I get a lot of emails asking about iron and the lawn. Here is some simple information to help you as you consider an iron application.
Why put iron on your lawn?
Assuming your grass is fairly green and healthy already, you can add a light dose of iron as a way of achieving a richer, deeper blue-green color. This is will surely set your lawn apart in the neighborhood. In fact, it is iron that makes Kentucky Blue Grass, “blue.”
However, iron can also be used to correct soil deficiencies and is considered a viable organic alternative to heavy synthetic nitrogen. (nitrogen gives the lawn a greening but also pushes growth) If your turf grass looks dull yellow, chances are a good dose of iron will help restore it.
What is a good iron additive for the lawn?
You can get DIY iron treatments in liquid and granular form (I prefer granular as liquid is difficult to apply evenly). There are also several quality organic sources of iron available. In most cases, you should look for iron that has been “chelated.”
Long story short, chelated iron has been chemically bonded in such a way as to make the iron readily available for grass plants to use. Minerals are not easily absorbed by plants, and can also be bound up in high pH soils. Using a chelated iron product will get more of the iron into the grass plants quicker for better results.
My favorite iron additive is Milorganite, which is a 100% organic slow release source of chelated iron. In addition, Milorganite contains slow release nitrogenthat works alongside the iron. Another popular iron supplement for lawns is “Ironite.” You can get it at most garden centers.
Some general purpose fertilizers will have a small percentage of iron included as well. Scott’s makes a blend with 2% iron, for example. The problem with these products are that they include way too much fast-releasing nitrogen that will end up pushing unnecessary growth in your lawn.
Negatives to Iron use on the lawn
First off, Ironite, for example, will stain your driveway, brickwork, patio and deck a rusty orange color! There is almost no avoiding this. Once one small pellet hits one of these areas and gets wet, it’s immediately stained. Milorganite, however, does not stain and is more goof-proof.
Secondly, too much iron will turn the lawn a strange dark grey color. If you use Milorganite, you don’t run this risk due to the extreme slow release nature of the product.
When to add Iron to the Lawn
Late spring is the best time to put down your iron treatment. Ideally, temperatures will be between 60 and 70 degrees. NEVER apply iron when temperatures are in the low 80s or higher as this can cause undue stress to grass plants.
I have written article on easy fertilizing techniques that will show you how to apply iron to your lawn evenly. This is important as uneven coverage will cause extreme color variation in your yard.
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