5 Tips to Controlling Moss In Your Lawn

Moss in your lawn

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:

Eliminate shade

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.

Improve drainage

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.

Mow high

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.

Fertilize properly

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.

moss in your lawn

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.

How to Control Algae in Your Lawn

lawn algae

As I sit in my office staring out at about 12 inches of slowly melting snow, it’s nice to know that there are parts of the country where grass can be seen and lawn care has started.

I recently received a picture from one of our Field Service Professionals in Opelika, AL of some algae growing in one of his lawns. Although lawn algae do not infect the grass plant, they can be a significant pest problem in home lawns. But before we get into lawn algae control, let’s understand why it happens.

How Do Algae Form on My Lawn?

Algae contain chlorophyll just like plants, but they produce thread-like growths similar to fungi. Algae grow in areas of a lawn that are thinned by poor growing conditions, areas that retain water due to poor drainage, or areas that experience excessive watering or extreme shade. The amount of algae can increase if air flow is restricted by fences or other structures. Additionally, they can grow across the turf canopy or on top of the mulch, and they generally grow best when it is warm and humid during the late spring, summer, and early fall. When they dry out, they form a crust that may repel water, slowing down turf recovery.

How Do I Get Rid of Lawn Algae?

The best ways to control lawn algae growth are:

  • Change the growing conditions, making it less suitable for algae to develop.
  • Prune low growing or dense foliage, and core aerate.
  • Improve the drainage patterns of a lawn. This can be a difficult task, but if the algae are a consistent problem, it may be the only solution.
  • Reduce the amount of water that the area receives.
  • Mow higher to allow the grass growing in a shady environment to receive more sunlight.

Once the algae dry out, they can be raked out, but care has to be taken not to damage the existing grass in the area. Once the algae have been raked out, the area can be core aerated and overseeded to improve the density of the turf.

Please leave any questions, comments, or lawn algae stories you’d like to share in the comments section below.