How To Get Moss Out Of Your Lawn
If you live in a wet climate, you likely have moss in your lawn. While I personally enjoy the look moss can lend to a yard, that’s not why you’re here, is it? You’re here to know how to get moss out of your lawn now. Luckily, it’s rather simple.
Moss thrives in wet environments, and grass tends to do poorly in overly moist areas. The most effective way to remove moss from your lawn without killing the grass is to properly manage your soil moisture.
Keep reading for a breakdown of why moss grows in lawns, how to stop that growth, and more.
Let’s start with the important information up front. Why and how does moss grow, and what can you do to stem the tide of your mossy invaders?
In short, moss spreads like many plants – if part of it is moved by animal or weather, it will form a new mossy plant. They thrive in wet environments and grow most commonly during rainy seasons. Some mosses can absorb nutrients from water that passes over them, while others take their food directly from the soil.
The two primary requirements for moss to grow are sufficient moisture and accessible nutrients – meaning they don’t normally require sunlight. That rules out the first technique for ridding your yard of unwanted plants, sunlight deprivation. In fact, they thrive during winter, when there’s lots of water, little light, and low temperatures.
For more information, check out this comprehensive “basics” file from Oregon State University – though you’ll need to forgive the site’s aged appearance.
Moss in Lawns
Now that we know how moss functions generally, let’s dive into why it likes to make your lawn home.
First things first, moss tends to pop up in lawns that are already unhealthy. Whether this is due to excess moisture, lack of sunlight, poor air circulation, or poor soil due to pH levels, compacting, or low soil fertility, it’s likely that your lawn has been crying for help for a while at this point. General lack of care, such as irregular (or nonexistent) mowing and fertiliser application also contribute to this.
To determine what’s causing your lawn to die off, it’s best to take a look at the aforementioned factors. Are you over or underwatering your lawn? Are there large trees or shrubberies that block sunlight from reaching it? How well does your lawn drain during high rains? And finally, what is your soil’s pH balance?
To learn about how to test a lawn’s pH balance and generally encourage lawn growth, check out our article here on why your grass seed isn’t growing.
In short, take care of your lawn to prevent moss from growing in the first place.
How to Get Moss Out of Your Lawn
Now that you know how the enemy works, we can deal with it once and for all. Below are the best ways to kill moss in your lawn without killing the lawn itself. We’re going to try and avoid recommending particular products, and rather give you an idea of what to look for in herbicides.
The best time to kill moss is when it’s actively growing – this means waiting for summer to end, as moss goes dormant during warmer months. Try to wait for the rain to become consistent during autumn, and then act quickly. Here are the best ways to kill moss without harming your lawn.
If your lawn is heavily shaded, it may be best to start by looking at what’s causing that shade. If it’s a tree or shrubbery, consider trimming it back. You don’t need to necessarily remove the entire thing, but pruning old or large branches can provide a good boost to your lawn while simultaneously making a less-welcoming environment for moss.
If you wanted, you could even start this before the rains come, allowing you to make it harder for moss to grow in the first place. If you’ve got moss growing somewhere that you can’t properly plant turf, consider replacing turf with mulch so that moss can’t grow.
Check your soil’s pH and drainage. Alongside regularly fertilising your lawn, these are the best ways to encourage lawn growth and discourage the growth of moss. Once you have your dirt at the proper pH level, be wary of using various commercial products on it, and do your research on what affects what.
For example, a common recommendation to kill moss in the U.S. is to introduce limestone to your soil. The issue with this comes from the fact that soil in certain areas could be negatively impacted by this.
The reasoning for this is that limestone is meant to change pH levels in the soil to kill off moss, but it could actually make the situation worse if used on already high pH soil.
As stated above, water drainage is vital to your lawn’s health and to preventing moss. Whether this means that the soil you have is too high in clay or sand, or that you have too much traffic in your lawn, compacting it, it’s good to know.
Poor drainage can be fixed by either adding compost, humus, or mulch to the area. You can also dig trenches near the edges of your lawn, or try to level out depressions in the soil.
To check for compacted or poorly drained soil, try to sink a shovel into the dirt. If it goes roughly 20 cm into the ground, it’s not overly compacted. If it doesn’t go deep, however, use a core aerator to loosen and aerate your soil. These can generally be rented from a garden or home-improvement store if you don’t have one.
If you’re dead-set on using a commercially available herbicide, look for ones with iron as a base. It’s important to note that other herbicides may not even target moss, and many will actively harm your lawn – so read carefully before purchasing. Some also make use of baking soda, though more on that below.
As for iron-based herbicides, they do two things. First, they inhibit the growth of moss and will eventually kill it. Second, iron can actually make your soil more nutrient-rich, encouraging the growth of grass. Be wary, however, as this can make your soil more attractive to different weeds.
How to Get Moss Out of Lawn With Dish Soap
If you’re interested in trying a home remedy before turning to the heavy guns, consider using dish soap or baking soda to kill off the moss.
If you’re opting to use dish soap, mix roughly 3 ounces of dish soap with 2 gallons of water. For baking soda, mix one small container of baking soda with 2 gallons of water. You can then use a garden sprayer or spray bottle to apply this mixture to problem areas – it’ll generally cover roughly 92 square metres. For a larger yard, simply up the mixture amounts.
These will generally kill off moss within 24 hours, turning it brown or orange. Once dead, the moss can be easily removed with a rake. Do be careful, however, with the disposal of the moss. As moss spreads through spores, it’s vital that you ensure it’s disposed of in sealed bags. Otherwise, you risk the moss simply returning.
It’s important to know how healthy your grass is if you want to combat the moss that has taken root in your lawn. Soil pH, density, and drainage capability will highly impact the health of all plants growing in your lawn, as will moisture and shade amounts.
By being proactive, you can prevent moss from coming back – simply follow the tips listed above. And finally, be aware of your lawn. If it’s got moss growing everywhere, that’s a sign that you’re not taking proper care of it. I know, mowing and reseeding a lawn is never fun, but neither is having it taken over by invasive plants.