Perennial bed moss removal
Any suggestions for the best way to remove moss and prevent future moss growth in an area in my yard where bulbs and perennials will be returning soon? Is lawn lime ok to use? Can I just rake it out and relax? Thanks for your help. MLB
Washington County Oregon
Thank you for your question about moss. The main reasons that moss accumulates in an are is compacted soil and environmental conditions. Moss plants have extremely shallow root systems, so they don't need to penetrate too far down into the soil to get adequate water and nutrients. They also thrive in cool, damp, shaded areas. As long as the environment is one that they "like," spores are going to find and grow in that area. (This is one of the reasons that moss will often take over lawns: the circumstances favor the moss.) You can rake it out, but, absent a rather radical change in 'the territory,' the moss will return.
The moss is actually not harmful to the bulbs. The nutrients and water that keep the bulbs alive are far below the area from which moss draw nutrients and water, so they're not I'm competition. In fact, the moss may be helping keep the soil cooler and holding in moisture that benefits the bulbs.
Adding lime is not a solution. Although it is accurate that moss prefers soil that is more acidic than neutral (or alkaline), raising the pH with lime (calcium carbonate) isn't a long term cure. As this Extension article indicates, bulbs need a pH between 6 and 7, and adding too much lime may 'sweeten' the soil to their detriment. I don't know what other perennials you have, but blueberries, rhododendrons and azaleas need acidic soil, and you would never add lime to their areas.
I hope this is helpful. Please write back if you have other questions. Good luck!