28/07/2014

Removing moss

Moss is a common problem for many UK homeowners. Most want a nice green lawn that looks great all year round. Unfortunately sometimes the nice green lawn you thought you had turns out to be moss and people go to great lengths to remove it.

The appearance of moss in your lawn provides a good indicator of the general health of your lawn, and unfortunately it’s not there because your grass is healthy. 

Moss can begin to grow any time of the year, and can quickly take over your garden. Moss doesn’t have roots so obtains its nutrients from moisture sitting on the soil. Using moss killers and chemicals will only offer a short term solution in removing moss, and will not offer any long term benefit to your lawn. 

After killing moss with chemicals you will need to rake it up and collect it, as unlike plants it will not break down and add nutrients into the soil. Instead it will sit on the top of the lawn and eventually create thatch, creating a different problem all together. 

To remove moss long term you need to first remove the moss using a lawn rake like the Flymo Lawnrake 3400, and then create good sustainable conditions for the grass to grow to prevent moss getting a look in. 

Causes and prevention of moss in lawns

There are many reasons why moss will begin to grow. Generally speaking moss likes to grow in areas where there is very little competition for nutrients and where conditions typically do not favour other plants. It is typically the opposite conditions that grass requires to grow. 

One of the biggest causes of moss growth is because the grass coverage of your lawn is too thin. More simply put - there isn’t enough grass. This can be caused by general poor maintenance or by scalping the lawn when cutting. 

By having large spaces between the grass blades, it provides the ideal location for moss to grow. One common technique to deter moss from growing in the first instance is a technique called over-seeding. By laying grass seed on top of mature grass and letting it grow, it creates a thicker lawn, and reduces the space between the grass blades, therefore preventing moss from growing. Not only does it help prevent moss, it creates a better looking lawn too. 

Patches of grass in the shade are more susceptible to a moss invasion also, as grass is unable to absorb sunlight and photosynthesis energy. This in turn weakens the grass providing an opportunity for moss to grow. If you are planning on over-seeding shaded patches of grass look for some shade resistant grass seed, as this type of grass will grow better and reduce the likelihood of moss growing. 

The lack of water available in the lawn for the grass to use, especially in the summer months is another issue. A lack of water weakens the grass providing moss with a window of opportunity to grow. 

To limit the chances of this, try and water the grass regularly. Water thoroughly and deeply. This will encourage the grass to root deeply, allowing them to find water more easily during periods when water may be in short supply. 

Another common cause is the lack of aeration of compacted soil. Heavily compacted soil makes it difficult for grass to grow, which in turn makes the grass coverage poor. Compacted soil is likely to occur in areas of the garden that get a lot of use for example paths, walkways and around children’s play equipment. When the soil is compacted, it prevents air, water and other nutrients from reaching the grass roots which is required for healthy grass growth. 

Aeration is one of the most underused lawn maintenance techniques, and can single handily provide more benefit to your grass than most other lawn maintenance techniques. To aerate your lawn you can simply plunge a garden fork about 2 inches into the ground creating small holes. Do this around the garden until the whole garden is covered. 

Removing moss from the lawn

If you have moss in your lawn, you need to remove it. If you have a small garden then you can rake the moss up using a handheld rake, like those available from GARDENA. This however can be quite physical work, and might not be suitable for some. 

A quicker and easier way to remove moss is to use an electric lawn rake, like those made by Flymo. Electric lawn rakes remove both moss and thatch from your lawn whilst collecting it at the same time, allowing you to dispose of the remains in an appropriate manner. 

The best time to remove moss from your lawn is when the conditions are suitable to promote healthy grass growth. This can be early spring or late summer before the autumn sets in. When you have removed the moss you should water the lawn and maybe add fertiliser to further promote grass growth.

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