moss in flower bed

Asked May 28, 2018, 3:29 PM EDT

I have a horrible problem with moss in my flower bed. It is a north facing bed that is at the house foundation, cornered by my cement porch. What can I use to eliminate it? I have "Epsoma" brand garden lime. Is this safe? I have hostas, an azalea, any ivy groundcover and other assorted plants.

Otsego County Michigan

1 Response

Hello,

Moss grows because conditions it needs are present. Compacted, poorly draining, under-fertile soil that never or rarely dries out are these conditions.

In gardens, there are no chemicals for control of moss that won’t harm other plants. Your best option in flower, vegetable, and landscape beds is to scrape the moss off the soil surface using a hoe. Without real roots, it’s only growing on the surface and is easy to remove. Moss is not harmful to your lawn or garden, but it does indicate that there may be a drainage or soil compaction problem.

First I would have a soil test. It will tell you the soil type, the pH and the organic matter percentage. You don’t want to add lime to a soil that is already high in pH, above 7.5

MSU soil test self-mailer is $25, includes the postage to mail the sample to the lab. Some MSU Extension office sell the kits. Call yours to see if they have them-

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/county/info/otsego

Or purchase one here- www.msusoiltest.com

Once you know what your soil needs based on the test results, you can proceed. Scrap off as much moss as you can. Aerate the bed with a garden fork working around you perennials. Work in any organic amendments, like compost, avoid stepping on and compressing the soil. If lime was indicated as needed, work that in too. Especially your azaleas like acidic soil and lime can make the pH too high for them. Mulch any open areas with 2 inches deep mulch of wood chips, shredded bark or pine straw. Don’t pile mulch against plant stems. A completely covered soil surface, by plants and mulch, will reduce growth of weeds and moss. Extend any downspouts so they don’t empty into the bed. Redirect your lawn sprinklers if they hit this bed. If you water, do so early morning so beds have the best chance to dry..

If your soil is sticky clay, you may need a complete bed renovation in order to improve drainage by incorporating organic matter deep down in the soil. Here are details on renovation-

https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/1994/5-18-1994/bedren.html

I hope this is helpful. Moss is not detrimental to plants, and some gardeners actual have moss gardens on purpose! Thanks for using our service.