How To Prevent Moss From Returning To Your Lawn
After youve spent the time and effort to kill moss and rake it off your lawn, the last thing you want is for it to come back to your grass.
Here are some tips you can use to prevent moss from growing on your lawn.
Remove Thatch And Aerate The Lawn
With surface moss removed, your efforts can now turn toward preventing future moss growth. The first step here is to evaluate the role that thatch buildup might be playing. Some homeowners intent on getting rid of moss really need to be focusing on getting rid of thatch, which can prevent water from draining properly through the soil.
The process of removing thatch is called “dethatching.” Hard manual raking with a sharp-toothed bow rake or a special dethatching rake will do the job, but many people prefer to hire a professional service or rent a power dethatcher to do this labor-intensive job.
Following up dethatching with annual aeration will help reduce soil compaction and improve drainage and air circulation, which makes the soil more conducive to grass and less friendly to moss. When to aerate depends in part on the type of lawn grass you grow. Aerate cool-season grasses in early fall and warm-season grasses in mid-spring to early summer.
Indeed, the best defense against moss is a good offense. Healthy grass will crowd out weeds. Instead of asking, “How do I get rid of moss?” the better question is “How can I make my lawn healthier?”
Moss In Yard Removal Basics
Lowe’s expands on the notion that moss doesnt actually kill your grass, explaining that its the conditions that are favorable to the growth of moss that kill the lawn. As such, simply removing the moss from your lawn via raking or shoveling down to the dirt wont automatically fix your lawn problems. Similarly, you cannot just plant grass over moss and expect it to take.
Instead, you need to treat the conditions that are causing the moss to grow in the first place. One of these can be an overly shady area. To fix this problem, you can consider cutting down trees or shrubs that cast large shadows over your lawn. You can also mow your lawn to a height that is about 1/2 to 1 inch taller in shady spots, which may help grass to grow.
However, if you like your vegetation as it is, you could consider using a shade-loving grass seed. BioAdvanced recommends either ryegrass or fine and tall fescues for areas that will get at least four hours of sunshine each day. If it is less than this, even these shade-tolerant varieties of grass might not grow. Most grasses need at least six hours of sunlight to thrive.
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How Can Moss Be Removed From Turf
WHAT IS MOSS
There are thousands of different mosses, so for the purpose of this article I will talk purely of the main types which inhabit, and cause problems, in turf.
First we have to understand the difference between mosses and grasses.
Mosses are flowerless plants that are generally only one cell thick, and do not contain the vascular water transport system that most other plants contain. They reproduce by forming a capsule on the end of stalks that then burst, sending millions of seed spores into the air.
This is the main reason why moss is so successful, and why trying to remove moss from grass without first killing it, is only helping the plants to spread more rapidly.
The preferred habitat of moss
Moss loves damp, shaded areas, but it does require some sunlight to perform photosynthesis. This allows it to survive and thrive in any situation in a moist climate. Moss is very adept at absorbing moisture and can hold enormous quantities of water. This is most obvious in peat bogs, the ultimate moss habitat, but causes big problems when present in a managed grass sward.
How do we control moss in turf
A dry surface is an essential in controlling moss in turf. As explained above, moss loves wet conditions, and the more moss there is present, the more water is retained. This makes it more likely that the moss will become the dominant plant in the turf.
Why Is It Essential To Get Rid Of Moss
While many homeowners love the appearance of moss, having these spiny patches denotes an underlying problem that should be dealt with accordingly. Moss is not invasive and wont harm your lawn. Some gardeners even use mossy patches as ground cover and as unique touches in their garden.
However, if your lawn requires extra love and care, address these to maintain a healthy lawn. In other words, view moss more like a warning sign than a weed. Its appearance means something is not right in your yard and needs taking care of quickly.
Youre on your way to improving your lawn and kicking moss to the curb for good. Now that you know the leading causes behind moss and how to improve the state of your green grass, you are capable of getting rid of moss in grass to prevent future issues from occurring in the future.
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What To Do After Removing Moss From Your Lawn
Even if your lawn didnt have much moss, raking it out will still make your lawn look a bit rough.
