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Uses of Laundry Detergent for the Lawn

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A well-groomed lawn is a source of pride for a homeowner or landscaper. Characteristics of the lawn -- including grass type, soil condition and climate -- determines the care required. Lawns mowed, watered, fertilized, dethatched and aerated are healthy, green and disease resistant. In addition, well-managed lawns produce turf that recovers quickly from the wear and tear of families at work and play.

As a Surfactant

Gardeners can use liquid dish or laundry detergent as a surfactant. When mixed with herbicides, insecticides or fertilizers, a surfactant helps the chemicals stick to and penetrate the grass much better. However, it is important to use detergent and not liquid soap. Detergent is a better surfactant as it breaks down easily, does not build up and supplies phosphates, which plants need. When chemicals spread more efficiently, less is required -- which saves money and helps the environment. Add a few drops of detergent to a liquid sprayer along with the fertilizer or insecticide or ½ tsp. of detergent to a gallon of mix.

Establishing New Areas

When working with new soil or peat moss, it's frequently difficult to penetrate the planting medium with water. Peat moss and new soil often exhibit a hard surface that resists water. To eliminate this gardening obstacle, add 1 to 2 drops of liquid dish or laundry detergent to the water. Add the drops to a sprayer or watering can and mix with water. When applied to the new soil, the detergent breaks down barriers and allows the soil or peat moss to absorb the water properly -- which is especially important when planting new grass seed or establishing new areas in the lawn.

When Watering the Lawn

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hose on lawn image by Coralie Palmeri from Fotolia.com

Landscapers know the importance of watering lawns. Most types of grass turn brown if left too dry. During the summer, up to 80 percent of a home’s water usage is often for outdoors. If a lawn is not properly dethatched, the surface becomes hard and impenetrable. Therefore, water is less efficient and does not reach the grass roots. Add one tsp. of liquid detergent per gallon of water to a hand sprayer to treat the lawn. The detergent breaks down the surface tension on the turf and allows the water to effectively reach the soil and roots. After applying the detergent mix, automatic sprinklers will be more productive at soaking the lawn.

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