If you have green moss growing in your yard, often referred to as lawn moss, it is a sign of deeper problems in your lawn. Simply removing the moss will not help if you don't correct the problems that allowed the moss to grow. It will quickly grow back. This page will help you understand why it is growing in your lawn and what must be done to fix the problem.
Lawn mosses are among the most primitive plants. There are literally thousands of species and can be found on every continent. Most lawn mosses have very specific conditions they can survive in. Conditions range from the blazing hot sands of death valley or even on the frozen tundra. Even in lawns, most will encounter a narrow range of conditions they can actively grow in.
This is a good thing for those who do not want the moss. Simply change the conditions sufficiently enough and it will usually weaken the plant. For more stubburn moss problems there are safe and efficient control methods.
Lawn Moss is sometimes used by landscapers around stone walkways, etc and can make an attractive addition to your landscape. It will grow in shaded areas where other plants fail. It can be transplanted as long as the growing conditions are favorable for moss.
Lawn mosses are part of the division called Bryophyta. They consists of three classes: Bryidae, the “true” mosses, Sphagnidae, are the peat mosses, and Andreaeidae, are the “granite mosses”. Bryidae is the class that lawn moss falls under.
When Moss is Really Not Moss
However, many plants are called mosses and have similar characteristics, but are not a true moss. For example, Reindeer Moss is actually lichens; Club Mosses and Spanish Moss are actually vascular plants; Water Moss found in ponds, lakes and oceans is actually algae.
Recognizing Conditions that Promote Lawn Moss
Mosses tend grow in conditions that do not favor vigorous grass growth. It is most often found where grass is thin or nonexistent. Therefore, the presence of lawn moss is a sign of preexisting lawn or soil problems and is not the cause the problems. Below are a few facts about lawn moss and growing conditions.
Reduce the Amount of Shade: Moss loves heavy shade and can grow in sites where many grasses cannot. The shady side of houses, large shade trees and trees with low hanging branches and forest conditions are favorite spots. Trimming low tree branches and opening up the canopy will allow more light and air that benefit grasses more than moss.
Increase Soil Fertility: Most lawn mosses excel in poor soil conditions, including low nutrient and acidic soils. A soil test should first be performed to see what is lacking in the soil and to what degree. Add palletized agricultural lime to soils with low pH and fertilizer to boost soil nutrients.
Adjust Soil Acidity: Adding lime to low pH soils will add alkalinity and raise the pH level. Acidic soils bind certain nutrients making them unavailable to the grass roots and hinder grass growth. It is important to realize that moss does not have true roots and does not draw nutrients from the soil; so correcting the pH is not an immediate cure for moss problems. The purpose of correcting soil acidity is to make the soil more productive for grass growth. Fixing the other problems related to moss growth should follow lime applications.
Correct Drainage and Compaction Problems: Compacted soil, high clay content soil, low spots, and grading problems that hold in water and do not allow for proper drainage will encourage lawn moss growth. Add heavy shade to the poorly draining soil problems and the moss favorability rockets upward.
Compacted soil can be fixed by core aeration. A core aerator that pulls out plugs of soil can be rented. Inexpensive core aerators that attach to the back of a riding mower can be purchased at lawn and garden stores.
Low spots can be fixed by adding quality soil to low areas. It may require planting new grass over heavily patched areas. Grading problems may be harder to fix depending on the size and degree of the problem. For serious problems it is best to consult a qualified landscape professional. Drainage tiles, tractor work, or other things may be needed. The water should be made to drain to a safe area away from the house.
Moss is fairly easy to kill if you use the right chemicals. Below is a list of materials that can kill or injure moss.
Note: "Gylphosate", the active ingredient of "Round-Up" and similar vegetation killers will have little to no effect on moss in the lawn. However, it will kill the grass surrounding the moss should the chemical come in contact with it.
All About Soil pH and Corrective Materials
All plants have a preferred soil pH. Understanding soil pH and the different materials for making corrections is not hard if you know what to do. Everything you need to know is here.
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