WHAT, WHY, HOW

Lawn Moss

live moss 2 edited Pixlr

WHAT, WHY, HOW

Lawn Moss

Moss is an indicator of your lawn’s health – the more moss, the poorer the health. So, if you have a moss problem, as well as addressing it NOW you need to improve your routine lawn care to discourage it in the future. And even if you enjoy the springy feel it adds to your lawn, it is a warning sign that all is not well, and you need to investigate your lawn conditions. 

mossy lawn edited Pixlr
Characteristic yellow-green moss in lawn

What is lawn moss?

Moss is a rootless plant that derives water and nutrients through its leaves. There are several types of lawn moss, usually loose, yellowish-green tufts between the grass, but sometimes densely matted tufts.

How does moss reach my lawn?

Moss spreads by releasing spores that travel in the wind. If they land on exposed lawn thatch they bed in and then, when it is damp, they germinate.

When is the biggest risk of moss?

Moss needs moist conditions to grow, so September to March are the worst months, but with changing weather patterns, ideal moss conditions can occur at any time of year, especially if the thatch prevents good drainage or rain prevents regular mowing.

How do I discourage moss?

Basically, you need to maintain good basic lawn care. A healthy lawn offers neither the space nor the conditions for moss to thrive. Here are four key areas to work on to discourage or prevent moss:

  1. Drainage: Moss needs a moisture-retentive surface. You can maintain good drainage through routine scarification and aeration, as well as correct mowing.
  2. Nutrition: Poorly fed grass thins out and lets moss spores land on the thatch. Once established, the moss competes with the grass for nutrients, leading to further grass loss and more space for the moss to fill. Properly-fed grass is too thick to allow moss room to thrive.
  3. Thatch: Moss loves a moisture-retentive thick layer of thatch. So, use routine scarification to keep the thatch under control.
  4. Mowing: Cutting the grass too short will open up the thatch to moss spores. Also, an exposed thatch, in both wet and arid conditions, worsens drainage, thereby eventually creating that moist environment the moss loves so much.

Some people blame shade for their moss, but often the underlying reason for moss in shady areas is the condition of the lawn itself. So before chopping down bushes or tree branches, check whether the lawn can be improved first.

How do I kill moss?

moss shot before MOSS edited Pixlr
BEFORE scarifying and applying moss control
moss shot after scarmoss control MOSS edited Pixlr
AFTER treatment (dead moss removed by light scarification)

You need to use ferrous sulphate, but BEFORE you do this, scarify the lawn. This ensures that the moss control reaches the base of the moss plants, rather than just the upper part, and kills it completely. Apply moss control as a liquid application not a granular or feed ‘n’ weed product; this reaches the moss more evenly and kills it without blackening the grass (if it does blacken, you have simply used too much or have not used enough water).

How do I remove dead moss from the lawn?

For small areas you can use a wire rake. But on larger areas, another scarification is the best way to remove the moss (see photo above). Your aim is to gently tease the moss away from the surface without disturbing the grass too much.

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