Thick moss growth in your lawn indicates a big issue. This could be a sign of poor soil conditions, like an acidic or compacted soil. Thick lawn moss could also mean that the area is receiving either inadequate or too much sunlight.
No matter what factor prompted your lawn to have moss growth, you need to work on getting rid of it. Continue reading so you will know how to kill moss in your lawn and ensure that it does not come back.
What is Moss Growth?
Moss refers to a common and annoying lawn weed. It tends to plague damp and shady lawn areas, specifically those where favorable turf grass seems to be unable to grow full and thick.
Moss has several species but all of them can be identified as primitive plants featuring small leaves that are as thick as only one cell. The moss does not reproduce through seeds. The reproduction process happens through spores, instead.
One more thing that you should know about moss is that it is structurally different compared to vascular weed. This is the reason why you can’t expect them to respond to similar methods designed to control them.
One fact about moss is that it has shallow roots. This means that it is not that hard to remove it immediately. Note, though, that if you want to do permanent moss control, which means that your goal is to prevent moss lawns from coming back, your focus should be on making some changes to cultural conditions designed to support their growth.
5 Causes of Lawn Moss
For you to deal with lawn moss, it is important to identify its cause first. That way, you can treat it appropriately.
There is a high chance for moss to appear on your lawn because of too much moisture. It could be that you have soggy soil, which often happens with the clay type of soil. This also happens because of poor drainage.
If the soil is soggy, it can drown grassroots. However, the moss in your lawn with shallow roots can withstand and even survive being in wet soil. This is why you have to address the poor drainage issue, so it won’t lead to excessive moisture that may result in a mossy lawn that is difficult to manage.
Too much shade
If you have grass plants in your garden, then note that they need significant amount of direct sunlight for photosynthesis to take place and ensure that they stay healthy. Grass varieties capable of tolerating shade can handle slightly less light.
However, there are also moss varieties that can thrive even if there is excessive shade. You may want to prevent them from surviving due to too much shade by trimming the trees’ lower branches.
Infertile or acidic soil
Acidic soil, one that has a very low pH level, can negatively affect the growth of the surrounding grass. Meanwhile, moss seems to work well when exposed to acidic soils. To determine the suitability of soil to the grass you are growing in your loan, use a soil tester.
Generally, you need to provide turfgrass with a pH level that is around 6.0 to 7.0. Do the necessary soil amendments based on the soil test results so you can make the soil’s pH level more suitable for your grass. It should also be made less acidic.
In general, grasses are strong and tough plus capable of growing in clay top soils, especially in those instances when they are in a moist environment or surface. The problem is denser clays or extreme soil compaction that may harm them. This is not the case with moss as they tend to grow even better in this condition, especially if the clay is dense.
Poor trimming or mowing
Poor trimming or mowing, especially if you made it too short, can also result in your lawn changing from having a desirable or favorable type of grass into a less desirable one. If the mowing is too short or it leads to scalping, you can’t expect your desirable grasses to survive.
What you will end up with, instead, is moss or low-growing weed. There is a high chance for you to encounter the same result if you use weed whackers in trimming the grass’ edges near the ground.
This prevents short grass from producing foods or photosynthesizing, lowering its chance of survival and making more room for moss growth.
Why You Should Control Lawn Moss?
Several homeowners love how the existing moss appears but take note that such spiny patches are actually not good for your lawn as they indicate the presence of an underlying problem, which you have to deal with appropriately.
In general, you can’t classify moss as invasive and is not harmful to your lawn. There are even gardeners who take advantage of mossy patches and use them as ground cover. They also provide unique and nice touches to a garden.
Note, though, that their presence indicates that there is something wrong with your lawn. This makes it necessary to get rid of moss, which often serves as a warning sign of a problem instead of a weed.
When you see moss in your garden, it lets you know that there is something wrong in your yard and you have to take care of it fast. You can improve the overall health of your lawn if you take the target moss under control.
6 Way on How to Control and Kill Moss
The ideal time to kill and control moss is during its active growth phase. You can expect moss to be actively growing during the early spring, warm winter rains, and fall rains. Note that lawn moss does not require a lot of nutrients and light to live.
However, it needs moisture both in the plant and its surrounding environment. Here are ways to kill lawn moss and ensure that you provide it with an environment that prevents it from growing excessively.
Plant various healthy grass species
One fact about moss is that it is opportunistic. Sometimes, it also tends to fill in areas in the lawn that was left bare since your chosen grass variety is not suitable for shady conditions.
In this case, the best solution when it comes to controlling moss is for you to switch or change the grasses. For instance, you can use tall fescue grass, which is a shade-tolerant grass with the ability to crowd moss upon being completely established.
You can do the switching of grasses simultaneously. What it takes is to kill the existing lawn then use sod or seed to plant a new one. Another alternative is to use a shade-tolerant grass seed repeatedly.
A wise tip is to make the soil in bare spots or spaces penetrated by more moss loose then have the new seed sprinkled there. You can then expect these areas to flourish into a lawn space that is not only shade-tolerant but also moss-resistant within around one to two years.
