Removing moss

Moss is a common problem for many UK homeowners. Though some moss is fine, it may not be to your liking – too much moss can be an indication that your lawn is not in peak condition. Early autumn or mid-to-late March is the best time to treat moss to prevent it coming back again later in the year. Use moss killer and wait until the moss has turned brown before raking the moss up or scarifying the lawn. Then aerate the soil and add a top dressing to improve the quality of the soil such as leaf mould. This is also a good time to over-seed your lawn if it is looking sparse.

autumn lawn care blog, lawnmower outside

When Is Moss Likely To Grow

Moss can begin to grow any time of the year, but it’s more likely to arrive during the autumn months since it prefers damp, shaded conditions.

As moss doesn’t have roots, it obtains nutrients from moisture sitting on the soil. If left uninhibited, these moss patches can swell. Pieces break off and once they re-establish in another part of your garden and then swell again before repeating the process, spreading even further.

How Does Moss Spread?

Moss likes to grow in areas where there is very little competition for nutrients and where conditions typically do not favour other plants, including grass.

Bald patches in the lawn

Large spaces between the grass blades provide 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, reducing the space between the grass blades and therefore preventing moss from growing.

Shady areas

Patches of grass in the shade are more susceptible to a moss invasion, as the grass is unable to absorb sunlight and create food for itself through photosynthesis. This, in turn, weakens the grass, providing an opportunity for moss and other competitors to grow.

If you are planning on over-seeding shaded patches of grass, look for some shade resistant grass seed as a deterrent to moss growth.

Under watering

Under watering and dry soil, especially in the summer months is another issue. Without enough water, the grass is weakened – giving moss the potential to establish itself.

To limit the chances of this, try to water the grass regularly, thoroughly and deeply. This will encourage the grass to root deeply, allowing them to find water during periods when water is scarce.

Moss Prevention

Soil compaction and aeration

Another common cause of gaps is a lack of aeration. Densely compacted soil makes it difficult for grass to grow and establish new roots. Compacted soil is likely to occur in areas of the garden with increased footfall, such as footpaths or play areas. When soil is compacted, air, water and other nutrients are prevented from reaching down to the roots, stunting healthy grass growth.

Aeration is one of the most useful lawn maintenance techniques, and can easily provide more benefit to your grass than most other lawn maintenance techniques. To aerate your lawn, repeatedly plunge a garden fork about 2 inches into the ground creating small holes. Do this regularly around the lawn until the whole area has been aerated. This is a good method for preventing moss growing as the grass can recover and stifle the moss spores.

How to remove moss from the lawn

If you have a small garden, then you can rake the moss up using a handheld rake, like those available from GARDENA. However, can be quite physical work, and may not be suitable for some gardeners.

Moss killer

Many gardeners use as moss killer or herbicides based on either glyphosate or iron sulphate. The result of any of these chemicals is much the same. The moss will wilt and die, making it much easier to rake up. However, do be aware that other plants may be affected by the herbicides you choose.

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.

If you use chemicals to remove moss patches, you will need to rake it up and collect it. The dead moss will not break down or add nutrients back into the soil. Instead, it will sit on the top of the lawn and eventually become thatch, which can be more damaging to your lawn.

Lawn Rake

If you have other plants nearby or don’t want to use chemicals in your garden, an electric lawn rake, like the Lawnrake Compact 3400, will make scarifying easier too. Electric lawn rakes remove and collect moss and thatch from your lawn at the same time, allowing you to dispose of the remains efficiently.

Lawnrake Compact 3400
Lawnrake Compact 3400
Cutting height max 8 mm
Cutting height min -5 mm
Weight 12.3 kg