Raked pile of moss on lawn with rake tool

How to get rid of MOSS in your lawn

One of the most common problems in UK lawns is the presence of moss. Spongy underfoot and light green in appearance it ruins any ambition of the perfect lawn. But before we look at how to get rid of moss, it's worth taking a second to understand why the moss is there, as this will give you a really good indication of the health and general condition of your soil. Even if you successfully rid your garden of the Moss, if you don't address the fundamentals of soil health the Moss will return time and time again.

Moss will thrive in the following conditions:

  • Heavily compacted soil
  • Shaded and sparse areas over the lawn
  • Boggy or waterlogged areas of the lawn

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that these conditions are also extremely hard for grass to survive let alone thrive. So how do we address the issue of poor soil conditions?

Heavily compacted soil

manual hollow tine aerator

If your lawn is heavily compacted due to foot traffic, heavy frosts, or heavy rainfall, grass will find it very difficult to establish a deep root system. This will mean your grass will struggle to grow due to difficulty accessing nutrients and water. If the grass struggles to grow, bare patches will develop, these bare patches provide the perfect area for most to take hold.

The simple solution for heavily compacted soils is regular aeration. Aeration isn't a difficult task and doesn't have to be done with heavy hollow tine aerators from the local hire shop. If your lawn is of a small to medium size you can use a manual hollow tine aerator such as these, or even a garden fork. Inserting the fork to a

depth of at least 60mm and lifting slightly will allow air, water and nutrients to access the root zone and nourish the roots. A lighter soil environment will also allow the roots to establish and become denser and deeper.

Shaded areas of the lawn

If you have shaded areas of your lawn caused by either fence panels, permanent garden furniture, or even shade cast by your house, then you will know that despite your best efforts you regularly struggle to get grass to thrive. Grass needs good quality light, and plenty of it, to photosynthesise and produce the energy it requires to grow. Moss on the other hand does not need light and gets almost all of its nutrients from the air. If you have an area of severe shade, it might be best to replace that area with a patio, paths or flower beds where you can plant flowers that enjoy the shade. Also if you can't beat them join them- this article by Moss Acres shows what you can do if you really want a moss garden!  

If however, your shaded areas are like mine whereby the shade is worse in the winter when the sun is lower, but in the summer when the sun is higher they receive ample sunlight, then carefully select your grass seed for a shade-tolerant seed may be the answer. If you can establish thick grass, this will prevent moss from setting in.

Boggy or waterlogged areas of the lawn

Closely linked to aeration, if you have constantly boggy areas of your lawn you need to consider how well your lawn drains. If your soil is heavily compacted it will struggle to drain water from heavy rainstorms, and there's nothing moss enjoys more than a damp environment. If your drainage issues are severe you may need to consider installation of drainage channels, however, most domestic lawns can improve their drainage by hollow tine aerating and filling the holes with a 70/30 or even 80/20 sand/soil mix. The sand will allow the water to drain much more freely away from the surface keeping it firmer underfoot.

So how do you get rid of moss in your lawn?

Iron (Fe) has long been used to effectively combat moss in lawns. It works by drying out the Moss plant and turning it black. Depending on the product used it can take between 10 days and two weeks to be effective, and after the moss has turned black it needs to be scarified or heavily raked up and removed from the lawn. After you have removed the moss from the lawn, it is worth addressing the poor soil condition that led to the moss with aeration, overseeding and top dressing. You can do this as part of full lawn renovations as we did last year in this video.

Be warned!!

rust on slabs caused by iron Fe moss killer

A word of warning when using any product with iron in it - if the iron gets onto patios, concrete or hard standing it can cause orange staining. Be really careful when spreading iron products and ensure you sweep it off of the hard standing before it rains. Also be careful you don't transfer the iron on your shoes to anywhere you don't want it, such as that new beige carpet in the lounge!

We combine our moss and weed treatments in the Turf Rise feed, weed and Moss killer (10-2-2 +8Fe), which contains 8% iron, as well as Dicamba, Mecoprop and 2,4-D to control all the broadleaf weeds that appear around May.

My secret weapon to keeping moss at bay

My secret weapon in the fight against moss is our sea of green seaweed meal, as this product increases aeration in the soil and improves its structure, allowing grassroots to establish deeper and denser allowing them to access more nutrients and stay super healthy, thick and lush. Prevention is much better than the cure, as we all know.

Seaweed Meal

In summary

In summary, moss is very simple to treat. Apply a good moss-killing treatment, wait 10 to 14 days for the moss to turn black then rake or scarifying it up. Simple.

But remember this will all be wasted effort unless you address the core issue of poor soil and cultural practices. Regularly aerate, scarify and feed your lawn to keep on top of Moss in your lawn.

Of course, the easiest way to stay on top of your lawn care is to subscribe to a Mowd lawn care subscription, where we send you the right product, at the right time, straight to your door, making moss a thing of the past!

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