Moss in landscaping shrub and flower beds.

Asked May 25, 2017, 1:54 PM EDT

I need to barkdust my landscaping beds where various shrubs and perennials exist. This year moss has grown in all of them. I want to barkdust these areas. My lot is .28 of an acre and there are a lot of beds and barkdust areas. Should I treat them with something before putting down the barkdust? Is there a non-chemical homemade solution I can apply if so? Thank you so much for your help!

Marion County Oregon

1 Response

Thanks for your question about barkdust and moss. First, the moss issue. Moss, like weeds, just grows naturally when the circumstances are right: lots of moisture, cool temperatures, shade and (typically) compacted soil (since it doesn't have a deep root system that needs to penetrate.) Whether it's in a lawn, vegetable or ornamental garden, to keep moss at bay, you need to change the environment. Here's a link to a recent OSU article about moss in lawns--but it's explanation of the 'whys and wherefores' on cause and cure are the same in your yard.

Second, the barkdust. If you mulch your garden with virtually anything, the moss is going to grow on it. The barkdust will slow down the moss, just by keeping the sun from reaching it. You can use some garden products such as potassium soap, ferrous sulfate, iron sulfate and ammonium sulfate on both the mulch and the moss, but applying any chemical always carries some risk of harm to nearby plants. You might want to consider larger types of mulches instead of barkdust, as suggested in this OSU article.

I hope these are helpful to you. Good luck!