How to Make a Thatch Buster Tonic

Faith McGee

Thatch is the living and dead organic matter that is sandwiched between soil and grass. A thatch build up of more than an inch can cause a hospitable environment for pests, decrease air circulation and promote fungal infections.

Keep yard clippings on your yard, because they do not contribute to thatch build up and help add nutrients to the lawn when they decompose.

While many gardeners can remove thatch with a dethatcher, you can break down existing thatch by mixing up a thatch buster tonic. Not only will the tonic save you time and money, it may break down the thatch so you can restore the health of your yard.


Find out how much thatch you have in your yard by pressing a measuring stick through your grass and into the soil.


Use nondiet soda in the tonic busting mixture for the best results.

  1. In a bucket mix one can of soda, 1/2 cup of dishwashing detergent, one can of beer, 1/2 cup of ammonia and 1/2 cup of mouthwash. Stir the mixture thoroughly.

  2. Pour the mixture into a 10-gallon sprayer that has a hose attachment. Choose a time in the morning or early afternoon to apply the tonic to the lawn. Avoid spraying in the late afternoon, because wet grass encourages fungal infections.

  3. Attach the hose to the sprayer. Turn on the hose. Walk as if following an imaginary line back and forth across the lawn. Allow the tonic to soak into the grass before using the lawn area for a few hours. If you have pets, keep them in to prevent them from coming into contact with the tonic.

  4. Apply the tonic to the lawn again in three weeks, if applying the tonic in the summer. You can wait two months if applying to cool season grass in the winter or fall.