Grass will go green with this lawn cocktail

Many of us around the country had to deal with major lawn problems during 2007, not least of which were those dead-looking, dry, brown patches caused by drought or semi-drought conditions. Recently, I received an e-mail from Michael Gray whose home is in Florida but is currently stationed with the United States Air Force in England. He had read some previous Plant Man columns on the subject of sorry- looking lawns and wanted to pass on the recipe for a "lawn cocktail" that he has used successfully both in the USA and England. You might want to clip and keep this column handy in case those lawn woes return next year. COMMENT: "I've been telling a buddy of mine of a Lawn Cocktail that I use on my Florida lawn, and bushes. I found this on a handyman-written Web site by a retired agriculturalist who is now a grounds keeper for a golf course. It works... it really works! Driving down the street, you can spot my lawn as it is the only one in the neighborhood that is not green like the others...but a deep Emerald Green.
"I use the 20-gallon sprayer, the kind you hook up to a garden hose. Add a can of beer (it cannot be a 'light' beer), then 2 cups of a liquid Joy dish detergent. You have to see through the soap, it cannot be opaque or translucent. Add one half cup of liquid lawn food and one half cup of clear corn syrup. Then fill the rest of the container with household ammonia & stir. Apply this after you mow the lawn. (In my part of the country it was recommended that you didn't add the corn syrup or liquid food ...possibly due to the climate.)
"But it works! I even spray my bushes. It keeps all the aphids and unwanted bugs off, has my crape myrtles blooming more, the leaves on other bushes are darker and flowering plants explode in comparison to the surrounding neighbors.
"Being in the military and constantly overseas, my greatest advice to our readers: Do not do this if you are leaving town! Under conditions such as ours, you might have to mow your lawn twice a week due to growth!" - T/Sgt Michael P. Gray, 56RQS Pararescue Team ANSWER: Thank you, Mike. I hope our readers will keep this recipe handy for next year and will let us know if it works for them, too. Your questions and comments are always welcome. Send an e-mail to My wife Cheryl fielded this next question from a reader who is on the horns of a basil dilemma. QUESTION: "I have fresh basil growing outside on my porch. Winter is coming and I hate to just cut down all of it. What should I do with the basil I have left? Please let me know soon. It's getting colder and I need your advice." - Laurel Roach ANSWER: The plant(s) has pretty much exhausted itself and if you don't cut it down,the leaves will begin to ruin after your first frost. You can cut the plants off at the base and hang them upside down in a cool, dark area, such as basement, pantry, garage, etc, if you want to dry them out for storage in a bottle or plastic bag. In about 10 days, they should be dry enough to crumble for storing.
Another way to preserve them is to take the leaves (fresh not dried), chop them up, place them in the plastic ice cube trays (fill each cube about half to two-thirds full) and add about a teaspoon or so of water just enough to top them, then freeze. When you need fresh herbs for your soups, stews, sauces, etc, pop one out and add in. This is about the only way that I know of to keep them in a "fresh" condition. The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, visit

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