Have you ever had a situation where no matter how hard you try you just cannot get your lawn to look as green as you like? Even worse, whenever you peek outside your window you see your neighbor has a lush green carpet of turf that’s the envy of the street. What can you do to get that same deep healthy look? Products like chelated iron for lawns are great for quickly making grass greener, and in my opinion something like this is a good place for you to start.
But why is chelated iron important for lawns, and what’s the difference between chelated iron and regular iron supplements you put on your lawn?
In this article, we’ll go over its benefits and how to use chelated iron on your lawn to get the most from your investment. You’ll learn how to get the best results and how chelated iron can fit into your year-long lawn care plan to produce the healthiest lawn possible.
What Is Chelated Iron?
Chelated iron is a supplement that makes lawns and other plants produce the healthiest, greenest, and most vibrant green leaves possible.
Other Iron vs Chelated Iron for Lawns
An Iron chelate is a molecule that attaches to the iron to create macronutrients that can be taken by plants. It acts as a protective barrier between the iron and oxygen, preventing it from oxidizing, or rusting. Moreover, Iron Chelate stops iron from separating from the soil. That allows plants to continue absorbing it, and it’s one of the reasons why chelated iron is one of the best forms you can use on your grass.
Chelate comes from the Latin word “chele” which means lobster claw. By literally clamping to the iron, the chelate holds it in place.
As a supplement for your plants, the chelate maintains iron’s integrity and provides the nutrient to the plant by making it more accessible.
It is possible to add iron supplements that don’t have chelates but doing so runs the risk of the iron becoming oxidized.
When looking at a fertilizer label to choose a chelated iron supplement for your lawn, look for one that lists:
These are the most common types of chelate available. Chelated iron supplements otherwise look like any other fertilizer available in powder, pellet, spike, and even liquid form by mixing with granules.
A Few of My Favorite Chelated Iron Products
I’ve used many different chelated iron products on my lawn over the years, but these are a few of my favorites that have consistently delivered great results.
- Southern Ag Chelated Liquid Iron (Amazon link)
- LawnStar Chelated Liquid Iron (Amazon link)
- Fertilome Chelated Liquid Iron (Amazon link)
- Simple Lawn Solutions Liquid Iron Darker Green (Amazon link)
Why Use Chelated Iron?
Iron is an essential part of getting a truly green lawn and is fundamental in the plant’s process of photosynthesis.
It’s not just for lawns … it will help just about any other plant you have in your garden, including flowers and vegetables.
How often you need to add chelated iron to your turf depends on the current condition of the grass.
If the lawn is already losing color and your grass is more yellow than green, you may need to distribute chelated iron up to 10 times each year. If your grass is mostly healthy by needs a boost, 3-4 applications each year should be plenty.
Always evenly spread the product on your lawn to achieve a uniform look. And make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions about how much product to use. These free online lawn square footage calculators can help you get a really accurate application (and tell you how much product to buy).
Some chelated iron products have formulas that are also rich in other macro-nutrients that are essential for healthy plant life. Others may only provide an iron supplement. Which type of iron product is best for your lawn will depend upon the rest of your lawn care and fertilizer plan.
Benefits of Using Chelated Iron on Your Lawn
There are quite a few reasons why chelated iron is an amazing supplement to use to green up your grass. Whether your priority is lawn health, curb appeal, or both, an application can help you achieve the results you want.
The benefits include:
All plants need iron, and a lot of soil is short on this (you can do a lawn soil test to see how depleted your soil is). If you buy chelated iron, you can use it throughout your garden, not just on your lawn, which makes it a great value compared to some other products you buy for your lawn.
Want to bring your rose bush back to its vivid best? Want your vegetables to look more edible? An iron supplement can help you achieve the look you desire, as well as boosting the health of your plants.
It’s also helpful if you can find a product that provides some other basic macronutrients.
Works with All Soil
Most iron deficiencies in plants are caused by poor-quality soil. It is important that chelated iron can perform in all types of soil, even if it is less than optimal in terms of quality.
Landscapers and general homeowners looking after a lawn are familiar with being told to wait for specific times of the year to perform turf management tasks. With chelated iron, there are no such limitations. It works all year round.
This is great for busy homeowners who may be on the road a lot. If you’re having company, planning a cookout, or a birthday party you can apply chelated iron in the week beforehand and impress your guests with a lush, dark-green lawn.
Chelated iron is available in both organic and synthetic products:
Organic Fertilizer with Chelated Iron
Most organic iron fertilizer has chelates, meaning the plant can absorb the supplement more easily. It is worth noting organic solutions usually require more time to break down and interact with your lawn.
There are fewer side effects with an organic approach. Iron can stain concrete, but organic chelated iron products will typically help you avoid these ugly iron stains.
Man-made iron fertilizers are a good choice if you need a quick fix or immediate green-up of your lawn.
By using chemicals, these products can be applied as a spray or in granules. You may see your lawn become greener in a matter of days following application.
But in spite of the quick results and low cost, synthetic options can have adverse effects on your lawn if overapplied. They can actually turn your lawn gray instead of green. And these products can also stain concrete (keep it away from paths and driveways).
What Does Iron Do for Lawns?
Greener lawns have a healthier look. That’s not just visual confusion, either. If your turf is discolored, then that suggests the grass is fundamentally unhealthy.
Sure, sunlight and water can do a lot for your lawn. But sometimes you just need to give Mother Nature a helping hand by boosting the nutrients in your soil.
Iron, and especially chelated iron, are hardly new for managing lawns. In fact, some popular fertilizers (like Milorganite, one of my favorite organic grass foods) already have iron in them and listed on their packages.
Of course, it’s no secret that plants need some basic nutrients and chemicals to survive. That’s why every bag of fertilizer has the big three nutrients listed front and center.
But plants also need iron to reach their full potential. Especially for a fully grown and healthy lawn, iron is a fundamental part of the puzzle.
How Iron Deficiencies Happen in Plants
As I’ve said, Iron is incredibly important for the wellbeing of lawn grass and other plants. Deficiencies can cause many problems, so let’s close by talking about what this looks like (and why it happens).
Poor coloration and malformed leaf growth are some of the first signs of iron deficiencies. Grass will turn an off-yellow color in its veins and creases.
The leaf margins turning yellow is another indicator your plant needs more iron.
Poor Soil Causes Iron Deficiencies
Most iron problems are caused by soil, and usually by low-cost soil products. Some types of soil, such as chalk or clay can cause a lack of iron. High pH and heavily irrigated soil can cause plants to not receive enough iron as well.
Iron deficiencies happen when iron contacts oxygen, whether that oxygen contact comes in the form of air or water. This occurs because iron is a metal ion and oxidizes as a result. When iron is exposed to these two elements, the iron in your soil locks up. Basically, itgets sealed off from the rest of your soil. This means that it cannot be absorbed properly by plants.
You can make iron useful again by treating it and “unlocking” it so plants can absorb it again.