Lawn moss is an indicator of major soil issues with your grass. Killing a moss lawn with any product will only band-aid the question of “how do I get rid of moss in lawn”. Why the mossy growth exists, is what needs to be resolved.
There are products that will help stop or eliminate moss lawn temporarily but if the basic fundamentals of healthy lawn care are not followed the problems of a moss lawn will certainly come back. A moss lawn is usually equivalent to neglected lawn care.
Lawn moss doesn’t care if your lawn is fertilized organically or chemically
Like most issues with a healthy lawn if the situation is right for a problem and not corrected the problem will dominate and your nice green grass will deteriorate.
Sometimes lawn moss can actually be appealing given the right situation. If you can’t change the environmental factors to a achieve a beautiful lawn then maybe you should accentuate the area of your yard with what will thrive.
There are many varieties of moss that can be beautiful given the right growing conditions. Let’s get into environmental situations that lawn (Bryophyta) moss love.
“What’s wrong with this lawn?”
Moss is the result of poor or no turf management. Low fertility, compaction, acidic soil, excessive shade and poor drainage all contribute to moss
Jump to getting rid of lawn moss here
Factors contributing to lawn moss
Every living thing on earth needs food in one form or another. Lawns are no different. On our lawn fertilizer page we go into specifics as to what nutrients are critical.
If you’ve visited other pages on Lawnrage.com then you know by now we are an organic lawn website and do not condone using synthetic fertilizers to solve any lawn problems. The first step taken when trying to achieve beautiful grass is to have a soil test done.
Whether your practices are organic or chemical a soil test has to be a prerequisite to just about everything you do regarding your lawn. How else would you know what your grass and soil is lacking in regard to nutrients? It will also give you your soil pH which we talk about below.
Once you get your soil test results back, then go to our organic fertilizer page so you can make the necessary adjustments.
- Have a soil test done This page tells you the steps in preparing you soil test.
- Understand your results This page explains each result so you will know what parts of your soil needs to be remedied.
- Feeding your soil Supply the necessary nutrients your lawn so desperately needs.
Soil compaction is the #1 problem with most lawns. If the lawn area is compacted water, fertilizer, air will not be able to reach your target point – the roots.
Organic lawns rarely have to be aerated. Chemical fertilizers ruin soil structure. They also disrupt soil biology and earthworms which are major contributors healthy aerobic soil.
The results of your soil test come into play here. High magnesium levels will contribute to soil compaction. Go to our percent base saturation page to understand the 7 – 1 calcium to magnesium ratio.
Simply renting a mechanical aerator is a quick fix but necessary if soil is compacted. If you continue to dump synthetic fertilizers and pesticides on your grass the problem of compaction and lawn moss will return!
Visit our aerating lawns page to have a thorough understanding of soil compaction.
I know I’m harping on the importance of having a soil test done but we here at lawnrage.com live by the motto of: Healthy Soil = Healthy Lawn
Most turf grass like a soil slightly acidic – Slightly! Around 6.8 on the pH scale is the optimum for many grass types. Your soil test results will give you your soils pH. You will use calcitic limestone or dolomite to remedy a pH lower than 6.8 Which one you use is determined by your calcium to magnesium ratio.
Most grass types struggle with less than 4 hours of sunlight. Yes, there are some grass varieties that do better than others but the bottom line is, if the lawn is struggling to grow in a certain location, something else will gladly come in and take over the bare spot on the soil – and in this case that would be lawn moss.
Lawn moss is more prevalent in shady areas than in sunny areas. Simply put: Lawn moss likes shade – Grass doesn’t
Removing lawn moss can be a relatively easy procedure or it can be the toughest thing you’ll ever do in your yard. If it is a small amount located in shady area under a tree or a similar area, it can be removed with an iron rake or hoe.
Then proceed to correct the previous steps to prevent future growth.
that’s where it gets tricky
Depending what the percentage of the lawn moss is compared to actual lawn, you may want to remove the existing turf and start a new lawn. Whether it’s a moss lawn or weed problems, if grass is only 25 – 40 percent of the lawn then it’s probably easier and cheaper to start over. There, of course are always exceptions to most rules in nature.
Today we’re up for the challenge to keep the existing lawn while getting rid of lawn moss. This doesn’t all have to be done in a day so take your time and do the job right and safely. Best done in early September in cooler climates and spring in warmer zones. I can’t go in-depth on each subject but follow the links to the pages that do explain in detail.
short video about lawn moss
Here we go:
Thoroughly thatch the lawn. Renting a de-thatching machine should only cost you around $25 for half a day.
- Adjust the height so it is a bit lower than you have it to remove thatch.
- Do this when the lawn is dry.
- Take a couple of test runs and adjust the machine accordingly.
- You’re going to be tearing up a good deal of material off you lawn including – lawn, thatch, moss, dirt etc.
- Mark the sprinkler heads if you have irrigation. Don’t thatch the heads or you may damage them.
- Don’t go too deep as to remove too much turf.
- You’ll be going over the area a second time and a third in tougher spots.
If you don’t need to go over your entire lawn area, don’t. Only use the machine were moss is present. If your thatch is thicker than it should be then adjust the height of the machine before proceeding. Once you’re done going over the area once do it again only this time perpendicular to your first direction.
I’ll bet your lawn is a mess.
Now we have to remove all that mess the machine tore up. You can rake it or if you want to spend a few extra dollars and rent a backpack blower it will save you time, effort and at the same time the clean up will certainly be more thorough.
How’s it looking?
Is the majority of the lawn moss removed?
If there are problem spots then go over a third time with the de-thatching machine.
Check out our lawn thatch page to learn more!
Now to alleviate the compaction issues we need to aerate the lawn.
Do the entire lawn area, the grass will benefit from it. Then repeat, once again perpendicular to your first direction.
We can now apply lime or dolomite at the recommended rates of our soil test results. Usually that would be 50 pounds per 1000 square feet. Water in the application thoroughly. Then again. Next morning, water heavily again.
For best results you can now spray some compost tea with mycorrhizal spores. Try to get it into the aerated holes. This will benefit the existing grass.
Follow up with a light layer of compost. No more than 1/2 inch thick. This will add nutrients and biology to the soil.
Broadcast a layer of quality seed on top followed by another spraying of compost tea with mycorrhizal. The seed will germinate quicker and the grass stands will be healthier in general.
With the back of rake, lightly go over the entire seeded area. This will bury the seed 1/4 inch needed for germination.
Roll the area with a half filled with water lawn roller. This will insure soil to seed contact.
Water and keep moist until the seedlings need to be mowed for the third time, then go back to a normal watering schedule.
You will need to continue to apply either lime or dolomite both in the spring and fall until your soil test results come back with the desired pH. Lime moves through the soil very slowly so it does take time. More frequent light applications work better than infrequent heavy doses.
Get Rid of Moss in Lawn and
Keep It From Spreading
I know this process sounds like a lot of work. There are plenty of products available effective for killing lawn moss but the dead moss still has to be removed and the problems that caused the issues have to be remedied.
If you don’t fill the void left by removing the moss with healthy grass, weeds or more lawn moss will come in and dominate your lawn again. So use the products if you choose but for a successful project you’ll need to follow what we just discussed.
If you follow the steps and do it right the first time it will save you more work and money renovating your lawn again in the near future.
Plus, you’ll be psyched how nice your beautiful lawn is looking.