Moss growing in lawns is a frequent homeowner’s plight, especially for those who take pride in having a flawless stretch of turf in their plot.
If you have Moss in your lawn, the grass doesn’t have the conditions to thrive. The beauty is that while the resulting uneven appearance might be aggravating, it is fixable.
Is Moss bad for your lawn?
Yes, Moss is bad for your lawn as it competes with grass for resources. Moss grows in dense mats across the soil’s surface, leading to competition for water and other nutrients.
Moss competes with your grass by blocking the passage of water and nutrients to the roots. When this occurs, the grass becomes weak and may even die.
The other bad thing about Moss is that it gives your lawn an ugly look. Although Moss looks beautiful and green in the winter, it dies in the summer, creating unsightly brown areas.
Dead Moss accumulates as thatch at the grass’s base, preventing air and water from reaching the grassroots.
What causes Moss in lawns
Moss can come about due to a variety of reasons. The common ones are:
Mowing too close to the ground
Scalping or mowing too close to the ground removes so much leaf that the grass cannot operate correctly and provide food.
Mowing too close may also damage the grass crown, resulting in slow recovery or death, not to mention making room for Moss to thrive.
To combat this, keep your grass-cutting height above three-quarter inches for all lawns other than ornamental lawns.
The grass has plenty of leaves to function properly at this height or above. If you have to scalp due to bumps in your yard, consider removing the bumps or raising the mower.
If you already have a lot of Moss on your lawn, consider raising your mowing height to two inches.
This way, you ensure that your grass gets a lot of light on its leaves while putting the lower-growing Moss in the shade and failing to give it the ideal thriving environment.
Failing to mow the lawn frequent enough
Most people tend to cut off too much grass when they mow it less regularly (every two to three weeks). This causes the lawn to go into shock, temporarily inhibiting growth and allowing Moss to thrive.
Instead of doing this, you should mow the grass regularly, preferably once a week. When you mow your lawn regularly, the grass spreads sideways, creating a denser lawn and preventing the Moss from growing.
A great way to ensure that you mow your lawn more frequently is to follow the ‘one-third rule,’ which states that you should never remove more than one-third of the grass height in a single cut. This way, you always have grass growing, so you mow more frequently.
Your lawn is too compacted.
Lawn compaction occurs when there is a shortage of air gaps between soil particles, implying that the soil contains no air and hence cannot store or drain water. The outcome of this is an “unhealthy, lifeless, and slow-growing” lawn.
It may be too compacted to get the fork in at times, so wait till it softens with rain, spike it, and maintain it watered and spiked so it’s always firm but not hard.
You have many trees on your lawn.
In the summer, trees compete with lawns for water and light, then cover them with leaves in the autumn. When you leave leaves on the lawn for over a week, you weaken and even kill the grass, giving Moss a chance to thrive.
Unfortunately, there is no simple cure for this. The best you can do is to sweep the leaves once a week. If it’s dry, use the mower to suck up the leaves. You can also use a blower or rake to remove the leaves.
Remember that if you keep your grass at the proper height, you will always have an easy time removing leaves.
Your soil is poor in nutrients.
The grass cannot fight off a moss attack if it struggles due to low soil nutrition.
How will Moss grow on your lawn while your grass is struggling? Moss will grow happily on your lawn because it is accustomed to low nutrient levels. As a result, a hungry lawn becomes appealing to Moss.
To avoid this, make it a habit to feed your lawn at least once a year in the spring. If you have a moss problem, consider using an autumn or winter fertilizer to keep nitrogen levels at their peak.
Your grass is damaged.
If your lawn has a lot of foot traffic, you will most likely damage the grass. To avoid this, move the portions of the lawn where people walk so that a worn area is protected beyond repair.
You also should be ready to re-seed the area before the Moss and weeds take over.
Your lawn has excess thatch.
If thatch grows deeper than half an inch, fertilizer, and water intake will be reduced to the grassroots. This makes life difficult for the grass and easy for the Moss.
While a quarter-inch coating of thatch is fine and useful, if there is too much present, you will need to remove it by scarifying the lawn.
Your lawn has poor drainage.
Moss does not require a lot of sunshine to flourish; in fact, it thrives in wet and dark environments. If you observe Moss growing in your lawn, it could signal that you have a soil drainage problem.
When was the last time you aerated your lawn? If you can’t recall, it was probably a long time ago. Checking the grass on a relatively dry day is a good way to see if it has become wet.
Walking on the grass and seeing water come to the surface indicates that water has not evaporated or been drained away.
In addition to being an indicator of a drainage problem, Moss can also contribute to poor grass health. The dense vegetation acts like a sponge, absorbing a lot of surface water that would otherwise seep into the soil.
Because the water is retained in the Moss above the surface, your grass will struggle to acquire enough water. If you suspect Moss is causing a drainage problem, remove it and aerate your lawn.
What is the best way to get rid of Moss?
If you have a moss problem in your lawn, you can get rid of it in several ways. These ways include:
Apply a moss killer.
If you need a quick remedy, apply a commercial moss killer. When you are in the market, buy a product containing ferrous ammonium or iron sulfate. To achieve ideal results, always follow the mixing instructions on the packet.
These products often come in granule form, and in most cases, you require multiple applications, and it can take several weeks to show results.
Remember to be cautious around children or pets and use the best gardening gloves when applying them.
Remember that not all moss killers are effective, and you’ll still need to address the underlying reasons for the moss problem.
While many commercial moss killers are on the market, you can also manufacture your non-toxic solution.
Combine one to two tablespoons of mild dish soap in a garden sprayer with one gallon of lukewarm water. Then, evenly distribute the mixture over the Moss.
If you leave it on for at least 24 hours to a few days, you’ll notice the Moss turning yellow and eventually drying away.
