Two Weeks to a Greener Lawn

By Kate Riley August 2, 2012

It’s the hottest month of the year and my lawn is brown and yucky!  Or at least it was until I decided to do something about it.  This is that patch of flat lawn in our backyard where the kids kick the soccer ball, play badminton, capture insects, and play with their friends, but it was getting prickly under their feet and becoming such an eyesore.  Our front lawn stays nice and healthy, but this one in the rear yard was looking really sad.


I went down to my local True Value to see what I could find in their garden department.  The store manager recommended ammonium sulfate for a quick fix to green it up again, applied in the evening after the hot sun fades and given a healthy watering to dissolve the granules.  Knowing little about lawn fertilizers, I took his advice.

I was surprised how quickly the lawn turned lush and green again, I had it in the back of my mind somehow that these things take a lot of time, but the ammonium sulfate was a great quick fix – here’s the result two weeks later.


For long term health we will need to follow up with a slow release formula in a few weeks – for now we’re enjoying the lusher, darker ‘feels good under the feet’ grass.


The much improved lawn has met with feline approval.

And I’m happy to report the kids are back in action, enjoying the last days of summer and having fun ignoring social norms for bathing suits when jumping in sprinklers.  :)


Anyone else use ammonium sulfate to quickly green up your lawn?  What products do you use for long term lawn health and care?

True Value Blog Squad language: “I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as my writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.”



  1. Our lawn could certainly use this! I wasn’t familiar with this product and it’s now on my shopping list for the weekend. Thanks for the tip Kate. Your son looks like he is having a ball running through the sprinkler.

  2. When you said your son ignores social norms for the sprinkler I was surprised to see he was in clothes… my kids tend to be naked out there jumping around! :( your lawn looks great btw!

    • Mine too Rachel!!! When they were smaller, I wouldn’t bother with bathing suits at all, it was birthday suits all the way!!!

  3. We’re working on filling in bare spots in the small lawn of our rental so the extra watering from that has kept it fairly green in this heat, but I’m definitely filing this away to try!

  4. great tip Kate! mine definitely needs a lot of help right now. We live in Southern IL, and we almost always run in the 90’s to 100’s!!!! Thanks!

  5. Did you have to do a lot of extra watering during those two weeks to get it to do it’s thing or did it just need that initial watering? With the drought we are on severe lawn-watering restrictions but our lawn looks horrendous and I am so embarrassed by it so I’m looking for a quick-fix!

    • Hi Alisa, we watered it extra the first two nights (30 minutes) and then it was back on its regular 5 minute automated morning sprinkers. I know there’s a lot of drought this summer and many states and counties have water restrictions so yes, you do have to factor that in.

    • Yes, at least it’s green Pam! Have you seen those stories in the news where people are spray painting their lawns? Wow, now that’s inventive. :)

  6. Thanks so much for this post. We needed it badly. Our lawn looked exactly like your before picutre with burnt patches. So I am definately grabbing the hubby and putting him to work with your idea this weekend. Can I just ask some quick questions: For the two week application period is it still safe for the kids to run on the lawn? And how do you apply it by just sprinkling it throughout the lawn? Also can you reccomend a long term health formula to use after. I really want to get my lawn looking like yours again.
    Thanks so much. I love your blog and follow you daily.
    Keep up all the good work.

    • Hi Racquel, great questions, I should have given more details! :) It’s applied with a spreader, and follow the directions, too much can have the opposite effect and burn the lawn. Water for 30 minutes after the first application and then again the second evening. Keep the kids off for 24 hours (I kept them off 48 just to be sure). Still researching a long term care product – this one is a quick fix but I’ve read a few reviews online that a slow release formulas are better – still investigating which one to use!

  7. Wow! Talk about a great transformation! Looks amazing. Our yard has been a work in progress since we bought it almost two years ago. It had been in a sad state since it hadn’t been maintained prior to us buying it in the first place. Never saw this option though. Do you know if this interferes with any lawn care treatments that are done on a regular basis (i.e., grub treatments, regular spraying for weeds, etc…)?

  8. My youngest is a total nudist, but my oldest won’t take anything off LOL

    We use the same stuff for our lawn, I love how it feels when it’s all happy and green :D

  9. It looks great! We had a fabulous lawn man reseed our lawn this year and somehow I charmed out of him his secret for lawn care throughout the year. Mind you, we live in the NW, but here is his recipe if it helps you at all; March(grub-x(keeps not only the grubs who make brown spots on your lawn at bay but also the moles who like to eat the grubs), lime, and rid-moss(iron)). June(Scotts fertilizer). August(Scotts fertilizer). October(repeat what you did in March)…and so on. Good luck!

    • Thank you so much Liz, I’ll make a note of that formula, so nice of you to share!

  10. We have a Bermuda lawn and “feed” it once a month with soybean meal. It’s safe for our kids to run around on (and pets, if we had them) and, even with the 100+ temps here in central Arkansas, it is green and plush for the most part! :) We water deeply and mow low too!

  11. Please share the slow releasing formula you come up with. I don’t know a thing about lawns or gardening and this tip sure did come in handy. My lawn is horrible. I’m going to try this. Thanks

  12. Yes you are right that is just a quick fix. We live in Oklahoma where it was 112 yesterday and has been over 100 for almost a month. It is very stressful for grass to be fertilized during periods of drought and heat…so those readers living with those conditions should not fertilize. I thought the soy bean meal idea sounded interesting.

  13. Wow! Amazing how lush and green your lawn looks now? May I ask what type of grass you have. Do you know if this would work on St. Augustine or on regular(weed) grass?

  14. I wonder if this is pet friendly? The hubs and I definitely need to be more disciplined when it comes to yard maintenance! Our backyard is really sandy and we were successfully in planting grass this year through June, then unfortunately we were both out of town and in the scorching heat most of the grass died :( We’ll try planting again in the fall.

