How to remove weeds and moss from lawns
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Moss in lawns can form dense mats outcompeting grass for water and nutrients and making the lawn uneven and spongy to walk on. These ancient plants thrive in damp shady conditions and can quickly spread in struggling lawns. Fed up with her lawn being overrun by moss, one gardener took to the Gardening UK Facebook page to ask for advice on how to deal with it.
Emma Louise wrote: “Hi, doing up the garden (very much in need as you can tell).
“What would you recommend with my lawn please, it’s mostly moss at the moment. Shall I use moss killer then scarify and re-seed? Or is it the wrong time of year.”
Moss is caused by a combination of moisture in the lawn and weak grass.
Moss needs moisture to spread, so gardeners are more likely to suffer from a moss problem in shady areas or in wetter seasons like spring or autumn.
Ridding lawns of moss requires a two-pronged attack – firstly, to remove the moss and secondly, to stop it coming back.
To get rid of the moss on Emma’s lawn, group methods recommended using the process of scarification. This essentially means to physically remove the moss by raking it out.
James Amos said: “People are quick to advise using weed killer pesticides, don’t do it unless you absolutely have to. Try raking the moss first and use an organic moss killer afterwards.”
Bernice Hodges wrote: “Most moss killer doesn’t actually kill moss, it just turns it black so you can see where it is to rake it out. Turning it black makes your lawn look awful.
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“I would rake it out, then there is a no rake moss treatment that breaks down the moss to feed the lawn. If you have no grass left you will need to overseed.”
Neil McAllister recommended: “Go over it with a scarifier to loosen soil and then put down pre-seeding fertiliser. Put down lawn weed killer first and give it two weeks to biodegrade. Then scarify and reseed.
“By then the seeds will be ready to germinate. They will lie dormant until the weather warms up – this is when they will germinate.”
Mark Wilson said: “Scarify it first, then what’s left feed it. Don’t worry about it looking like a mud field after the moss is out.”
One gardener suggested using lawn sand before scarifying the grass. Jono Boswell said: “Easiest way is to buy some lawn sand (this kills the moss and feeds grass at the same time) and apply the lawn sand just before rain.
“You won’t be able to cut your grass for two weeks after the lawn sand is applied, otherwise it can suck it all into the mower.
“Then you rake out all the moss when it’s blackened off, seed over with plenty of grass seeds and wait for the new grass to germinate. Do this again in early autumn and next year you’ll have a stunning lawn.”
Once scarified, one gardener suggested applying iron sulphate to ensure the moss does not return.
Mike Jefferson said: “The best way to deal with this is to scarify, then apply iron sulphate – that will kill the moss and turn the grass greener. Leave for seven to 14 days and then scarify again to remove dead moss. Then re-seed.”
Iron sulphate is usually known for greening grass and hardening lawns to fight against frost and disease.
The concentration to achieve this is usually lower than if used as a moss killer, but it will do the same job as a moss killer if more of it is applied.
For those who do choose to use a moss killer treatment, it is best applied now in the early spring, or can be just as effective if used in late winter.
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