moss in my flower beds

Asked May 24, 2018, 1:09 AM EDT

what is the best way to get rid of moss in my flower beds? My beds are populated with a variety of plants - both shade and sunloving: hostas. exbury azaleas, yarrow, Shasta daisies, decorative grasses, gooseneck loosestrife, etc. But I also have a lot of moss (also in my yard). In my beds how can i get rid of it and REALLY control it in the future? I hesitate spraying anything or applying powders to kill it, due to the other plants. Or would that be ok? do i apply anything to the soil to decrease an inviting growth environment like lime? or bad for the other plants? Is my only option to scrape it out? thanks.

Washington County Oregon

8 Responses

Moss is a given here in the Willamette Valley. Some people decide how to use it to advantage in the landscape whereas those who try get rid of it find that they have a never-ending task.

Moss thrives in a shady site, in moist, compacted soil. If you decide to use a moss-control product, be certain to select the kind which is safe for use around plants. (Avoid products to be used on hardscape, such as concrete or wood.) And understand that you must repeat the treatment on a regular basis.

And to answer your question about using lime against moss: It won't work.

To be very frank, you won’t be able to eradicate moss in your garden but, with persistent effort, you will be able to limit it. Somewhat. Consider using moss in at least a few select places as a ground cover alternative, between stepping stones in a walkway, or as contrast among your perennials.

This article offers some insights into limiting moss in the garden, also inviting moss in: “Moss in Lawns and Gardens” (

This page describes with managing moss in lawns: “If you mind moss, get on board with preventative measures” (

And these pages describe the possible uses of moss in the garden: “Living with Mosses” (

Jean - thank you very much for the info and the links. Unfortunately, as you point out and as I expected, there is no easy answer. Also being in the Washington county area, part of the soil compaction problem is the soil itself -- lots of clay (at least in the Beaverton area). I've always considered that one of these days i'm going to remove many of my plants and get a tiller in and add'l organic material. But then there is the matter of time. I also found it interesting in the article on moss in lawns that research now shows that instead of watering an inch a week at one time it is better to spread that out over 3 or 4 waterings. I have always read the more watering deepens the roots.

You can organic without digging up the entire bed. Use it as a 2-inch deep mulch around the plants. Then, when needed, top it off to maintain the 2 inches. Consider compost or bark dust.

The worms will gradually work the mulch into the soil, slowly improving it. A side benefit of that is you won't see the moss, for at least a while.

Unfortunately, the researchers didn't explain the mechanism why watering 3 or 4 times a week is preferred to once a week. The goal is to always maintain moisture in the root zone. And when you know that roots of an average lawn only go about 8 inches deep, it makes more sense.

Thanks for both pieces of info. Re: the lawn watering, You're right. I was left wondering why the change in recommendation. 8" seems like quite a depth for a 1/4" to get down to. But the 1 inch of watering once per week never worked real well in my lawn. I need to get a soil test.

In checking on the responses to similar question on moss on this site, I came across an article on mulches. Some researcher at WSU found that bark CHIPS as opposed to bark DUST worked better, esp if applied over a weed barrier like cardboard. In fact, the researcher said don't use barkdust without explaining why. I'm not going to change to bark chips due to aesthetic reasons, but any idea why he would have recommended against BD?

I haven't seen that information. Please send me the link.

It's actually an OSU Extension article, not WSU. The comment is about midway thru the article:
Shay suggests selecting wood chips from hardwood tree species like oak or maple and advises using wood chips instead of bark dust.

That info is an OSU news release which quoted several faculty persons. Shay was trying to suppress to suppress weedy regrowth after removing ivy for which you need a rather "heroic" treatment.

The link at the bottom of the page offers more extensive, detailed info. "Mulching Woody Ornamentals with Organic Material" -

great info in that article. very comprehensive. thanks!