The first questions in how to deal with moss on sport pitches shouldn’t be, what do we need to treat it with, but WHY is it there!! In many cases especially at grassroots level where there are a lack of resources and often grounds sitting on high water tables, that a much bigger issue.
If that is the case, there still fruit in identifying why the moss is there and trying to put together some possible long term solutions.
Why is moss a problem on sports pitches?
Hold water, near the top of the surface encouraging areas to sit wet and resulting thatch build up.
Uneven surface levels.
Dies off during the summer, leaving bare areas.
What is moss and what types of moss is there?
Interesting fact, moss has no root structure and reason it burns off during hot spells. Identifying what type of moss you have, may lead you to finding the root cause.
There are three main types of moss, cushion, trailing and upright.
Cushion– Tiny upright clusters of growth, those associated with closely mown and scalped turf situations.
Trailing– Feathered looking types of moss, those associated with poor drainage and shade problems.
Upright– Larger tuft type mosses, those associated with drier acidic soils.
Where is it most prevalent?
Moss is most prevalent in places of low fertility; this can be the case on chalk soils where Fe is washed through the fast-draining soil.
Compaction, with the associated waterlogging is also good conditions for moss.
Shaded areas are also poor in light and as a result, moss flourishes.
Heavy soils struggle to drain and can also struggle with moss.
Areas that have thinned for any reason are also idea grounds for moss to flourish.
Moss prefer a low soil pH level.
The very first question worth asking is why is it there?Editor
What are the options
Treatment with an iron-based product and then removal with a scarifier or at worst a garden rake, if only a small area.
If you only have small amounts of invasive moss, i.e., just gets in where its bare its worth relooking at your seed rates during renovations. I did this and doubled my seed rates and we no longer have issues with moss on our squares.
Keep it checked, but the addition of iron (Fe) in fertiliser applications more relevant in winter months, due to chance of the iron scoring the grass during hot/dry periods.
Keep the soil open during wet periods, but not in season if referring to cricket squares.
Take annual or bio annually soil nutrient/pH levels to ensure the pH is where it needs to be, if the pH is high or low the plant will lose out on some nutrients and this could lead to encouraging moss. Although adjusting the soil pH isn’t always a option, so you need to take advice.
A regular programme of cutting, feeding and maintenance programme all lead to less moss and moss is often associated with areas low maintenance.
Tree/bush pruning to allow in more air flow and light ghy .
Control of worm casts, as also a seed bed for moss and weeds.
Keep the surface dry, as you can in the British weather in terms of surface dews.
Applications of sulphate of iron and or lawn sand, not only will this knock the moss but it will also help prevent disease by strengthen the plant.
Height of cut, if too low you may open up the sward, but too high you encourage a damp environment, so talk to your peers and pitch advisors to suitable heights of cut for the time of year.
Look into the possibly if funding can be sources to the installation of drainage, to improve the sites drainage capacities.
If moss invasion covers a large area, once its been treated and any dead material removed then you may need to over seed or more than likely moss or weeds take over the space.
Timing of treatment?
Autumn and Spring
A good grass canopy, via seed rates and a programme of maintenance operations and feeding.
Check soil pH levels.
Keep the surface free draining
The use of iron (Fe) during winter avoiding new seed and possible use of a weed/feed/moss kill product.
Take advice from your fertiliser sales representative to solutions for your site, as sulphate of iron and lawn sands can alter your soils pH level, so needs some considerations before applying regularly.
The first question as l said above it to try and identify why moss is there and to what volume, then we can then identify the source of the moss. If we know its source, we can then hopefully be in position to prevent it, or at worst at least present to our managers/committees the reason it is there.
How to deal with moss on sport pitches by Brian on behalf of the TurfCareBlog Community.
We just had a successful TurfChat on moss, to take a look at the notes just click here – https://turfcareblog.com/turf-chat/
If you wanted more reading on moss, take a look at this blog from last year – https://turfcareblog.com/moss-control-on-turf-5-ways-to-beat-it/