Sulphate of iron in lawn and turf care
The many uses of sulphate of iron on lawns & turf
In the lawn and turf care industry sulphate of iron (iron sulphate) is used for moss control, however it has many other uses. This is especially true now, as many chemicals are being banned and discontinued. This means lawn care enthusiasts and turf professionals are turning to sulphate of iron as a replacement.
This versatile product has many uses including moss control and worm and disease suppression. It can also be used to give the turf a greening up effect too, without promoting growth, ideal for winter use when your lawn may be looking off colour.
We will take a quick look at each of the uses of sulphate of iron.
Moss treatment and control on lawns and turf
For many lawn and turf care enthusiasts moss is arguably one of the most frustrating problems on the lawn. Moss is predominantly a major problem on many lawns and areas of turf during the spring period. The traditional treatment for moss is a product called lawn sand, sulphate of iron is the ingredient contained in lawn sand which kills the moss.
Worm suppression on lawns and turf
Worms are naturally very good for the soil, in fact a large population of worms points to a healthy soil and lawn. The main drawback with worms is they produce worm casts. These worm casts smear on the surface of the lawn, and in turn produce muddy conditions especially if the soil has a high clay content. Worms are less of a problem on sandy soils, as any casts produced can be easily dispersed due to the nature of the soil.
In the past, especially on golf and bowling greens where worm casts are unacceptable chemicals have been used to control worms. Many years ago the products were very effective and actually controlled the worms for several years. At present the only product that is effective against worms is is a chemical called Carbendazim. However this product, which is only a worm suppressant and in some cases not very effective, is also to be discontinued shortly. As these changes take effect sulphate of iron may play a part in discouraging worms in professional turf care.
As worms prefer a high pH, regular applications of sulphate of iron when worm activity is at it highest, will help lower the surface pH. This can help discourage worm activity near the surface of the lawn. However it should be noted if the problem is very severe the results may be disappointing. It should also be noted that this product is not going to affect the worm population in your lawn as it is only a mild suppressant.
Lawn disease suppression
The most common and damaging disease in the UK is Fusarium Patch disease. This disease is predominantly a problem during the autumn and winter months. In professional turf care chemical fungicides (not available for amateur gardeners), are widely used to prevent and control this disease. This disease prefers an alkaline (high pH) surface. As sulphate of iron lowers the surface pH it can help limit the damage caused by the disease.
Sulphate of iron can be purchased on its own, or as an ingredient in another product from most good garden centres. If it is purchased on its own care must be taken mixing the product and it can stain pathways and clothes.