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How to treat moss in turf

February 15, 2017

 

Moss is a familiar enemy to most turf care professionals in the UK, appearing on lawns, golf courses, bowling greens and other areas of sports and amenity turf.

The unfortunate truth is that our climate is perfect for it. Dark, wet winters allow moss to flourish; dominating any turfgrass species that are attempting to make it through the season.

 

What is moss?

Mosses are ancient plants that evolved 200 million years before the appearance of flowering plants such as grass. Mosses do not have roots; preferring to take all their water and nutrients directly through the leaf.

They also have the unusual ability that allows them to rehydrate after drying out, a useful trait to have if you want to survive the summer!

 

Why does moss grow so well in some turf?

Moss grows very well in damp, shady conditions which is why we often struggle to avoid moss growth in the winter months. Moss does not actually harm the grass plants but it will outcompete the grass if conditions are right.

It is often said that the presence of moss is an indicator of poor turf health, this is true because if the grass is not healthy then it will not be able to compete with the moss.

 

Typical factors encouraging moss over grass may be one or more of the following:

Waterlogged or very wet soil

Compacted soil

Shaded areas

Lack of adequate nutrients

Leaves not swept away

Increased stress levels (e.g. fertiliser scorch, herbicide applications, severe mowing)

What treatments are available for moss?

 

Fertiliser treatments

Iron sulphate has been used for many years as an economic and effective treatment against moss growth. It also has the added benefit of greening up the lawn making it highly popular as a winter treatment.

Iron sulphate can be applied in granular or liquid form, there are benefits to both methods but a liquid application will give the fastest results due to the direct action on the leaf. 6% Liquid Fairway Iron is based on iron sulphate and provides an economical and fast acting measure aga