  15. Wow – Kate your lawn looks amazing now!!!! So lush and deep green – just makes we want to sink my toes in it! Love the pic of your sun jumping throught the sprinkler! Your post comes at the perfect time for me, we just moved to a ‘new to us’ home and were walking around the yard last night trying to figure out the zones on our inground sprinkler system….noticing big brown patches that need some help! It’s been really dry here this summer and our lawn needs some loving. My husband also discovered a mole running around our yard, so guess we have the grub problem too! Thanks for the tips! Heather @ Setting for Four

  16. I have great success with Scott’s Turf Builder. I start out really early in the new year with Scott’s Turf Builder with Halt’s (I am in Fort Worth, TX. so weeds start early here). The Halt’s gives some protection from Crabgrass which is a problem for me cause my single neighbor has a whole lawn full of it. Six weeks later I put on Scott’s Turf Builder with weed killer. Six weeks later Summer Guard and Winter Guard in the fall along with another application of Halt’s. I get those winter weeds that get me a letter from the Home Owner’s Assn. saying I need to treat for weeds while the Bermuda is still dormant even though I have the best looking lawn on the street! The experts at the hardware store say that will prevent the weeds from taking root. I hate weeds and have found that a product called Image works the best to kill weeds. With the summer of 2011 (71 straight days of 100 plus temps) and the current summer heat wave I have to budget an extra $50 per month for the increase in my water bill to water 2X a week however.

  17. The key with fertilizer is to only use the amount recommended and no more (and at the recommended intervals). Excess fertilizer can potentially burn your grass and kill it. Also, excess fertilizer runs off of lawns, into the storm sewers, and into local waterways where it encourages algal bloom (bad, bad stuff).

    I know, such a downer comment. Fertilizer isn’t evil, but it does need to be used carefully.

  18. Chemical and artificial fertilizers are harmful to the environment and humans. The paragraph below is from

    Ammonium sulfate is potentially dangerous to both people and the environment, so it requires care in its use. It can cause severe irritation and inflammation of the respiratory tract if inhaled. Eating or drinking ammonium sulfate will cause irritation in the gastrointestinal tract like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, although it isn’t toxic unless consumed in large quantities. Contact with the skin or eyes will cause irritation, redness, itching, and pain. It may also be a neurotoxin, meaning it can cause confusion and behavioral changes.

    Why would anyone want this on their lawn or in the water table?

    • Thanks for the environmental update Patricia, definitely food for thought, we should use them with caution!

  19. I love the kitty picture! Just be cautious if your cat likes to chew/eat grass. I’m not sure if that product would have any ill effects.

  20. Wow!! I so need this. Hot weather+ no rain = really bad curb appeal…too bad I live in Ontario, Canada. They’ve banned everything. We can’t use any fertilizers or anything on our lawns, anymore. You should see the dandelions in the Spring! I just tried to find this with no luck at all.
    I’m happy for you though!

  21. We used ammonium sulfate too for our yards. It was the cheapest and fastest way to make our lawn prettiful.

  22. Patricia, thank you for sending an enlightened comment. This desire for “perfect” lawns over health concerns is always surprising to me.

  23. Kate, the lawn looks fabulous. My hubby got the “lawn bug” this year too. One comment about your watering schedule. I think if you look online you will find that most lawn experts recommend watering deeply one to two days a week rather than a short time each day This helps the grass develop deep roots and allows it to reach the deeper water table when it is hot. Here is a link that describes the best way to determine how much to water each time. The good ol’ tuna can method :)

    Happy summer to you and yours.

  24. I use ironite quite a bit but I just might add an extended release version of the ammonium sulfate to my arsenol. The ironite seems to last 4-6 weeks for us and greens it right up too. Just using Scotts all purpose fertilizer during the hot months does help. I always forget to fertilize that time of year.

  25. Wish we could do this but we have a watering ban after a month of drought. We can water flowers but not our lawn.

  26. The comment regarding ammonium sulfate’s harmful properties is a concern. But does anyone have an environmentally friendly solution? Our lawn after a year of not enough rain (Bay Area in No California) and a fallen oak tree looks very patchy.

  27. Oh goodness, your “Before” looks like a GREAT yard in west Texas! Droughts are no fun–super jealous! My husband works really hard to keep our yard looking great but it takes a ton, I mean a ton, of water!

  28. That is amazing … I can’t believe it is the same lawn 2 weeks later! It looks like new turf has been laid, it is so plump and lush :)

  29. I am an ammonium sulphate user here. Light applications are best during hottest times. It is a real secret weapon. And it is CHEAP! Shhh don’t tell.
    We also bought a load of mulch from the land fill and raked it over our lawn this spring.
    I wanted to work on the lousy soil that the lawn is planted in. When we dug a sprinkler head this summer we were pleased to see the black layer on the surface from the mulch that worked into the grass.
    Great job!

    • Thank you for the idea of putting mulch over the grass. My soil is sandy and dirt applied to it gets eaten up by the sand. I am going to try this. Just put the amonia Sulfate on my moms grass last week. No change yet. We have a week to go. I am thinking it will green up this week, if not we may have to reseed it. Not sure if you can bring dead grass back alive.

  30. I have never heard of this for lawns, but what great advice. We share that same gardening zone as you and our lawn does not always look as lush as we would like it too. Forwarding this to my husband. -K

  31. I’m heading down to True Value at lunch and going to try this out! Our lawn is embarrassing!

  32. I learned long ago that Magnesium Sulfate — the ingredient in epsom salts – will turn ferns a deeper green almost overnight. Mix the salts in with the water about every week, and the plant color deepens to a deep, forest green. Beautiful.

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