When to use moss killer on your lawn

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Moss killer can be applied either by hand or using a manual spreader on your lawn. Moss killer needs to be applied at the right time of the year with the right weather conditions to ensure it activates properly. Lawn moss can form dense mats, outcompeting grass for water and nutrients and making the lawn uneven and spongy to walk on. These plants can spread rapidly, but when should you use moss killer on your lawn?

What is moss?

Mosses are non-flowering plants which produce spores and have stems and leaves but do not have true roots.

Mosses, and their cousins’ liverworts and hornworts, are classified as Bryophyta (bryophytes) in the plant kingdom.

These plants date back 450 million years and occur on every continent, in every ecosystem habitable by plants which use sunlight for energy.

Unlike other plants, mosses do not have roots, which means they suck nutrients up through the rhizoids and others draw in moisture and minerals from rain and water around them through their highly absorbent surfaces.

How to get rid of moss

Mosses are tougher than they look and have learnt to adapt in a range of extreme conditions.

Studies have shown that the lowest temperature they can photosynthesise (turn energy from sunlight into food) is around -15C and the highest is around 40C.

In hot environments like prairies or deserts, one way that mosses tolerate heat is by becoming dormant.

When they are desiccated (dried out) they can survive heat much better than when they are hydrated.

Some mosses have even been known to survive temperature highs of 100C when dried out, and lows of -272C.

Moss on your lawn is a sign there is an underlying problem.

This type of moss can be caused by any of several factors, including poor drainage, shade, acidic soil, lack of fertiliser, grass cut too short, and heavy footfall.

To remove moss, start by scarifying the lawn, which involves raking over the grass to remove moss and dead lawn.

In small gardens, this process can be done by hand using a spring tine rake, but in large gardens, it is easier to use a mechanical scarifier.

The next step to removing moss is to stop it from coming back.

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When should you use moss killer on your lawn?

Getting rid of moss in lawns where there is a serious problem needs a combination of moss killer, scarifying and lawn care.

Chemical moss killers contain ferrous sulphate which is an effective means to eradicate moss in lawns.

Chemical moss killers are typically applied in autumn or spring when the weather is cool and wet, so that lawn seed sown afterwards to cover bare areas is most likely to germinate.

Organic moss killers, which do not contain ferrous sulphate, are also available.

To effectively kill moss, it must be actively growing.

The best time to apply moss killer is in the early spring or late winter.

This can stop the moss before it heads into its spring growing season, keeping it from spreading before summer.

The most effective moss killers contain ferrous sulfate or ferrous ammonium sulfate, but you can also use those containing copper sulfate or potassium salts.

Moss-killing agents should not harm the soil or prevent plants you like from growing where moss once lived.

The best time to apply a chemical moss killer is autumn or spring when the weather is cool, and damp and any bare patches left after moss has been removed can be re-seeded.

To apply moss killer you should begin by scarifying it to thin it out.

Next, apply the moss killer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once the moss turns black, which typically takes around two or three weeks, use a spring tine rake or a mechanical scarifier to rake out your lawn.

The raked-out moss can then be composted, but it may be slow to breakdown. You should, therefore, try to add it gradually to your compost heap.

Moss in a lawn indicates that there is an underlying problem with the lawn, and unless this is fixed, the moss will return.

The best way to discourage moss from coming back is to get the grass growing vigorously.

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