Removing Moss From Your Lawn

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Did you know that moss growth can be an indication that your lawn is in some serious trouble?

These problems can jeopardize the health and vitality of your lawn.  I’m sure you’ve put a lot of hard work in to keeping your lawn beautiful.  You don’t need this uninvited plant to soak up the moisture that’s so essential to your grass, flowers, shrubs, and trees.

Today you’ll learn about the damage that it can do to your grass and why its growing there in the first place.  You’ll also learn how to get rid of it as well as some preventative methods to prevent it from showing up in the first place.

Removing lawn moss properly requires a guide.

Reasons It’s Growing

The presence of moss is not the problem.  It doesn’t kill the grass. Rather, it represents a symptom of a bigger problem.

Before we get to the possible methods of getting rid of it (later in this article), we must diagnose the issue.

Without diagnosing the issue you will be fighting a losing battle as the it will keep returning.

Thatch Build-Up

Thatch is a build-up of organic material on your yard.  Patches of thatch on will not allow water to flow to the soil effectively.  Moss will inhabit moisture-rich environments like the ones created by thatch build-up.

Thatch buildup can weaken grass and allow moss to grow

Excessive Shade

Moss needs an environment that is damp to thrive.  For an area to remain damp for extended periods, it needs to be sheltered from the heat of the sun.

Lawns with areas that remain in the shade tend retain water.  While your grass does need water to survive, too much water will drown its root systems. This will cause your grass to thin out and will allow the rhizoids of the invasive plant to anchor onto it.

Poor Soil Drainage

Moss will thrive in areas where the water is stagnant.  This is just the kind of conditions you will find in soil with poor drainage.  The water is not freely circulating to the roots of the grass.

If you’re practicing proper watering techniques, but you’re still dealing with problems, poor soil drainage might be your problem.

Poor soil drainage can lead to moss growth that requires maintenance

Compacted Soil

Compacted soil might be the reason that your turf drains poorly.  So you might have your answer as to why your soil has poor drainage. 

But compact soil conditions present more problems than just poor drainage.

Compact soils do not allow for the adequate circulation of air, water, and nutrients.  This will cause the grass to experience stress and affect its overall health. 

As your grass experiences stress, it allows invasive plants to take hold. Furthermore, moss does not rely on the soil to provide its essential nutrients, further giving it an advantage over your grass.

Compacted soil can lead to low aeration which allows invasive species to grow

Poor Soil Fertility

Healthy grass requires healthy roots below to support it.  Soil that does not have enough of an essential nutrient like potassium or nitrogen (or any number of other essential elements) will cause grass growth to be unhealthy and slow. 

Just like compacted soil can weaken the grass, so can the lack of nutrients. This may occur when water runs through the soil excessively and gets rid of the minerals feeding the root systems.

Overwatering can wash these minerals beyond the reach of the grass’ roots.  Poor soil structure might also be a contributing factor.

Mossy lawns need to be fixed as soon as possible

Poor Soil pH

Moss has an affinity for acidic soils.  Lawns with a soil pH level of between 5.0 and 5.5 are prime target. 

On the other hand, it has also been known to grow on limestone rocks with a basic pH. So all things considered, while an abnormal pH level is contributing to your problem, it likely isn’t the only issue.

Nonethless, correcting your soil’s pH is crucial to increasing your chance of success.

Poor Lawn Care Practices

One of the primary reasons you’re dealing with the problem may just be because of you. Yes, I just called you out. The truth is that you most likely have played a role in causing the misfortune. You have either done too much or not enough of some essential components in adequately caring for your yard.

It’s admirable that you’re out there doing the job yourself when so many of your neighbors have farmed it out to the professionals.  But anything worth doing is worth doing right.  So if you aren’t sure about something, I assure you there is someone out there that has the answers you’re looking for.

Make sure to look in our navigation above for our multiple articles on proper lawncare.

Moss grows well on damp lawns.

Control Methods

Commercial Killer

Most commercial products use the chemical compound ferrous sulfate. 

Before applying it, you should mow the top of the moss to expose the rhizoids and spores.  Apply the chemical according to the product label instructions and wait.  You will know that it is dying because it will turn black.

These iron-based products are usually applied with a spreader.  Using a spreader ensures even coverage of the affected area. These products often contain nutrients to feed the grass and vegetation so even coverage is important. 

Remove it with a garden rake or by hand (wear protective gloves) once it dies. 

We recommend carrying out this procedure in the autumn or spring so that you can sow grass seeds on the bare earth that is left behind.  This timing gives the seeds the best conditions for germinating and taking root.

There are also organic control products that use bacteria to kill moss by digesting it.  As the bacteria digest it, they also naturally fertilize the soil.

An organic product is more eco-friendly.  It can also save you some time and effort because you won’t have to remove the dead remanents.

Moss can be unsightly and needs to be removed

Home Remedies

Dish soap and baking soda are two products that contain effective moss control ingredients. 

You can mix 2 gallons of water with one box of baking soda into a garden sprayer.  Or you can mix between 2 and 4 ounces of dish soap per gallon of water into a solution as well.

Simply spray it on your lawn to stop its growth.  It will take some time to die.  Once you have killed it off, remove it by hand or with a rake.

Address the Thatch Issue

As addressed above, if you have a lot of thatch build up, then it is likely contributing to the problem.

You can buy a dethatching blade attachment for most lawn mowers.  This blade not only takes care of the thatch but will get rid of moss as well.

Thatch should be removed to prevent moss growth

Figure Out the Underlying Problem

Remember that at the end of the day, there is most likely an underlying problem that has resulted in the moss being there. 

Use our guide above and do some detective work. Don’t jump to conclusions or make any assumptions.

Return to the basics of good lawn care. Practice proper mowing techniques, water appropriately, and avoid compacted soil. By ensuring proper care, you can eliminate variables one at a time.

You may also want to buy a soil test kit or send your soil in to be analyzed. Usually it’s not as simple as adding fertilizer to your soil or changing the pH of your soil.

Remember that the best way to keep moss from growing anywhere on your property is to ensure your methods of caring for your lawn are the correct ones. 

If you don’t know where to start, start with our lawncare guide. On that page you will find more information to make sure your lawn is in tip-top condition!

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About the author: Jeffrey Douglas is a horticultural hobbyist that loves everything related to plants and gardening. He specializes in gardens and houseplants.

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