Moss in Spring

Moss in Spring

Given the cold weather we are experiencing it seemed fitting to put together some advice on what we can do in turf to help you better manage your lawn through a cold spring start. We have been asked continually to deal with moss but must wait for the frost to go first before we can treat the lawn.

When turf becomes compacted or waterlogged it creates problems for root development overall turf vigor and for the microbial populations to thrive which effectively drown and suffocate in high water tables. We offer a winter treatment primarily designed to give moss and moss spores a hard time over the winter and into spring to stop the moss plants increasing in number. Though this alone will not completely control the problem.

Plants in this case turf plants need regular aeration in the form of hollow tinning or spiking if you have a moss problem due to water logging or clay compaction we strongly recommend aerating the lawns yearly in spring and autumn.  This can be done from March on-wards. If you are finding your moss population increasing we can apply high Fe based products which will scorch the moss plants turning them brown and black the dead moss must then be raked out by hand using a spring rake or by scarification. Bare areas must then be over seeded and top dressed to assist germination and aid surface drainage.

The issue with moss management is that all moss control based products are acidic and are generally classed as ph adjusters due to the fact that they increase the acidity of the soil. Now the problem here is that moss prefers and thrives in acidic conditions. So usually once moss has been treated and scarified out and the ground aerated. We recommend liming the lawns to buff the alkalinity of the soil. In addition to this a high K feed with an N P amount that is correct for your lawn. Although if you are over seeding you must consider an alternative program for the seed also.

Its also important to consider how moss inhabits a space to begin with. Moss plants like any living organism require moisture the difference however is that mosses do not require a root system to survive. Many mosses take nutrients directly from the substrate but also via the leaf. They generally favor poorly drained and shady areas but also thrive in areas of full sun. Moss plants do not have a vascular system and as such can be easily spread as each part can become a new plant which is why its not a good idea to rake or scarify without treating moss. However even when treated and raked out moss can still colonize a space via airborne spores. So if you treat your moss but have any areas with moss such as walls, borders, roof tiles or trees that bare moss it will recolonize the lawn in time.

Water

Turf plants when waterlogged will shut down in a process called “plasmolysis” this is when the plant cell wall collapses into a state of “plasmolysis”. A cell is made up of a cell wall which within contains a liquid solution. When roots and plants are waterlogged the water becomes whats referred to as a soil solution or to be correct a “hypotonic solution” made up of high concentrations of the elements within the soil. When suspended for long periods in a “hypotonic solution” external pressure causes the plant cell contents that fills them so they expand creating outward pressure known as “tugor” which en mass hold the plant upright. To move from the cell to the external solution the pressure “tugor” of the cell decreases to the point where the protoplasm of the cell peels away from the cell wall. The gaps between the cell wall and the membrane weaken to the point the plant cell collapses completely causing the plant to shrink and crumple. Or to us we see the grass die and the moss grow on the dead grass which becomes thatch.

Water logged soils are also prone to leaching which is loss of nutrients carried away by the water so any feeding and machine work must be postponed until the ground becomes workable. When over seeding water logged lawns rye grasses and strong fescue are recommended.

Regenerating turf

Energy stored within the root will be consumed when the plant tries to regenerate if it survives so remaining plants after any treatment or machine work will be weak and prime to attack from pests and disease so keeping potassium levels high boosts disease resistance. Once stored energy is consumed those areas of the root may then die as reserves are depleted which is why feeding the turf plants in a form they can uptake is so important. In order for the lawn to regenerate it must use up its resources and some of its root system scarifying the lawns help by removing dead moss and thatch litter which promote water logging and make the turf plants lives harder. So we strongly advise raking the lawns to remove dead moss before feeding. Hollow tinning will help surface drainage allow oxygen to enter the root zone boosting all life in the soil but will also sheer the roots themselves which stimulates root regeneration.

Photosynthesis

Plants synthesize carbohydrates by photosynthesis, so keep debris off of the lawns you really cant have enough light so thin out shrubs and trees carry out crown reductions or in some cases move plants completely by digging up the root base and relocate them to enable better light and air flow to the lawns. If you have high hedges consider reducing them but be mindful of nesting birds!

Mowing tips

So what can you do to help your lawn? Mow the lawn in two directions no lower than 1.5 inches cutting grass short simply adds stress. Keep the mower blade as sharp as you can to enable a clean cut.  Consider spiking and top dressing the lawns if they are sodden but you must wait until the ground is firm enough to do so.

Cost vs Quality

You really get what you pay for with a lawn treatment. If your lawns tired and your considering lawn care give us a call and see what our  program can do for you.

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