Same lawn, different angle - 8 weeks after scarifying, feeding and overseeding

Moss Reduction Case Studies

At Balanis Gardening we undertook several new garden maintenance clients in late 2017. Several of these properties had severally moss infected lawns. The moss was as deep as 2 inches in parts and down to less than 25% lawn versus 75% moss. I wasn’t happy mowing the moss – I want to mow a lawn or at least something that is 75% grass.

Attack the Moss – scarify

Fortunately the customers were happy for me to undertake a 3 month moss reduction program starting in March and aimed to finish mid June. It’s still ongoing but the results have been very favourable. As the lawn were so bad I decided to scarify the really thick moss out first using our petrol scarifier. The amount of moss that this simple process alone removed was quite remarkable. From a 200m² lawn we had enough moss to fill eight wheelie bins. The reason I removed the thick top layer of moss first was simple. Treating moss with ferrous sulphate will not penetrate much more than an inch (2.5cm). It was necessary to get the moss thinned out to give the ferrous sulphate a chance.

Scarify the lawn to remove the worst moss

[Lawn B] – Stage 1 Moss Reduction – scarify the lawn to remove the worst moss

Next – Apply Ferrous Sulphate

Stage 2- Kill the Moss. A tried and tested way to kill moss and not the lawn is using ferrous sulphate. It’s quite a strong chemical and great care must be taken when using. Ensure it does not fall on porous paving stones as it will permanently stain them. It is vitally important you use the correct amount at the recommended dosage level. You will need to measure the size of your lawn before applying the ferrous sulphate. I applied the FS solution in a backback sprayer. There are some cheap ones online but the Matabi Pro is the best and worth every penny.

My lawn’s turned black! Don’t panic ….

Trust me, if your lawn has a high percentage of moss it is going to look AWFUL after applying the Ferrous Sulphate. The moss will turn brown then black in less than a day. Leave it 3 or 4 days before removing it with the scarifier. These photos below are the actual lawns I treated in April 2018 …. quite scary really when you see them like this … but don’t panic, the lawn will recover if the treatment is followed through to the end.

Lawn after applying ferrous sulphate showing the blackened dead moss

[Lawn A] – After removing the worst of the moss apply Ferrous Sulphate

Lawn after applying ferrous sulphate showing the blackened dead moss

[Lawn B] – The brown and black areas clearly show the dead moss

Fertilise and Over-Seed

The third and fourth stages in the moss removal are all about lawn recovery.  As both these lawns were very bad new grass seed was applied at “new lawn” level. I also know that the blooming wood pigeons will eat half the seed … Before sowing the seed I applied a seasonal lawn fertiliser that the manufacturer recommended for promoting early seed germination. Once the fertiliser was added at the precise dosage it was time to sow the grass seed. On these properties I used a variety of grass seed, some designed specifically for shady areas – under the shade of the large hedges. The other was a general purpose seed, ideal for family lawns – lawns that are played on and don’t always get the besy TLC

Rake in and Roller

When sowing seed it’s important that the seed gets good contact with the soil. I use a combination of raking, stiff brushing and then rollering to ensure the seed is sitting firmly on the soil … now WATER !

Water – water & water.

After all this hard work the next 2 to 3 weeks is all about watering the seeds in. I tried to get the sprinkler on the seed every 2 days for the first few weeks. If it’s rained heavily in any 48 hour period it’s probably ok to miss out a watering session. Make sure you check the seed and soil – don’t let the seed or soil get bone dry ..

3 months later ….

Photo of lawn after moss removal

[Lawn A] – this photo was taken mid June 2018. Not perfect but much better

A moss free green lawn - sprinkling the new grass seed in

[Lawn B] – 3 months and two scarifying sessions later … a nice green lawn

Prevention is better than cure

If you only have a some small patches of moss in your lawn then stop it now before it spreads. There are several good lawn treatments that feed the lawn and kill common weeds & moss. Evergreen is a very popular and highly rated such lawn feed.

Tested – Grampa’s Weeder – stand up weed pulling tool

If you want to get the best tools for a job it’s good to talk to someone who uses the tool in their daily job. At we have used various tools for removing tap root variants of weeds like dandelions, thistles etc.  We recently did a job where we had to remove over 400 hundred thistles and dandelions from a 750m square lawn. We had to remove them by hand – no chemicals allowed – as the customer has an outdoor swimming pond. Here’s our short review of the best value for money stand up weed pulling tool on the market – Grampa’s Weeder. For the best alternative to this tool please scroll down to the money no object option, the best of the best, the Fiskars Xact weed puller

Watch the Video – Grampa’s Weeder in action

Here’s Tristan hard at work with Grampa’s weeder. Sorry about the sound quality – but it was a windy day. This tool takes the back breaking hassle out of removing tap root weeds – dandelions, thistles, dock etc. It’s a simple as 1,2,3,4

Four steps to successful tap root weed removal

  1. Identify the central area of the weed (push back leaves if necessary)
  2. Insert Grampa’s weeder in to the ground so the 4 teeth surround the centre of the weed
  3. Stamp on the base plate to push the tool firmly around the weed
  4. Snap the shaft back 30 degrees and the weed is removed with the tap root instact

Dandelions, Thistles etc – easily removed

The tool we chose was Grampa’s Weeder – a stand up tap root removal tool. The tool removed all 400+ weeds with 90% of them coming up with the tap root intact. On the occassions it snapped the root probably half of those were times we did not centralise Grampa’s Weeder properly.

Grampa's Weeder - tap root weed removal tool in action. Removes dandelions, thistles, dock and more

Which weeds is this tool suitable for?

This weeding tool is suitable for all weeds with a single central TAP ROOT. We have found it to be most successful on the following common UK garden weeds

  • Dandelion Taraxacumofficinale
  • Cats Ear Hypochaerisradicata (like a stunted Dandelion)
  • Broad-Leaved Dock [Rumexobtusifolius]
  • Thistles

It is also effecting on the following common weeds – these have more fibrous roots but still successfully removed with Grampa’s Weeder

  • Greater Plantain Plantago major
  • Ribwort Plantain [Plantagolanceolata]
  • Doves-Foot Cranesbill [Geranium molle]
  • Common Ragwort [Seneciojacobaea]

For help in identifying weeds, please refer to this guide from Perfect Gound Solutions

Other similar tools – Fiskars Xact and Worth Stand Up weeder

Gramdpa’s Weeder is not the only stand up weeding tool on the market – other notable alternatives include the Fiskars Xact and the Worth stand up weeder. Both very good alternatives. I hope to have a side by side comparison of the three tools soon

Fiskars Xact – stand up weed pulling tool

To be 100% honest, this is the tool I was going to buy, but it was a bit over budget for a tool we thought we might not use (how wrong we were). It has over 9,000 reviews on Amazon with an average of 4.5/5 ⭐ – on that evidence alone it must be good. If the budget is there and you prefer something a little more modern in design, please consider the Fiskars Xact as a worthy alternative, if not possibly better, weed pulling tool.

The Fiskars Xact stand up weed pulling tool in action. The tool is shown removing a dandelion from a lawn