Those who opt to plant and maintain traditional lawns may like the look of the lush, green grass surrounding their home, but don’t necessarily want to use artificial fertilizers and other chemicals to keep it looking good. And while some turn to sand as a way to improve soil drainage, others use something a bit sweeter: Sugar.
Here’s what to know about when putting sugar on your lawn could be beneficial, and when you should skip it.
When your lawn might benefit from sugar
As we’ll discuss below, not every lawn will reap the benefits of sugar, but generally speaking, the sweet substance can help limit weed growth and break down thatch.
Sugar for weed control
Plants—including weeds—love nitrogen-rich soil. And as a carbon nutrient, sugar contains no nitrogen. So while putting sugar on weeds growing in your lawn won’t kill them directly, it’ll make the soil where they’re trying to grow inhospitable. At that point, the grass would be better-positioned to overtake invasive plant species.
Sugar for breaking up thatch
If you’ve noticed a layer of dead grass, leaves, and other materials—better known as “thatch”—form on your lawn, sugar can be used to help break it down. This allows new grass to grow, and can make your lawn look greener, and less patchy.
How to use sugar on your lawn
You can use any type of granulated or powdered sugar on your lawn, and will need one pound of sugar per 10.5 sq. feet of lawn. The easiest way to apply it evenly is by using a lawn spreader, but if you don’t have one, sprinkling it on by hand—taking the time to make it as even as possible—works, too. When you’re done spreading the sugar, water the lawn lightly.
There’s also the option of creating a molasses spray by mixing 1 ¾ cups of molasses to 10 gallons of water, and applying it using a backpack or manual sprayer.
Either way, the best time to sugar your lawn as the earliest point in the day when the lawn is dry (so, after any morning dew has evaporated). And like humans, it’s not great for grass to get too much sugar, so limit the treatment to once a month.
Risks of putting sugar on your lawn
While sugar has its benefits, in some cases, could do more harm than good for your lawn. For example, if your lawn is surrounded by woods, or prone to fungal growth in general, sugar will make things worse. Also, if you don’t water your lawn sufficiently after applying the sugar, it could attract insects and other critters looking for a snack—leaving your lawn in worse shape than it was before the sugar.