Fertilizing your lawn is a must if you want to have that lush greenery that will be the envy of the whole neighborhood. Some homemade fertilizers have been proven effective and beneficial — such as eggshells and coffee grounds — and then some just seem too contentious to be true — such as sugar. So is sugar really a reliable fertilizer for your lawn?
Sugar is not a good lawn fertilizer, even though it makes your lawn appear lusher. Your lawn is healthier after a good sprinkling of sugar, not because it makes the soil more fertile but because it helps make the grass greener and thicker. Sugar helps get rid of weeds, too.
We will talk about why sugar is not a good lawn fertilizer, why you should use it on your lawn despite that, and how you should use it to make your lawn healthier. Then we will discuss other tactics you can use to help make your lawn more attractive. Let’s get started!
Why Is Sugar Not a Good Lawn Fertilizer?
Sugar is not a good lawn fertilizer because it doesn’t add any nutrients to the soil. It is a simple carbohydrate that takes in excess nitrogen and is thus reliable in killing weeds. Creating a low-nitrogen environment fortifies the grass in your lawn and starves unwanted weeds.
Fertilizers are substances you add to the soil to make it more fertile. They aid in providing much-needed nutrients for plants to grow and thrive. Fertilizers generally contain these 3 main nutrients:
- Nitrogen. It affects growth and is responsible for the green color of grass.
- Potassium. It is needed to facilitate the various chemical processes involved in growth.
- Phosphorous. It helps form roots and is responsible for cell division.
Tip: I’ve written in-depth articles about why plants need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Check them out!
Benefits of Using Sugar on Your Lawn
Sugar may not be an excellent fertilizer for your lawn, but it has some benefits. After all, it has been used in gardens through the years. There must be some horticultural value in sugar for it to be regarded, all this time, as a reliable gardening tool.
Here are some of the benefits your lawn will enjoy if you sprinkle it with some sugar:
Gets Rid of Weeds
Weeds grow when sunlight and moisture are abundant. They thrive in lawns because they are exposed to direct sunlight all day and are most probably getting watered regularly. By sprinkling sugar on your lawn, you suddenly make the environment less than ideal for them to grow and thrive.
Sugar brings down the nitrogen levels in the soil. A low nitrogen environment is ideal for grass but not for weeds. Grass does not need too much nitrogen to thrive, but weeds require nitrogen-rich soil to grow. As the grass grows healthier and thicker, it will overtake the weeds and soon gain a strong foothold in your lawn. The starved weeds will gradually wilt and die.
Breaks Down Thatch
Thatch is that layer of dead grass, stems, roots, and other organic materials that accumulate on your lawn. Thatch hinders grass growth and may sometimes even take over large patches in your lawn. Sugar helps break down thatch, improving the health and appearance of your yard.
Feeds Beneficial Insects and Microbes
Not all insects are pests. Some are advantageous for gardens because they offer multiple benefits. Spreading sugar on your lawn will feed these beneficial insects and microbes and encourage them to get the job done.
Here are some of the perks of having beneficial insects and microbes on your lawn:
- Improved soil structure. Worms and ants aid in improving the structure of the soil by aerating it as they move about underground.
- Stimulated root formation. Good soil structure leads to better root formation for plants. A solid root system is a huge factor in promoting optimal growth in plants.
- Increased organic matter (humus) formation. Completely decomposed organic matter, called humus, contributes to improving soil quality by adding beneficial microorganisms to the soil and stabilizing its pH levels. Humus also helps control fungal diseases.
- Reduced pest population. Beneficial insects, like beetles and caterpillars, feed on smaller, destructive pests such as aphids and mealybugs.
How To Apply Sugar on Your Lawn
Sugar can be sprinkled all over your lawn by hand, just as long as you ensure that it is evenly distributed among the grass. However, for best results, consider using a lawn spreader to do the job. Lawn spreaders are handy gardening tools that you can use for other purposes, such as spreading fertilizer or distributing seeds all over your lawn.
Here is how to apply sugar to your lawn using a lawn spreader:
- Load sugar into your lawn spreader. Refined white sugar or brown sugar will do.
- Walk back and forth across your lawn, so you cover every inch with sugar. Distribute the sugar at a rate of about 1 pound (0.45 kg) for every 10 square feet (0.93 sq.m). Make sure the grass is completely dry.
- Water your lawn lightly. The topsoil has to be soaked but avoid creating water run-offs since these can quickly wash away the sugar.
- Repeat application every 3 months or so. This is to keep nitrogen levels low in your lawn to give plenty of time for grass to grow and overtake the weeds.
You should stop the application of sugar on your lawn when you see that your grass is visibly healthier and there are no more weeds in your lawn. Too much sugar can attract pests like ants and pill bugs.
These might start feeding on your grass and plants and may ruin your lawn altogether. Reduce your sugar application to about twice a year, ideally during autumn or spring.
How Much Sugar Is Safe for Your Lawn?
A pound for sugar every 10 square feet (0.93 sq.m) is usually enough to produce the best results. Consider using a lawn spreader so that it is distributed evenly all over your yard. Ordinary table sugar, whether white or brown, is safe to use. Dissolved sugar in water is also a safer option.
Other Tips on How To Make Your Lawn More Attractive
Thick, healthy grass is the envy of everyone. How often have you caught yourself ogling at your neighbors’ front yard, wishing that yours is just as lush, if not lusher, than theirs? Now, you, too, can enjoy a greener, healthier lawn with just a few simple tricks.
