Turf war on lawn

GREEN PIECE: Moss can quickly infest a lawn.

GREEN PIECE: Moss can quickly infest a lawn.

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Years ago, I recall a Canadian pop group singing that blue was red.But it’s hard to argue that green is definitely green. So, moss or grass? Both are – or should be – green, yet a lot of gardeners seem to have chosen moss. If your lawn is infested with the stuff, then now’s the time to tackle it. It will stand its ground, but perseverance should pay off – eventually.

During the cold, wet winter, moss gets just the right conditions to encourage it to grow, while the grass sleeps on.

There are things that encourage the return of moss to a lawn – poor drainage, heavy shade, a compacted surface and underfeeding will all have an effect. So the battle starts by trying to remove the conditions in which moss flourishes.

Spiking the surface with a garden fork will help to improve drainage and reduce compaction. If this is a big problem, invest in a hollow-tine fork that removes plugs of soil. The resulting holes can be filled with a 50:50 mixture of sharp sand and something like EverGreen Lawn Soil so the holes don’t fill in, but encourage new roots and excellent drainage.

Then it’s time to sort out the starvation problem with a dressing of a proprietary moss control/fertiliser that contains ferrous sulphate to burn off the mosses, and plant foods to green up the grass.

Apply it when there’s a forecast for rain, and after a couple of weeks, the moss should have turned black and died. Rake it off and take it to the tip.

When the moss has been removed there are probably going to be a lot of bald spots on the lawn. So the next job is to re-seed.

Some lawns are so badly infested that it’s probably better to dig them up and start again with fresh turf or seed. That’s a pretty big job and not one that many people want to contemplate.

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