Moss in lawns

Moss in lawns

There are multiple species of moss that come under the plant group of liverworts and comprise of the bryophyta family. Moss appears for various reasons if you’ve been having lawn care and your moss is increasing chances are your lawn treatments are simply feeding the moss plants. And that company are not treating your moss.


Its been a busy start to 2017 and the most common problem we are being asked to deal with is managing moss in lawns. Even the most intensively managed sites still have to battle the same issues.

Moss plants grow on the surface and do not put down roots, they tend to appear where moisture forms and stays though this is not always the case as some mosses can grow in dry conditions. The first and most obvious culprit is shade and drainage. So take time to prune back overgrown shrubs and increase air flow. Carry out a bit of garden renovation to allow in light and air to flow around the garden. To amend surface drainage scarification removes thatch which locks in moisture and aeration helps increase drainage and remove compaction. Compaction is a big culprit when looking at why moss forms. A good eighty percent of the lawns i see are suffering with severe moss from compacted ground and have severe thatch.


The effect to the grass plant roots

Regular aeration really is the best thing you can do for your lawn. Hollow tining in Spring or Autumn is essential as is scarification at least every three years.

Compaction in the soil especially on clay is no different to a pond lining when it becomes compacted water pools and does not drain causing grass plants to weaken and in some cases die. When looking at why moss forms it generally all points back to the same reason. A specific cause is weakening the grass plants so you must eliminate that cause or causes which then promotes moss so your lawn can thrive.

Moss tends to prefer acidic soils so adjusting Ph will help but not always as  it may also increase weed population later on.

How moss is killed


Potassium in high doses or high potassium fertilizers are known to poison moss.

Ferrous Sulphate

Ferrous sulphate or iron has been and still is the main ingredient used to manage moss and is well know for its ability to inhibit moss.


Its important not to just focus on killing and removing moss the majority of the time the moss has been able to establish because the turf has insufficient nutrients to thrive. So an annual feed program once the moss has been treated and mechanically removed is essential. Especially over the winter months!


A regular culprit i see is red thread the majority of lawns have had thread which has weakened the plants enough for the moss to take hold. More often than not most homeowners can better prevent red thread and moss with better mowing practices. Simply cleaning the mower after cutting and cutting higher not scalping the lawn all help in the long term health of your lawn. More often than not better mowing practices can dramatically increase your lawns tolerance.


Second to disease are pests. Most commonly they are chafer grubs or leather jackets which have eaten the grass plant roots weakening the plants to the point that disease, weeds and moss can take over.

Over seeding

Sowing more pest and disease tolerant species will help the lawn stay healthy later on. Increasing the grass plant population or sward density will help two fold. The extra plants and roots will help manage surface moisture through capillary action. And the extra plants will leave no space for weeds and moss to take hold.

How moss is removed


Heavy scarification is generally the only way to remove large amounts of moss the process inevitably requires the seeding of a brand new lawn and topdressing to correct any surface / soil issues.


Certain species of fungi and bacteria can be used to break down and the digest the dead moss. From experience this can only be done when weather conditions allow. And generally light scarification is still required to remove enough material to allow the fungi and bacteria access through the sward and begin the process.

Cost vs result

There really is no cheap way to correctly manage moss as generally you are correcting multiple problems so the best approach is to prevent it establishing with lawn treatments. Just killing the moss will not control the problem. What works for one lawn will not work for another as each lawn has specific problems. Heritages treatment program has achieved a high success rate of managing moss in lawns as we customize our program to suit your lawn why not give us a call and see what we can do for you.




After Scarification Top dressing and over seeding


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