If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you are all too familiar with the annual battle to control moss in your lawn. The long periods of cool damp weather that the area is known for sets up the perfect climate for moss development. It is generally a problem in the spring, but it can persist and grow throughout the remainder of the year if environmental conditions are conductive for its growth.
Moss can be a problem throughout the US, not just in Washington or Oregon. Here are 5 best practices that will reduce moss growth in your lawn:
One of the best ways to control moss is to improve the amount of sun that reaches the turf. Consider pruning trees and shrubs to increase sunlight penetration.
This can be accomplished by adding a bioswale or a rain garden to catch stormwater runoff.
Water deeply and infrequently
Over watering is a great way to increase moss growth as well as several types of algae. Allow your lawn to dry out before applying any more water.
Mowing short will reduce the vigor and growth of most home lawns. The grass blade is the food producing part of the plant. The shorter it is, the less food will be produced, which in turn will lead to a weaker plant. Weak plants cannot out-compete moss.
Except for Centipedegrass, most lawns require anywhere from 2 to 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. of turf per year. Check with your County Extension office for the recommended amount to apply to your lawn on an annual basis.
There are several approaches to controlling moss, potassium salts or sulfate products such as ferrous sulfate or ammonium sulfate. There are also herbicides that will control certain types of moss. Look for products that contains carfentrazone as one of its main ingredients. Be sure to read and follow all label directions when using any of these products.
Consider having your soil tested. Most County Extension offices offer this service at a low cost, usually less than $20. If the pH of the soil is too low (acid), the addition of lime may help reduce the amount of moss by encouraging better turf growth through improved nutrient utilization by roots of the turfgrasses.
Core aeration will also help by reducing compaction and will help the turf roots to grow and expand. Keep in mind that it is especially a good idea to plant grass seed that is shade tolerant if the area has a good deal of shade.
Finally, it is important to understand that if there is too much shade, grass will not grow well. The area may need to be replanted with shade tolerant ground covers or perennials. Most grasses need about 70% sunlight during the day to grow well. There are a few turf grass types that will tolerate a little more shade, but it is sometimes easier to stop fighting the battle and change to ground covers or hostas.
To find out more about moss and ways to control it, contact your Neighborhood Lawn Care Professional at Spring-Green.