Moss in Lawns

Moss can be unpleasant in a lawn.  However, moss is not the problem, but usually a symptom of other problems.  Moss loves shade, moisture, areas protected by wind, and poorly drained or compacted soil. Moss does not kill grass, but it does creep into areas where grass has thinned out because of poor growing conditions.  The moss is simply filling a void.

The best long term solution to controlling moss is to correct the shade, moisture, and compaction problems, and improving air to flow through the area.  In many circumstances like along the north side of a building it is difficult to impossible to improve the conditions.  Control what you can by:

Trimming trees– This will allow more sunlight to get to the lawn.  Grass needs 3-4 hours of direct sunlight or 6-8 hours of filtered sunlight in order to grow. Trimming trees allows more sunlight in and will allow more varieties of grass to grow. Trimming trees also promotes air movement and helps the grass to dry out.

Tree Removal-  This is a drastic step, but can make a big impact in growing grass and discouraging moss.

Water Management–  To reduce extra water, try “capping” sprinkler heads, changing nozzles, or reducing sprinkler times for the zones hitting the shady areas.  Be aware of your lawn’s drainage pattern and areas that may be accumulating water.

Mowing Height–  Mowing the grass between 3 and 3.5 inches tall is healthiest your the lawn.  This allows deep rooting of the grass and the maximum surface area to absorb sunlight.

Aeration-  This removes cores of soil and allows air movement, helps drainage, and relieves soil compaction.

Home Solutions to Control Moss–  Two common household products can be used to help control moss.

Ultra Dawn or Ivory liquid dish soap-   Mix 2 to 4 ounces of dish soap with 1 gallon of water.  Spray the mixture with a spray bottle or use a watering can.  Apply when the grass is moist.

Baking Soda-  A few applications of baking soda will control moss.  Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of baking soda per quart of water and spray on a warm, sunny day.  In most cases, one or two applications will provide complete control.  Baking Soda also works well to control moss on wood decks and brick patios.

Scott’s makes a product called MossEx that kills moss.  However, all of these methods to kill moss change the color of the moss, but it will remain there as white, yellow, or orange.  It will not break down and disappear like weeds do.  Killing moss is only a temporary solution. If you want to remove moss permanently, you must correct the shady and wet conditions that are causing the moss.