass sensibly and inexpensively?

This issue, like most everything these days, has both die-hard advocates and many scoffers. What is the truth on this topic?

Are lawn tonics effective? Are they Safe? Practical? Necessary?

There is a lot of ambiguity about these mixtures. What is it they do, and how do they do it?

Lets take a look at some of the common recipes, and talk about what the individual ingredients have to offer. Much of what they suggest sounds good, and used judiciously can be helpful.

There are a few cautions and concerns, however, that should be considered before you decide if this is an approach that makes sense for your situation.

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Are Tonics For Lawns Necessary

Tonics may produce fantastic results for some lawns.

  • Perhaps an early spring application stimulates growth before normal conditions kick the process in gear.
  • Perhaps a fall application helps a lawn recover from the stress of a hot season.
  • Perhaps grass endures drought conditions because the tonic helped the minimal amount of water penetrate deeper into the root zone.

Without discounting the validity of these results, the point remains that a healthy lawn is already situated to deal with the stresses of seasonal change and maintain a consistent great appearance without continual attention to boost or correct.

What is a healthy lawn? It is a lawn growing in soil with sufficient organic matter, a thriving population of soil microorganisms, regular addition of organic materials that replenish and maintain soil fertility, appropriate watering methods, and proper mowing and maintenance.

A person who eats primarily a poor diet of fast food and snacks, is not going to be healthy in the long term, even if he is conscientious about taking vitamin and mineral supplements.Tonics are really corrective boosts or supplements. If your lawn needs a quick fix, there is no reason why the proper formula wont give you the results you seek. But consider that as a short-sighted solution.

Investigate the alternative of quality organic fertilizers, that can be applied less frequently, but have a longer lasting contribution to the nutritional needs of your lawn.

Tonics For Lawns: What Benefits Do These Ingredients Offer

Jerry Baker’s Year Round Lawn Care Fall Clean Up

If the beer, soda, molasses, and other sugar sources all contribute carbohydrates, why the duplication? Would they work equally well alone, to make it simpler? There is a possibility that the beer, being a fermented product, adds new microbes to the assortment in the soil, but are they compatible or complimentary, or even in an active state?

This is the first problem with homemade remedies. The true interaction within these lawn tonic formulas is unknown, and the most appropriate ratios are not determined. The recipes passed from one person to the next are merely easy to remember amounts with no actual facts to support those proportions. Tonics for lawns are a smorgasbord of ideas, not a scientific development.

Next, consider that the dish soap is specified as being plain soap, not anti-bacterial. Supposedly the latter type would kill off good microbes in the soil. Why then would you add mouthwash which is typically listed as an antiseptic? It may have ingredients which would do the same thing you are supposed to avoid with using the wrong soap. If it can kill bad insects in your lawn, will it not be strong enough to eliminate the good microbes?

This leads to another concern with homemade remedies. Instructions are often inadequate, inappropriate or contradictory. One recipe says to apply to the lawn, and let it sit. Another says to water it in to the soil. This can produce very different results.

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