For most of us moss is not something to get excited about, in fact many a proud gardener finding moss has colonised their beautiful lawn would certainly disagree. However, moss is amazing – consider the following:
- Moss was one of first plants on earth with over 12,000 species found throughout the world.
- Mosses were used as bandages during WW1 to soothe infection as they contain anti-bacterial properties.
- In the past dried moss was used for heating houses and to insulate boots in cold climates.
So what exactly is moss?
Moss is a type of plant usually found in damp or shaded areas growing in clumps or in a carpet-like covering. It does not have true leaves or roots, does not flower (instead reproducing through spores) and in the UK will often appear late autumn/winter as it thrives on damp, shady conditions prevalent at this time of year. Moss can thrive in some of the most inhospitable growing conditions including driveways, walls, roofs and yes – your beloved lawn. Often considered a weed, it is sometimes used to decorate rock gardens, to add greenery to areas where grass will not grow and is particularly popular in Japanese gardens.
Why should moss be removed from lawns?
Although moss has its uses, left untreated in a lawn it can form a thick carpet over and around the grass making it difficult to mow, choking the grass plants, making the lawn look patchy or uneven in terms of colour and generally ruining the quality. Moss will grow in shady spots on the lawn – often underneath trees where the grass is already thinner and next to walls and fences where light and airflow is reduced. Thick, healthy grass is less likely to be affected by moss as there is less space for the moss to take hold. If your garden has poor drainage or acidic soil conditions it will be more susceptible to moss. In addition, lawns already sparse and in poor condition from overuse or close mowing are prone to moss development. Therefore, removing moss and keeping it under control can help improve both the appearance and quality of your lawn.
When should you treat moss in your lawn?
Although there are several schools of thought; most professional lawn care companies recommend carrying out treatments during the winter months when moss is most abundant and the conditions are cool and moist. One treatment carried out in late autumn/early winter (Oct-Dec) and another late winter/early spring (Jan-Mar) is usually sufficient to keep moss at bay. The reason it is useful to carry out two treatments as not all the moss can be caught by the first round of treatments – sometimes a third treatment in early spring is needed for lawns with really heavy moss growth.
How to get rid of moss on lawns
Whilst there are several techniques used to treat and control moss, one of the simplest is to remove it by hand using vigorous raking (or scarification) to remove clumps and thatch. If you want to rake the moss by hand it can be helpful to make use of a moss killer either before or after you do so – raking dead moss means you are less likely to spread the plant around your garden. Ferrous sulphate (iron) moss killers are a popular choice but need to be applied correctly at regular intervals to be effective. If you have a particularly large garden scarification using a ride-on mechanical Scarifier or a ‘dethatcher’ is the best option. After treatment the moss will turn brown or black – you can then fertilise the grass during the spring to help improve the quality.
Tips for moss prevention
Improving the drainage, carrying out regular aeration, reducing the amount of shade and changing the soil PH of your garden can help to prevent moss from returning. In addition, Lime can be added to very acidic soil types to help reduce acidity.
Can I mow after a moss treatment?
Allowing time for the moss killer to penetrate the lawn and be sufficiently absorbed by the plant is important. Avoid mowing your lawn for several days after a treatment has been applied – we suggest waiting three days before mowing to achieve the best results.
What about newly laid turf?
Moss control should not be necessary on new lawns or recently laid turf. Artificial turf, however, can be affected by moss during particularly damp conditions or if surface water is left to pool on the turf.
For existing lawns, we offer effective moss treatments and removal services. The long term benefits of regular moss treatments as part of an annual lawn care programme are that they not only reduce the moss by killing it off, but also improves the long term condition of the grass by hardening and conditioning it.
So there you have it – the humble moss can be controlled, however, while you are cheering your conquest of this amazing plant, just remember who was here first…