Once planted, make sure to stick to the suggested care procedures, including fertilizing. Remember that dense and healthy grass means that there is no or just minimal moss.
Use chemical solutions
To get rid of moss from your existing lawn, it is important to kill the living plant. You can visit a garden store in your locality to find chemical herbicides or an effective and safe chemical moss killer.
Most of these products are iron-based. They feed your lawn while controlling and killing moss. Just make sure to look for a chemical herbicide or product designed specifically to kill lawn moss. Avoid herbicides made for other weeds since these normal weed killers are ineffective against moss and may only cause damage to your turf.
Apply the herbicide for moss control during their peak or active growing season, which is often during early fall and spring. It is the season when moss gets exposed to cool and damp weather, which they love the most, the reason why it is indeed their peak growing season.
Use an organic solution
If you are one of those who do not favor the use of synthetic chemicals, you can rest assured that there are non-toxic and organic remedies that are effective against lawn moss. One is a baking soda solution, which you can make by mixing a box of it with around two gallons of water (lukewarm) in a garden sprayer.
After mixing, spray this baking soda solution on moss patches. You can also use ordinary dish soap. Just put water and the soap in a garden sprayer then mix them. As a guide, pour 5-oz. dish soap for every gallon of water.
It can create a solution that can quickly remove and kill moss. You can also use commercial horticultural soaps that work effectively if you want to get rid of moss.
Address excessive shade
There are also instances when you just have to address the problem associated with too much shade, so you can also eliminate the lawn moss problem. What you should do is to remove trees to make the area more open and make it receive more sunlight. You can also prune trees, specifically their lower and larger branches.
Note that a lot of grasses grow well when given at least 6-hour direct sun daily. However, some grasses that are shade-tolerant are okay with 3 to 4 hours of sunlight. When pruning trees, our goal is to give sunlight based on such amounts.
Assess your soil
Poor soil conditions, including nutritional deficiencies and soil pH moss problems, often cause moss infestations. To start the assessment and investigation, send a soil sample to the local cooperative extension service. That way, they will be the ones to test the soil for you.
Inform them of your need to remove moss from your lawn. You should then ask for information regarding appropriate nutrient content and soil pH level. Another thing to remember is that your lawn often gets infested with moss because of acidic soil.
It is mainly because turf grasses have bad responses to acid situations. Note, though, that you should never amend the soil using agricultural lime, which refers to an alkaline powder capable of reducing acidity unless you receive a soil test result indicating that it is indeed necessary.
Wait for the result of this test as this will provide recommendations regarding the best way to adjust the pH level, like using wood ash as a means of topdressing it. The test can also inform you about soil nutrients, fertilizer recommendations, and any other adjustments and amendments to make it appropriate for turfgrass growth.
Thatch refers to a layer consisting of dead grass, roots, leaves, and other organic matter gradually accumulating between the grass as well as the soil beneath it. Excessive thatch causes excess moisture and compacted soil, which is among the conditions preferred by moss.
In that case, you have to do a process called dethatching, a kind of deep lawn raking capable of removing excess thatch. This will then let nutrients, air, and water, efficiently pass through the ground.
Assess the need for dethatching by identifying how thick the thatch is. To determine whether it is already excessive, use a shovel to dig a part of your yard. It should be around three inches deep.
You can then find a spongy and brown layer between the soil and grass. It refers to the thatch, which you have to measure. Dethatching is necessary if the thatch’s thickness is already over one-half inch.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Should moss be removed from the lawn?
Yes, especially during spring and autumn. The reason is your lawn still recovers from the extreme and heavy usage it went through during the summer months when the autumn season comes.
To ensure that your lawn stays healthy and survives throughout the winter, get rid of moss during the spring and autumn seasons. This should prevent it from causing major problems soon.
Do you have to mow a moss lawn?
In most cases, there is no need to mow a moss lawn. Mowing is unnecessary for moss, which makes it different from grass since the former is incapable of goring over four inches tall. It does not also need regular watering unless during dry and hot weather.
How long do I have to wait to seed after removing moss?
If you are using a moss killer, make it a point to wait for around two weeks before seeding again. This is the time you should wait before you can seed again after applying the moss killer.
How to prevent moss from coming back?
For your lawn to continue to be free from moss, you have to take all the steps necessary to correct the problems that resulted in its growth. Have your soil tested to find out whether your lawn requires fast-acting lime to lessen soil acidity while encouraging the healthy growth of grass.
You also have to work on improving those areas that indicate poor drainage. Improve drainage in such areas to ensure that unwanted moss will no longer return, thereby ensuring that you will have healthy lawn in the end. You also have to thin nearby shrubs or trees to ensure that more sunlight penetrates the grass below.
For compacted soil, it is important for aeration to take place to guarantee the prevention of future moss growth. You also have to focus on regular and effective lawn care and maintenance so you can keep your grass strong and healthy.