The soggy month of April means more moss in your lawn. In the Pacific Northwest, moss is a fact of life. If you’ve lived here for any amount of time, you’re familiar with moss in your landscape and more specifically, in your lawn. You may know the basic procedures for getting rid of moss and yet no matter how hard you work, it keeps coming back. Removing and keeping moss from a lawn requires some time and effort. Here are some tips and information to help you reduce how much moss comes back every year. (Since this is the PNW you may never get rid of all the moss!)
Moss Problems And Solutions
Problem: Moss does not have roots. This means it can establish quickly on hard surfaces, like compacted soils and walkways.
Solution: Aerate lawns on a regular basis. This helps reduce compaction as well as improving water retention. Aeration will also improve the performance of any fertilizer you may be using.
Problem: Moss thrives on moisture. This seems pretty obvious, but we have lots of rain in the PNW. Low spots in your lawn, rainfall levels and the way you water your lawn can have a great impact on how much moss you’ll have.
Solution: If you have low spots in your lawn, regrade to eliminate these low areas. If you want to fill in the low spots, use good quality topsoil (not potting soil or straight compost). In our area, lawns need ¾’ to 1” of water a week. This promotes deep strong roots for your turf. Watering too frequently promotes a shallow, weaker root system. This will make grass a weaker competitor.
Problem: Moss loves shade. We have shade and moisture in abundance here in the beautiful PNW!
Solution: A strategic pruning is generally all you really need to do. Filtered sunlight is far better than deep shade. And most trees can use a strategic pruning now and then.
Problem: Moss loves acidic soil pH. Our soils are naturally acidic and that’s great news for moss.
Solution: You’ve most certainly been told to use lime to help combat the moss in your lawn. If you glean one tidbit from this posting, let it be this…LIME DOES NOT KILL MOSS! To use lime as an effective weapon against moss, you’ll need to do two basic things: First, get a soil test done. It will tell you the pH level of your soil. You want your lawn pH to be in the range of 6.0 to 6.8. And secondly, make lime a part of a regular fertilization program. Lime does not change your pH overnight and it doesn’t last forever. It needs to be applied at least annually and twice a year, in many cases, is better.
Problem: Poor lawn care practices. Moss is an opportunistic competitor. It is not a strong plant. One of the best defenses is a strong lawn.
Solution: See one of the Garden Center Folks at any of the WFC stores for some tips on best practices for a healthy lawn that can keep moss at bay. We have many products, tools and suggestions that can make your “War on Moss” easier to win.
For lawn moss control you have two choices: Keep killing it year after year. Or, you can learn about the things you need to do on regular basis in your day-to-day gardening efforts that will make it less likely that moss will control your life. And don’t forget…when you kill moss, remove it so your grass can reclaim its space.
Hope you are having a great 2015 gardening season. Drop me a line with any questions. And don’t forget to send me your success stories. We can all learn to be better gardeners when we share information!