If you have a big infestation and youve also scarified, itll look dreadful.
Either way, you want your lawn to recover as quickly as possible. In order for this to happen, you need to do four things
Aerating The Soil To Prevent Moss Growth
When soil is too compacted, it doesnt get the water, air, and nutrients that it needs to be healthy. You can use an aerator to loosen soil compaction so that the lawn thrives and drive the moss out. You should aerate the grass when it is in its peak growing season and repeat every few years.
- Aeration tool
There are a few gardening tools that you can use to aerate your lawn, and its all about preference. You can use a standard garden aerator, lawn aerating shoes, or a drum spike aerator. Whichever tool you choose, the process is the same.
Begin by watering your lawn so that it gets an inch of water to soften the soil. If you have a lightly compacted lawn, then you can go over the yard once with your aerator.
For more compacted soils, youll need to go over your yard twice using a perpendicular direction for the second pass. Water the lawn again after aerating.
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Removing Moss From Your Lawn
Moss is a living, growing plant. It has very shallow roots, so you can easily dislodge it. But taking up chunks still leaves pieces from which more can develop. A variety of commercially available herbicides can target moss specifically and kill it without damaging your surrounding lawn.
These products are generally relatively safe. Many rely on high concentrations of iron compounds to kill moss, which is toxic to the moss but actually benefits the grass in your lawn. Dont use a generic herbicide for weeds. These wont be as effective and can damage your grass.
There are some all-natural methods for accomplishing the same goal for homeowners who arent partial to chemical herbicides. In theory, both regular dish soap and baking soda will kill moss. Just dilute them with water and apply them to the area.
You wont need much, so use a spray bottle to spritz the area. Neither the soap nor the baking soda will hurt your grass. The results arent always as great as with the chemical herbicide, but its certainly a viable option for the environmentally conscious.
Within a day of application, the moss should start dying. Youll notice the plant becoming orange and brown. To remove the dead moss, you can use a household rake.
Can I Put Grass Seed Down Over Moss
Similarly, you cannot just plant grass over moss and expect it to take. Instead, you need to treat the conditions that are causing the moss to grow in the first place. One of these can be an overly shady area. To fix this problem, you can consider cutting down trees or shrubs that cast large shadows over your lawn.
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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. Dont 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 its 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 dont 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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Poor Lawn Care Practices
Poor lawn care practice is all about you, or the owner/keeper of the lawn. If you or your gardener do any of the following, youre contributing to the problem
- Not cutting the grass regularly
- Scalping the lawn or cutting the grass too short
- Not aerating heavily used or compacted areas of the lawn
- Poor use of lawn fertilisers
- Not scarifying to remove excess thatch
- Letting fallen leaves sit and rot on the grass through autumn and winter
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How To Prevent Moss From Invading Your Lawn Again
Once you have gone through this lawn moss removal procedure and ridden your lawn of the spongy gree stuff, the last thing you want is for it to come and take over again.
At the beginning of this article, I went through the three main causes of moss infestation.
Now lets look at them more closely and consider what you can do differently to promote good grass growth and make it difficult for moss to get a foothold.
If You Have A Powered Lawn Rake That Doubles As A Scarifier
Itll probably be a good idea to scarify your lawn while youre at it.
If your lawn has been buried under moss youll probably find that theres a buildup of thatch too.
It makes sense to scarify now, while the lawn is looking at its worst. Plus, scarifying will open up the soil making a good bed for new grass seed and fertiliser, as well as allow in oxygen, nutrients and water.
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How To Remove Moss From Your Lawn In 4 Easy Steps
Moss can be a very common problem in a lawn, especially after very damp winters where near constant rain has created the perfect environment for moss to thrive. This resilient little plant grows and spreads quickly and in the right conditions it can spread across the whole lawn, forming a thick, spongy mat, which as well as being unsightly can make the job of mowing incredibly difficult.
Getting Rid Of Moss In Your Lawn With Chemicals
The two most common ingredients in moss-killing chemicals are iron sulfate and glyphosate. Iron sulfate will start damaging moss in a matter of hours and effectively kill it within two days. This ingredient is commonly found in fertilizers and wont harm your lawns grass.