Here are some tips on how to make your lawn easier on the eye:
Water Your Lawn Properly
Your lawn needs to be watered at the correct times and always with the appropriate amount of water. Overwatering and underwatering both lead to weak, dull, and sparse grass. While a strict watering schedule is good, knowing how to identify when your lawn needs water will give you a better understanding of how to water your lawn.
Watering your lawn once or twice a week is usually enough if you live in a warm and windy area. The idea is to water your lawn deeply so the first few inches of soil get a good soaking. If there was rainfall, hold off on watering for a few days. Also, water your lawn less if you live in a cold and humid place to give the water more time to leave the soil.
Avoid watering your lawn at midday, when the sun is at its brightest. Intense heat will make water evaporate too quickly, even before it gets absorbed deep into the soil and the roots. On the other hand, watering at night exposes your grass to excessive humidity, which can lead to turf disease and other fungal diseases.
It is best to water your lawn early in the morning when the sun isn’t too hot. This way, the grass has enough time to absorb as much water as it needs. When the sun gets intense later in the day, it will dry up any excess water resting on the grass blades and the soil.
Fertilize Your Lawn Regularly
You must provide your lawn with adequate nutrition for thicker, greener grass. There are a lot of fertilizers available in the market — liquid or granular, organic or inorganic. Regardless of your choice, ensure you focus on the 3 most important nutrients when it comes to fertilization —nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
Do a Lawn Soil Test
This is not popular among gardeners, but it is crucial to provide your lawn with the best possible environment for grass to thrive. A lawn soil test will determine which nutrients are lacking in your soil. By doing so, you will be able to identify which types of fertilizers are ideal and what other steps you can take to improve soil quality.
A lawn soil test can also identify your soil’s pH levels— whether it’s alkaline or acidic. If your soil’s pH is off, even the best and most expensive fertilizers will not be able to help your grass become thicker and greener. If your soil’s pH is off, it can’t fully absorb nutrients.
Generally, grass grows best if the soil’s pH is between 6-7.2. Anything below or above this is not ideal for grass; they won’t thrive no matter how much sunlight, water, and nutrients you expose them to. Call an expert for help in doing a lawn soil test.
These are what you’d expect should you decide to take this route:
- Soil samples. Spoon-sized samples will be taken from at least 3 different areas of your lawn. This is done so that the results will be more accurate.
- If your soil’s pH is more than 7.2: Treat with sulfur or iron sulfate.
- If your soil’s pH is below 6: Treat with pelletized limestone.
It is essential to be aware of how alkaline or acidic your soil is since pH significantly impacts the health and growth of plants. There are certain types of plants that prefer acidic soil, while there are some that thrive only in alkaline soil. Knowing if your soil is acidic or alkaline will help you adequately address various issues in your lawn.
Be Consistent With Your Pest and Disease Control Measures
Invest in pest control products to keep those destructive insects at bay. They spread surprisingly fast among the grass when there is an infestation. Pesticides can also help in warding off diseases. Consistently apply weed control agents, such as sugar, to keep weeds from sprouting and taking over your lawn.
Periodically Aerate Your Lawn
The soil on your lawn can become compact over time. If the soil is too dense, the roots won’t properly absorb water and nutrients. Regular aeration will loosen up the soil and allow your lawn to breathe. You can also take advantage of these aeration sessions to overseed your lawn and ensure lusher growth.
It is best to aerate your lawn when it is moist. Spring is a great time to do this because this is when the grass is growing, and they will have better chances of recovering from possible stress from soil aeration. You’ll know it’s time to aerate if you stick a screwdriver into the soil and find it hard to push it further into the ground.
Here is how to aerate your lawn:
- Water your lawn. Soil is best aerated when it is moist.
- Punch holes into the soil with a spading fork or pitchfork. Go as deep as you can, then rock your tool of choice back and forth to loosen up the compacted soil.
- Repeat the process. Walk across your lawn, ensuring you aerate the soil in all areas.
You can also aerate your lawn using powered aerators or a coring machine. These devices are great investments for your yard. They work by rapidly punching holes into the ground to aerate the soil while removing plugs and debris along the way.
Prune Your Trees
Along with water and nutrients, sunlight is also necessary to ensure a lush, green lawn. Consider pruning some of those tree branches hanging over some areas of your yard. They’re robbing those areas from enjoying proper sun exposure and hindering your grass from growing thick and lush.
If pruning is not an option, you can opt for shade-loving ground cover like Tradescantias and Turtle Vines. You could also cover the area with some gravel and make a sanctuary for your succulents. A small flower patch might also look nice.
Mow Your Lawn Properly
Mowing is not as simple as most people think. There are actually right and wrong ways to do it. Mowing your lawn the right way can lead to thicker, greener, healthier grass. Make sure you do not cut off more than ⅓ the length of your grass blades.
Cutting your grass too short makes it weaker, leading to yellow blades, dullness, and weeds. Ideally, grass should be 3-4 inches (7.62-10.16 cm) tall. Your mower’s blades should always be razor-sharp to ensure a clean cut and avoid unnecessary stress on your grass.
Sugar may not be a good fertilizer, but it is a great garden ally that you can use to make your grass lusher and greener. It can also help you get rid of annoying weeds. Take this handy kitchen staple out from your cupboards and sprinkle it all over your yard. The weeds will hate it, but your lawn will definitely love it!