Moss in Lawns

There are many rumors and common beliefs about the impacts of soil fertility and the presence of moss in lawns. Many believe that the moss grows as a result of a nutrient “imbalance” or an acidic pH. In reality, soil fertility is a relatively minor factor when it comes to moss.

In a well-maintained lawn, the grass is generally able to outcompete moss. When the grass is struggling to grow, it opens the opportunity for moss and other weeds to establish. However, soil fertility is not usually the cause of a struggling lawn when moss takes over. The physical condition of the soil and the environment tend to promote moss growth. Mosses thrive in shaded, moist areas. Soils that sit wet also tend to be compacted. Grass struggles in these conditions.

If you are dealing with moss in your own lawn or are a service provider with clients with moss issues, there are options, but they are generally not simple or cheap. In the short term, mosses are very easy to kill. There are several commercial products available at home and garden stores to kill moss. There are many homemade solutions that can be found with a quick internet search, though there is no guarantee they work. Moss can even be removed by raking since it has very shallow roots. However, it will just come back if the physical soil conditions and environment are not improved to promote grass growth. The most cost-effective option is to aerate the soil. This will help loosen compacted soil and improve internal drainage. If the area is heavily shaded, consider pruning trees to increase solar exposure to the lawn. The most effective option, but also the most expensive, is to install subsurface drainage to remove excess water from the area.

Once the soil conditions have been improved, now is the time to take a soil sample and address any fertility problems that might be holding your lawn back.

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