Does Epsom salt green up a lawn?

Epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate, is a mineral compound that some gardeners use to help plants grow. Some key questions when looking at whether Epsom salt can green up lawns are: Does it actually make grass greener? Is it safe for lawns? How should it be applied? Here are some quick answers:

Epsom salt does help lawns look greener at least temporarily by providing magnesium, an important plant nutrient. However, too much Epsom salt can burn or even kill grass. Proper application involves spreading a diluted Epsom salt solution over the lawn and then watering it in.

What is Epsom salt?

Epsom salt, known chemically as magnesium sulfate heptahydrate, is a mineral compound comprised of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. It forms colorless, translucent crystals that dissolve readily in water. Epsom salt gets its name from the town of Epsom in England, where it was originally discovered in water coming from a spring.

Some key facts about Epsom salt:

  • Its chemical formula is MgSO4·7H2O.
  • It contains magnesium, sulfur, oxygen, and water.
  • Magnesium makes up around 10% of its composition.
  • It has a bitter, saline taste.
  • It dissolves easily in water.
  • It is also known as Epsom salts, bitter salt, or magnesium sulfate.

While Epsom salt has many household and industrial uses, it is also beneficial in agriculture and gardening. When applied to plants and soil, the magnesium it contains acts as a plant nutrient while the sulfur can help improve uptake of nitrogen and phosphorus.

Does Epsom Salt Make Grass Greener?

There is some evidence that using Epsom salt can lead to a temporary greening effect on lawns by providing essential magnesium. Magnesium plays vital roles in plant growth and health, including:

  • Formation of chlorophyll, the green pigment responsible for photosynthesis.
  • Helping plants effectively use nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus.
  • Improved production and transport of sugars.
  • Strengthening cell walls for better growth.
  • Enhancing resistance to plant diseases.

Many soils are deficient in magnesium, meaning lawns can benefit from the extra magnesium delivered by Epsom salt applications. The boost in this key nutrient allows grass plants to ramp up chlorophyll production and photosynthesis, giving the lawn a greener appearance, at least for a short period.

Short-term greening effect

However, it is important to understand this greening effect from Epsom salt is temporary. While the extra magnesium may help grass become greener for around 1-2 weeks, it does not provide a long-term solution for nutrient deficiencies in soil.

Once the added magnesium gets used up by the grass plants or leaches down past the root zone, the greener color will start to fade. For sustained results, soil testing, proper fertilization, and pH management tend to be more effective strategies.

Is Epsom Salt Safe for Lawns?

When used properly, Epsom salt is a safe supplement for lawns and gardens. Since it contains nutrients essential for plant growth, it does not pose significant risks. However, improper application of too much Epsom salt can potentially burn grass blades.

Proper application

The key is to apply Epsom salt in the recommended amounts. The general guideline is to use 2-3 pounds of Epsom salt per 1000 square feet, dissolved in water to create a dilute solution.

Spreading out this diluted Epsom salt solution over the lawn allows the magnesium to be gradually absorbed without causing harm. Watering immediately after application will also help wash any accumulated salts off the grass blades.

Risk of fertilizer burn

If too much Epsom salt is applied, especially if allowed to remain on the grass leaves, fertilizer burn can result. Fertilizer burn creates lesions or brown patchy spots on grass blades where they have been damaged by excess salts.

To avoid fertilizer burn, no more than the recommended Epsom salt amounts should be used. Light, frequent applications are safer than heavy applications done less often. Diluting in water and rinsing off the foliage right after application helps prevent any leaf burn.

How to Apply Epsom Salt to Lawns

Here is a step-by-step guide to properly applying Epsom salt to lawns:

  1. Obtain high quality Epsom salt, powdered or granulated magnesium sulfate.
  2. Determine how much you need based on package directions (usually 2-3 lbs per 1000 sq ft).
  3. Dissolve the measured amount of Epsom salt in warm water.
  4. Use enough water for good coverage – about 2-4 gallons per 1000 sq ft.
  5. Pour the diluted solution over the lawn and spread it around evenly.
  6. Make sure it reaches soil level and does not just sit on the grass blades.
  7. Water the lawn immediately after to rinse any residue off foliage.
  8. Repeat the application every 2-6 weeks through the growing season.

Tips for best results:

  • Read and follow label directions carefully.
  • Apply when grass is dry for optimal absorption.
  • Use a sprayer for easier uniform coverage.
  • Time applications for periods of active growth.
  • Combine with compost tea or liquid fertilizer.
  • Consider a soil test to check actual nutrient levels.

When to Apply Epsom Salt

Timing your Epsom salt applications properly can make a difference in the results:

Early spring

Applying Epsom salt in early spring as growth resumes provides magnesium that helps the grass green up. It also aids recovery from winter damage and prepares for the growing season.


Mid-summer applications boost nutrient levels that may be depleted at peak growth times. The magnesium aids photosynthesis and chlorophyll production.


Fall Epsom salt applications support winter hardiness and early green-up. The magnesium helps strengthen grass plants prior to winter dormancy.

Epsom Salt vs Other Fertilizers

While Epsom salt can provide temporary benefits, it differs from traditional lawn fertilizers in some key ways:

Epsom Salt Complete Fertilizers
  • Provides only magnesium
  • Effects are fast but short-term
  • Low risk of burn if used properly
  • Improves green color temporarily
  • Does not contain nitrogen or potassium
  • Contains N, P, K plus other nutrients
  • Provides longer-lasting, balanced nutrition
  • Higher burn risk if misapplied
  • Leads to sustained greening as plants grow
  • NPK ratios tailored for different uses

While both can potentially turn lawns greener, complete fertilizers tend to produce longer-lasting results by providing balanced nutrition. Epsom salt is more of a supplemental boost targeting magnesium levels specifically.

Should You Use Epsom Salt on Your Lawn?

Deciding whether to use Epsom salt comes down to considering these key factors:

Soil magnesium levels

If soils are deficient in magnesium, Epsom salt can help correct that. A soil test can determine if magnesium is low enough to warrant Epsom salt applications.


Epsom salt is relatively inexpensive compared to commercial fertilizers. This can make it an attractive option for homeowners looking save on lawn care costs.


Applying Epsom salt is fairly simple and fast. The crystals dissolve easily in water, requiring little prep work compared to granular fertilizer spreading.


Epsom salt is a natural mineral substance, making it safe for organic gardening. It does not have high risks of toxicity or runoff pollution like some synthetic fertilizers.

Temporary effects

The greening effects of Epsom salt only last around 1-2 weeks. Longer-lasting color and growth requires comprehensive, balanced fertilization.


Epsom salt can provide a temporary greening effect on lawns and correct magnesium deficiencies. However, improper over-application risks burning or damaging grass. While Epsom salt is not a substitute for fertilizer, it can be safely used as an occasional magnesium supplement if applied carefully and correctly.

To achieve lush, healthy, green turf, a soil test, proper mowing, irrigation, fertilization, and other best practices for lawn care are recommended. Epsom salt can provide a mineral boost targeting a specific nutrient but is not an all-in-one solution for a gorgeous lawn.

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