In yard maintenance everyone seems to have a different way of doing things. From spraying milk to high-end herbicides, there are numerous suggestions for how to treat your lawn. Knowing what’s best for your plants can be tricky, especially as so many variables can affect the health of a lawn.
Baking soda, otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate, is a common household item. As you may guess from the name, it’s mostly used in baking.
However, this kitchen product may have uses beyond cakes. Baking soda is a popular fungicide for those who like homemade solutions. A small amount mixed with water is an easy way to tackle lawn fungus.
Will baking soda kill lawn fungus?
Yes, baking soda can be used to treat lawn fungus. An application of a baking soda solution can be used to treat crabgrass and other weeds. It has also been shown to be effective against powdery mildew.
Don’t just apply the baking soda straight to plants. First, you must mix up a solution.
To make a baking soda solution, mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of oil (vegetable oil for preference), 1 teaspoon of non-detergent liquid soap, and a gallon of water. The soap helps the solution to spread, and stick to the leaves, so the baking soda can get to work.
To recognize if you have powdery mildew, check your plants for what might at first appear to be dust, or flour. Powdery mildew appears as small spots of white or light gray on the tops and bottoms of plants.
Once identified it can be treated with baking soda. For powdery mildew, baking soda works best when applied earlier, before the mildew has a chance to spread. A baking soda solution can create an environment that is difficult for fungal spores to grow in.
Crabgrass is trickier to spot, as it varies depending on conditions. The shoots may at first appear as a lighter green than the rest of your lawn, but as it grows it begins to darken.
Crabgrass is thicker and wider than normal grass leaves. It grows in clumps and tends to sprawl out, rather than remaining upwards.
Crabgrass can grow to choke out your lawn. It’s important to remove because it spreads rapidly and survives in many conditions. Baking soda makes a good treatment for strong, hardy crabgrass.
Is baking soda a fungicide?
Baking soda has been shown to be used as an effective fungicide. The ion balance of the fungus is disrupted by an application of baking soda. Eventually the spores collapse, dying off. The baking soda then leaves behind an alkaline residue, which helps kill the remaining fungal spores.
If you are looking for a homemade solution to a fungal problem, then baking soda is a good option. It’s easy to make, cheap, and effective.
While you should be careful with it, baking soda is safe to handle (it’s actually sometimes used as an acne medication). Take care if using around children and pets, and keep the solution away from children.
As mentioned, baking soda is also known as sodium bicarbonate. You may notice the first part of that is sodium aka a major component of salt. The sodium is integral to the antifungal properties, as it sucks the water out of the fungus. However, this is also what makes it potentially dangerous to plants.
Is baking soda good for your yard?
Baking soda can be good for your yard, but it can also be harmful. An infrequent application of a mild baking soda spray can effectively kill fungus and mildew, and harmful grasses.
However, the qualities that make baking soda an effective pesticide will eventually end up damaging your healthy plants as well. Spraying too much, too often, will begin to corrode the plants.
Too much baking soda can begin to effect the pH balance of the soil as well. When the pH balance falls off, then the soil can become inhospitable. This stops new plants from sprouting, and kills well established plants.
As one of the primary components of baking soda is sodium, over spraying can lead to a build up of salt on plants. In the short term this is okay, and will have no repercussions for edible plants, but can be harmful in the long run.
Always check on a small patch first. As a homemade solution you may want to try different formulas to achieve different results. Hardier plants will withstand a greater application of baking soda, where new growth may find it overwhelming.
Spray a small area first to see how the plants react, and adjust the formula as necessary. Take care not to over spray, as too much may damage.
Other homemade options include apple cider vinegar solutions, mouthwash solutions, and milk solutions.