This will make raking and removal easier. If not, keep reapplying the dish soap and water combination until the Moss dies.
Another option is to combine two gallons of water with baking soda before applying it to the Moss.
Rake and scarify your lawn
Moss is shallow-rooted, so you can easily remove it by raking or scraping it off the grass.
You need a bow or leaf rake to remove the Moss from the soil. You can also use a spine-tine lawn rake, which is simpler to use when the lawn is moist from light rain or watering.
Hand rakes with a few long, pointed tines, like the Garden Guru Stainless Steel Hand Rake, are great for digging in confined spaces.
If you have a more widespread moss problem, you can remove it while dethatching your lawn. This calls for you to install your lawn mower with a dethatching blade and pull out heavy layers or clumps of dead grass suffocating the surface.
If you are asking, does dethatching get rid of Moss? Yes, it does.
This raking technique, also known as scarifying, eliminates Moss and thatch (dead grass) from your lawn, allowing it to breathe and be healthier.
If you notice bare patches in your lawn after raking, you must plant grass seed to make your yard greener.
You should note that raking or scarifying should not damage your lawn. This is because grass has longer roots that will hold into the soil and survive the raking.
Improve the light levels in your lawn.
Moss thrives in shady areas or with low light for extended periods. This means that improving light levels over the lawn is one approach to preventing Moss.
You could chop back overgrown plants, trees, or towering hedges to open up your yard. You want to avoid overhanging trees near the lawn because they will block out important light.
Most grasses require at least six hours of direct sunlight daily, depending on the grass species and climate.
Some shade-tolerant grasses can flourish with only three or four hours of sunlight. By increasing the amount of sunlight, you help eliminate moss growth and increase the health of your lawn.
While this is the case, if you have predominantly shady areas, you should avoid growing grass there as it will always be infested with Moss.
Instead, you should grow shade-tolerant plants, shrubs, or flowers that thrive there. Excellent choices include rhododendron, pachysandra, and ajuga.
Aerate the lawn
Are you asking, does aerating get rid of Moss? Yes, it does.
As mentioned above, heavy soil compaction, which inhibits water, air, and necessary nutrients from reaching the grassroots, is a major source of Moss. Thankfully, aerating the lawn will reduce compaction and improve soil air circulation.
Aerating a lawn entails puncturing the ground with a spike or core lawn aerator. Spike aerators are equipped with long spikes that penetrate the ground as they pass over it.
The core aerators draw up soil cores, leaving them on the surface.
You should aerate the soil two to three times a year to inhibit moss growth while allowing for good grass growth all year.
If you are wondering which aerators are best, go for Walensee Lawn Spike Aerator. If you have a large yard, rent a mechanical aerator.
Overseed the sparse areas.
After removing the Moss, weeds, and bare parts on the lawn, consider over-seeding the lawn.
Early fall is often the best time for this because the coming weather will be cooler and damper, but you may re-sow in spring as long as you keep an eye out for weeds and keep the areas irrigated for two or three days.
If the sparse areas are shaded, choose a shade-tolerant grass seed mix.
FAQs on Moss on the lawn
What to do after getting rid of Moss
You should always help the lawn recover after any invasive treatment. This is easier if you’ve planned ahead, and nature provides warmth, sun, and rain.
You should add grass seed to the lawn. If the damage is spotty, a modest scattering (10 to 20 seeds per square inch – no more) into those places may suffice.
However, if you’ve done extensive de-mossing or dethatching, it’s risky to expect a full and uniform recovery, so sprinkle some grass seed across the lawn.
If you will use iron sulfate or other iron fertilizer and overseed, put the seed in a few days later.
You also should apply fertilizer to the lawn. For the best outcome, apply a potassium-containing fertilizer, which helps the grass fight off the stress of raking and protects against illness.
Why do I keep getting Moss on my lawn?
Moss will always return to your lawn if you don’t keep up with it, especially if the conditions favor Moss in your grass.
Moss grows in lawns when the conditions are favorable, and the growing conditions for lawn grasses are not optimal.
Moss cannot compete with grass when it is fully grown. Low soil fertility, low pH (acid soils), compaction of the soil surface, poor drainage, lack of aeration, shade, and limited grass growth all favor mosses.
It is a constant battle, but following the tips above will keep the Moss in your lawn in check.
Does mowing affect Moss?
Close mowing can severely weaken lawn grasses, causing them to become thin and unable to cope with weeds and Moss. To avoid this, keep the grass at a height of 20mm.
Mow utility lawns three times every two weeks during the growing season. Moss can also be encouraged by longer, coarser grass. Attempt to reduce this to less than 25mm.
Which is the best time to apply moss killer to the lawn
Chemical treatments are most effective in the spring, when active moss development resumes, or in the autumn before severe frosts arrive.
What should I do with the dead Moss?
Moss in the lawn will turn black and die after using a moss killer. However, raking off the dead Moss will be important because its presence will continue to impede the growth of the lawn.
The raked Moss is a fantastic addition to the compost heap.
Feed the lawn with a seasonally appropriate fertilizer and lightly dress if necessary. Seeding in sparsely populated areas can be done in the spring or early autumn.
Which are the best chemicals for controlling Moss on the lawn?
For vast regions, ferrous sulfate is a great choice. It can be found in lawn sand, which contains fertilizers that help the lawn grow.
What will kill Moss and not grass?
Moss cannot be killed, no matter what product you use.
The best technique to remove Moss rather than grass is to maintain a thorough lawn care regimen of scarifying, aerating, and mowing. Keep the lawn healthy, and allow air and nutrients to reach the grass’s roots.
Keep soil and thatch levels healthy and apply moss control after each scarification to help prevent Moss from taking hold.
How do I keep Moss from growing in my grass?
Put the measures mentioned above in place.