Moss in lawns

Asked April 17, 2020, 11:46 AM EDT

How do I get rid of moss in my lawn?

Bay County Michigan

1 Response

Hello!

Moss typically invades lawns when the conditions are not favorable for turf grasses. The best way to control moss is to make the areas of the yard in which it’s growing more grass friendly. When the grass is growing well, moss won’t.

Low soil fertility contributes to an environment in which moss grows better than grass. It’s important to provide adequate nutrition for your lawn, which includes fertilizing several times a season. You can find several recommended schedules for lawn fertilization here: https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/fertilizing-home-lawns-to-protect-water-quality

Compacted soil, which makes it difficult for oxygen to reach the roots and also contributes to poor drainage, will favor moss over turf. Core aeration once or twice a year will help to relieve compaction over time. (During core aeration plugs of soil are actually lifted out of the lawn. This is different than simply poking holes into the ground.) You can find additional information here: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/improving_soil_conditions_for_turf_with_fall_aeration. While this article refers specifically to fall aeration, this process can also be completed in the spring.

Shade is often a significant contributor to the growth of moss in a lawn, whether that shade is caused by buildings or other plants. While some turf grasses are more shade tolerant than others, none of them thrive in shade. Seeding these areas with a mix designed for heavy shade will give better results, but, depending on the situation, it may simply be necessary to plant something other than turf grass. (For example, trees can be thinned to allow more light to pass thru to the turf, but this would have to be repeated each year as they grow. A shed that is shading the turf could be removed, but then you lose the storage space that the shed was providing.) For reference: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/will_grass_grow_in_my_shady_lawn https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/shady_lawn_alternatives

To get rid of moss, the first step is to remove it. Herbicides are available to help with this, but the moss can also simply be raked out of an area. (Killing the moss with chemicals will not provide long term solution if the environment isn’t changed.) Next, identify the factors that are allowing the moss to do better than grass. If you can change enough of these (fertilize, aerate), re-seed the areas with a shade tolerant turf mix. Once the new grass is established, keep it mowed to a height of at least 3” to help keep the plants healthy. https://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/files/Mow_highRS.pdf

You can find a lot of information on lawn care at this site: https://www.canr.msu.edu/home_gardening/lawns/ . Scroll down past the banner to see lists links to short articles on different aspects of lawn care.


Regards,