Moss: The Fuzzy Green Plant Taking Over Your Lawn
For homeowners in the Pacific Northwest, moss is a common issue. While some consider moss to have a certain esthetic appeal, even using it in planters and decor, it is not a great sign if it’s growing in your lawn. If you have moss growth, you likely have poor lawn conditions and will struggle to get any grass to grow if the issue is not dealt with. Unfortunately, the wet and mild winters that Washinton experiences create the perfect environment for fostering moss growth. With Spring being the time of year when moss growth reaches its peak, now is the time for homeowners to take action. The methods for getting rid of moss are relatively easy for any homeowner to handle themselves. However, if you are ever unsure, you can always contact your local lawn care experts for help.
What is Moss and Why Is It in My Lawn?
Moss is not like most other plants or weeds. It is made up of a root-like structure called rhizoids that spread through spores. Because it doesn’t have an actual root system, it doesn’t need soil to grow and can easily spread and grow in unusual places. It requires very little light to grow and thrives in damp climates, which is the opposite of what grass needs to thrive. For this reason, moss tends to thrive where grass doesn’t, which is why it is so common for homeowners to find it in their lawns when soil conditions are not optimal for grass growth.
Causes of Moss Growth in Lawns
If moss is taking over your lawn, it is likely because your lawn was already unhealthy in the first place. While moss itself does not kill your lawn, it is a sign that something is wrong. If you are struggling with moss, the below reasons might be the culprit:
- Compacted soil: When soil is compacted, it hinders grass growth by restricting the movement of oxygen, water, and nutrients through the ground.
- Too much shade: If your lawn isn’t receiving enough sunlight, it will affect grass growth, allowing room for moss to move in. Since moss doesn’t need sunlight, it will thrive where grass does not.
- Acidic soil: Soil that is too acidic, meaning it has a low pH level, is not suitable for grass growth. As moss doesn’t have roots that take hold in the soil, however, it will do just fine in these conditions.
- Infertile soil: If your lawn has low soil fertility, it will not provide the grass with the proper nutrients it needs to grow. Sparse lawns then give moss the advantage to move in and take over.
- Too much or too little water: When a lawn gets too much water, it may not drain properly and can create poor conditions for grassroots to thrive. On the flip side, too little water will also hinder grass growth. In either of these cases, mosses will thrive and once again have the advantage.
Moss Control Methods and Treatments
There are a few different ways to rid your lawn of moss. If you aren’t opposed to using chemicals, some treatments will effectively kill off the moss in your lawn. Though it could still grow back if the underlying soil conditions are not fixed as well. The other methods are to go directly to the source of the problem and follow a few standard lawn care practices to create healthy conditions for a full, lush lawn to grow. By going directly to the source of the problem, you may more effectively prevent moss from growing in the future, instead of chemically treating it every time it grows back.
Chemical Treatments for Moss Control
If you are going to use chemical treatments to get rid of the moss, iron-based products tend to be the most effective. These treatments work by drying the moss out, which then makes it easier to remove. Many of the products on the market also double as fertilizer which will help promote grass growth. So you are essentially killing two birds with one stone – drying out the moss, but feeding the grass. Mosses that are treated with iron-based products will typically turn black within a few short hours. Once this happens, you can rake the dead moss easily from the lawn.
Other Lawn Care Practices to Prevent and Control Moss
Chemical treatments are fast and efficient for on the spot treatment. However, if your lawn has unhealthy soil conditions in the first place, the moss will just grow back. To promote grass growth and prevent moss growth in the future, you can follow the methods below. Once you have taken these steps, then you can rake the existing moss from your lawn.
Dethatch the Lawn
Heavy thatch in a lawn will hinder the growth of grass. By dethatching and mowing your lawn regularly, it will prevent moisture from building up, which will stop moss from growing and help grass thrive.
Provide Aeration to Help Drainage and Compaction
Soil that is tightly compacted and oversaturated restricts grassroots from growing effectively. Aerate your lawn regularly to ensure proper drainage of water and to help oxygen and other nutrients better flow through the soil.
Lime the Soil to Restore pH Balance
Liming your lawn will help restore the soil to the proper pH level needed for grass to survive. Once the grass can thrive and grow, it will keep moss from having the advantage and taking over.
Ensure the Lawn Gets Enough Sunlight
If your lawn does not get enough sunlight, it can make it hard for grass to grow and will create the ideal conditions for moss to thrive. Prune back your trees and shrubs to allow sunlight to get through to your lawn.
Water the Lawn If It Is Too Dry
Too much water is typically solved by aerating the lawn to allow for proper drainage. However, if your lawn is getting too little water, you may need to start watering it more often.
Urban Eden Landscaping
At Urban Eden Landscaping, we understand that the often volatile Northwest climate can make it challenging to grow and maintain a healthy lawn. Our professional landscapers are trained to handle a variety of lawn care issues that are common in the Vancouver, WA area. Not only can we help you achieve that lush, full lawn of your dreams, but we can help you maintain it too! Call Urban Eden Landscaping today for a free estimate and consultation!