moss in the garden
please help: I've have moss in my garden the last two years. its being just a little bit and I have picked it out with my hands. But this year its grown in to a carpet around my blueberrys. what can I do to get read of it. without using chemicals. DS
Multnomah County Oregon
To control moss in your garden optimize the environment for your plants and the minimize the environment for moss. Blueberries like a sunny location with acidic (pH 4.5-5.5) light loamy soils high in organic matter and well drained. Mosses like a shady location with acidic, compacted soil with low fertility. The first step is to evaluate the site of your blueberry garden for these conditions.
It's very important to establish a good watering plan. Blueberries need consistent water especially during fruit production. Weather can influence water needs, so checking the soil often is a good idea.. Water deeply less often is one of our mantras. Water needs to get into deeper layers of the soil and it takes time for water to move into the deeper areas. Allow the soil surface to dry somewhat so air can follow the water into the soil, oxygenating the roots which helps them function much better. Mosses like water-logged soil.
Blueberries have a very shallow root system, so digging to incorporate organic matter can be disruptive to roots. You can aerate the area now by poking holes 6 inches into the ground (like aerating a lawn). This will also improve drainage. Mulching around the plants with bark, sawdust or pine needles to about 3 inches, keeping the trunk of the plant free, will add organic matter over time ,help maintain acidic conditions (never add lime to blueberry soils), improve soil aeration and drainage. It will also keep the roots cool, conserve soil moisture and discourage weeds and moss. Scrape off the moss off the soil first.
If you find you need chemicals soaking moss in an iron sulfate solution will kill the moss. Liquids are more effective than granules, especially in a limited area (vs a lawn). Your local nursery will have appropriate products. Be sure and follow directions carefully.
If you find the plants are not in a good location and you want to move them, the best time to do this is in the fall as the plants are entering dormancy. It gives the roots to reestablish themselves over the winter. Plant them in more sun, and perhaps on a raised area to improve drainage. It's too late to fertilize them this year, that would only lead to growth vulnerable to winters condition. Next year start a fertilization program in the spring.
This article, Growing Blueberries in your Home Garden has excellent information on many aspects of growing blueberries, soil conditions, pruning, fertilizing schedule, etc. This article, Got Moss in your Lawn? Try these Tips gives good tips on moss control in lawns which is applicable to garden areas, but lawns like a neutral pH, so they recommend using lime. Blueberries like acidic soil, so lime is not recommended.