The secret to success is finding the root cause, and then growing the healthiest lawn…
Ah, autumn. That time of year when the heating comes on, the leaves fall off, the baristas in Starbucks ask if you want to upgrade to a pumpkin-spiced latte, and lawns start getting invaded by moss because that’s just what happens at this time of year, right? Wrong. At least the moss part. Everything else is right, but the moss part is wrong because your lawn shouldn’t just start filling up with moss, which is what too many homeowners now believe.
The truth is, however, any lawn-owner that’s noticed a bunch of moss plants needs to realise this is an indicator for less than ideal lawn conditions. The point is, moss is not the cause of your problem; it is the by-product of a much bigger issue.
The question is: what are the potential causes of your moss invasion. Well, from our unrivalled experience as the UKs leading lawn care providers (ooooof, that’s a snazzy title, right?!), it could be one of these:
- An issue with your soil’s pH level, or more specifically, your soil’s pH is too low.
- Your lawn is lacking in some of the essential nutrients it needs to survive and thrive.
- There is a big old drainage problem with your lawn, usually thanks to thatch and compaction.
- Excessive shade is creating the ideal conditions for moss to grow.
So here’s the bad news: removing any patches of moss you find in your lawn is not going to solve your moss problem permanently. The good news is: you now get to live out your childhood fantasy of being a private investigator by working out exactly what that moss loves about your lawn so much. You need to work out exactly what is causing moss to grow where it is, otherwise a new patch of moss will keep reappearing no matter how many times you try to remove it.
Remove The Moss That’s In Your Lawn Now
The first thing you need to do is get rid of any moss that’s currently growing in your lawn, which isn’t too hard to do because they’re pretty shallow-rooted plants. More often than not, you just need a sturdy rake, a good night’s sleep and a strong coffee to win this first battle. That said, you might need to call in some backup, in which case you can turn your Fairy Liquid into an epic moss killer. Yup. Soap can kill off moss.
Either way, these moss-fighting moves are only ever going to be a first step. Necessary and fun, but temporary. What you need to enjoy the moss-free serenity of long-lasting success, is remove the moss you can see right now and then turn back into Sherlock and start investigating the root cause(s) of your weed problem.
The Root Cause Could Be Your Soil Conditions
The first place to point your proverbial magnifying glass is your soil, which you can do with a DIY soil testing kit or by calling us and having one of our lawn care legends come and test it for you. Whichever way you decide to go, by testing your soil’s pH level you’ll be able to see whether or not your soil contains the necessary nutrients for growing a healthy lawn. If your soil is too acidic, you may have just found one of the causes to your moss issue because your soil may well need more alkaline to help your grass effectively outgrow the moss.
If this is the case, simply head down to your nearest garden centre, pick up some garden lime and sprinkle that around. If, however, you find your soil is lacking the nutrients it needs to grow a thick, healthy lawn, you’ll probably need to add some lawn fertiliser to your order and start regularly adding that to your lawn too. Or, if you’d rather, our ridiculously chipper tribe of lawn technicians can come and do this for you — no hassle, no guesswork, just success.
Poor Drainage May Be The Underlying Issue
If there’s one thing Monsieur Moss loves more than anything, it’s a lawn (or more specifically, soil) with drainage problems. Poor drainage means excessively moist conditions and that means a moss party is about to break out.
“But how do you know if your soil is rubbish at draining?” I hear you ask your dog. Well, there are two things you can do. The first is think back to the last time you had heavy rainfall and whether you had any standing water somewhere on your lawn; and the other thing you can do is guess because a lawn that is heavily used (especially in the summer) is usually suffering from soil compaction and that can also prevent water from percolating through soil quickly. In either case, the solution is aeration.
When we aerate a lawn, we use a machine that creates nice deep holes in your soil that don’t just improve drainage, but also allow air and essential nutrients to reach the roots. This is good news because the healthier your roots the stronger your grass plants, and the stronger your grass the more chance your lawn has of crowding out any moss. Oh and, right now, during the autumn, is one of the best times for a spot of aeration.
Scarification Could Have The Answers Too
For some lawn owners that are hellbent on getting rid of their moss problem once and for all, it’s less about the soil and more about the thick layer of thatch that is sat on top of the soil, preventing nutrients and water from getting to the roots. That’s where scarification becomes your new best buddy. It’s basically like raking but if that rake looked like Arnold Swarzeneggar because this machine rips through any thatch to leave deep channels that help your lawn thrive.
Excessive Shade May Well Be The Cause
Last but by no means least, the big cause of all your moss problems may be too much shade over your lawn. Thankfully, even the most newbie garden-lovers know what this calls for: a chainsaw (okay, or maybe just a hedge trimmer). Whichever makes more sense to you, the only way to fight an excessive shade problem is to open up the area and let more sunlight reach more of your lawn.
The reason for this is simple: moss is the biggest opportunist out there. It only takes a patch of shaded grass that stays moist for most of the morning and – BAM! – moss is in there claiming squatters rights. So either remove any branches or bushes that are casting long shadows, or think about replacing your current grass with a more shade-tolerant grass type, such as a tall fescue.
The Bottom Line
The point is, when you’re dealing with a moss problem, the best defence is always offence because the healthier your grass the more chance it has of winning the war against moss. So instead of wondering how you can get rid of any moss patches, start asking yourself, “How can I make my grass greener?”