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How to Get Rid of Moss in Your Lawn – And Keep It Out

texture green moss stones How to Get Rid of Moss in Your Lawn - And Keep It Out

Moss is not actually a weed. It is an ancient plant with shallow roots growing in the shady damp sections of your lawn to annoy you.

Removing moss in lawns is not hard. Moss does not harm healthy grass. Preventing future moss growth is the challenge. Promoting proper soil pH, improving soil drainage, and eliminating shady areas all keep moss out of your lawn. 

Most herbicides do not work on moss. Buy an iron-based chemical moss killer and you are feeding your lawn while killing the moss. Or get rid of moss naturally.

Following our suggestions helps you kill moss. They also prevent moss from returning to areas of your lawn.

grooved green moss background nature 1 How to Get Rid of Moss in Your Lawn - And Keep It Out
Moss taking over poor soil

Causes of Moss Growth In Lawns

Many of the soil conditions preventing the growth of strong healthy grass are the conditions that moss thrives on. Moss loves all of the following conditions.

  • Acidic Soil (Low pH level)
  • Soil Low in Nutrients
  • Compacted Soil
  • Shady Damp Areas
  • Poor drainage

Patches of moss are usually a sure sign that your lawn and the soil it grows in need remediation. Moss is opportunistic and grows anywhere that grass can’t crowd it out. Improving the soil conditions not only makes healthier grass but eliminates moss growth.

Removing Moss From Your Lawn

Unlike weeds, moss does not hurt your grass. The spores take hold in lawn areas where the grass is sparse or non-existent. Moss control is usually unnecessary in healthy lawns.

Kill Moss Naturally

These two DIY homemade products will kill the moss in your lawn naturally. They won’t kill the surrounding grass. Or add more chemicals to your soil. 

  • Liquid Dish Detergent. 2 – 4 ounces in two gallons of lukewarm water. 
  • Baking Soda. One small box of baking soda in two gallons of lukewarm water.

Soak the moss to the point of saturation using a garden sprayer. Two gallons is enough to cover approximately 1000 square feet of lawn. Only spray moss-covered areas. No need to spray the whole lawn.

About 24 hours later your moss should be dead and have turned yellow or brown. Since moss has a very shallow root structure, the dead stuff should be easy to pull up with a steel rake. Seal it in a plastic bag and move the bag away from your lawn. Any spores that escape can still seed and your moss removal efforts need to be repeated.

CHAPIN 20002 2 Gallon Lawn, Sprayer, Translucent White

Courtesy: Amazon – Two-gallon garden sprayer

Kill Moss Chemically

You should be able to find moss-killing herbicides at garden centers or home improvement stores. It must be specifically formulated for moss. Moss isn’t affected by normal weed herbicides. Most moss killers are iron-based. Iron is good for your lawn.

The best time to apply moss herbicide is in the spring or early fall, but it will work throughout the year. Follow the manufacturer’s directions. Many moss-killing herbicides also include added soil nutrients.

Scotts MossEx

Courtesy: Amazon – Moss killing herbicide c/w lawn nutrients

Preventing Moss From Returning

Moss removal is fairly easy, but why go through the hassle if it isn’t necessary? Moss prevention requires good lawn care practices. Keeping your lawn healthy not only gets rid of moss in the lawn; it also keeps other weeds out.

Fix Acidic Soil

Soil with a low pH is acidic. Moss grows well in acidic soil. Grass doesn’t. Add lime to your lawn to improve the pH of your soil. A pH of 6.5 is ideal for grass. Not for moss. Most states have soil testing labs. You can send samples or you can buy inexpensive soil testers from a gardening center or online.

Lime can take months to change soil pH. Add it in the fall to give it lots of time to fix your soil. Fast-acting lime can be used at any time of the year to speed up the process.

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Courtesy: amazon.com – Soil tester c/w pH, light, moisture

Add Nutrients and Fertilizer

One of the great benefits of sending soil samples to a state lab is getting information on nutrient content. Having that information helps you tailor your fertilizer and nutrient applications to your lawn’s needs. 

Buy the additives you need and apply them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Your lawn will be healthier and your moss problems may just disappear.

Repair Compacted Soil

Compacted soil produces weak, spindly, and sparse turf growth. And encourages moss in a lawn. Aerate your lawn with a core aerator to begin loosening up your soil. Dethatching first will speed up the process. Dethatching and aeration allow oxygen, moisture, and fertilizer to penetrate deeply and get to roots. 

Fertilize and topdress with compost or manure to improve both texture and soil pH. Seed areas where the grass is thin or sickly. More and healthier grass will choke out the moss.

Eliminate Shaded Areas

Lawn moss thrives in damp shaded areas. Grass turf requires at least six hours of sunlight per day. Moss hates sunlight. Meaning that shaded damp areas are likely places for moss to grow.

You don’t have to–and probably don’t want to–take out large beautiful trees. But a little judicious pruning may allow more sunlight–resulting in less moss. Alternatively, you can consider digging up the shaded area and turning it into a rock garden feature. Or plant shade-loving ground cover that will choke out any competition. Perennial Hosta is one such ground cover.

1024px Hosta33 jpeg How to Get Rid of Moss in Your Lawn - And Keep It Out

Repair Lawn Drainage

Fixing lawn drainage is often a matter of building up low spots. This can usually be accomplished by topdressing an area with black loam or compost. You can only add up to 1/2″ at a time to keep from killing the grass.

Deep dips may require more topsoil. Fill up the low spot to a quarter inch higher than the surrounding soil. (It will settle.) Put down sod for a quick fix. Or seed the area. Spread fertilizer with the seed or before laying sod.

Yards with very bad drainage or multiple large low spots may require a lot of dirt to re-slope the entire yard. Or the installation of a French drain system to ensure proper drainage. Both of these options require new sod or seeding.