Glyphosate, on the other hand, is non-selective and will kill both the moss and grass it comes into contact with.
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Managing Moss In Lawns In Western Oregon
Figure 1. A lawn in western Oregon invaded by moss growth
Table 1. Conditions and practices that prevent and encourage moss encroachment
Figure 2. Moss can thrive in the dark brown zone of thatch
Figure 3. Remove moss using a mechanical dethatcher
Figure 4. Apply fertilizer to encourage turfgrass growth after mechanical dethatching or pesticide application or both to remove moss.
The mild, wet winters in western Oregon encourage the growth of lawn mosses. Understanding the factors that contribute to this growth can provide tips for reducing problems.
Moss is different from the typical grassy or broadleaf weeds found in lawns. Mosses do not have a true root or stem system, and spread either by spores or plant fragments, which is unlike vascular plants that spread via seeds, rhizomes, or stolons.
There are several species of moss, with Rhytidiaedelpus sp. and Brachythecium albicans found most frequently in Oregon lawns . While moss can thrive in a wide variety of environmental conditions and soil types, it is most common in lawns that are mowed too short, infertile, wet, shady, or some combination of these factors.
The three steps to managing moss in lawns are outlined below.
Getting Rid Of Moss In Yard By Dethatching
Moss thrives in moist conditions. Thatch is the material such as grass stems, shoots, and roots that form in a layer between the grass blades and soil.
Thatch that has grown too thick can not only unhealthy for your lawn but provide the right opportunity for moss to grow. Dethatching is an excellent method for getting rid of moss in yard, and you should do it in the early spring.
Begin by mowing the lawn with a mower to half its average height. Use a dethatching rake to rake the grass as you usually would. While hand raking, you should begin to notice the thatch separate from the soil.
You may also see that the rake is pulling up clumps of moss. Gather up all of the grass thatch and moss and dispose of it. Once the dethatching is complete, you will notice that your lawn looks a bit ragged. This appearance is normal.
Grow grass in any of the bare spots by filling them in with grass seed or grass patching products. Make sure to get the correct seeds, whether it be full sun or shade-tolerant grass seeds. Fertilize the lawn after, not before, dethatching the yard.
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Removing Moss By Hand
In order to remove moss from your lawn by hand, youll need different tools depending on your lawn size. For smaller lawns, you can use a rake to scratch the surface of the lawn where moss has begun to grow. Moss tends to have a shallow root system, so if you use a metal rake vigorously across the surface, you can generally loosen the moss up enough to easily pluck it by hand. If you have a larger lawn, then getting a dethatching blade for your lawnmower is an excellent option. Be careful not to set the blade too low, as youll then end up removing your grass along with the moss.
When To Remove Lawn Moss
Moss can creep in and take over during the winter months and weed growth starts to increase in spring. This makes it the ideal time to apply a granular treatment to get the problem under control, as they compete for the same space as your lawn.
During autumn, your lawn is still recovering from the wear and tear of the summer months but its health needs to be maintained to help survive the cold frosts of winter. Autumn moss control and scarification helps reduce competition and gives the grass more room to grow. It also helps to minimise moss growth over winter, making it less of a problem in spring.
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How To Conquer Moss
Products like Lilly Miller Moss Out and Scotts Turf Builder with Moss Control work quickly to kill moss in lawns. The products are easy to apply in spring or fall. Lilly Miller Moss Out is a lawn fertilizer with liquid iron.
Apply Scotts Turf Builder with Moss Control wherever moss is actively growing. It feeds your lawn while killing moss, thickening grass to prevent any future moss problems.
Once you conquer moss in your lawn, take steps to prevent its return. Its difficult to control the amount of shade in a lawn, but you can control moisture and soil acidity. Look in your lawn for low areas and fill in with soil and plant new grass seed. Next, apply lime to your lawn to reduce acidity and make it harder for moss to grow.
Keep up a regular fertilizing schedule for a healthy lawn. A well-fed lawn has a strong root system to fight stressful conditions like heat, cold, drought, mowing and foot traffic. Learn more about moss controlling products and moss controlling lawn fertilizers.