Moss – The green fuzz on your lawn

Moss – The green fuzz on your lawn

Moss may look nice on rocks and under trees, but on your lawn, it means trouble. The Western Cape winter is tough on properties. The grey, wet days and almost no (or slow) grass growth are ideal conditions for moss to grow and thrive in. 

What is Moss?

Moss is a mass of tiny plants. They have a shallow root system spread by spores and fill the spaces where the lawn is thin. Therefore, moss in your lawn is a good indicator that you have a deeper problem. However, the control of moss requires more than just the killing of existing moss. The best way to prevent moss from growing in your lawn is to correct the underlying reason the moss began growing in the first place.

Get out of the shade!

Poor drainage, shade, acidic soil, heavy traffic and lack of fertilizer are all reasons moss thrives on your lawn. Ridding lawn moss requires it first to remove the moss and, secondly, stop it from coming back.

Heat – the moss Killer!

The best time to kill moss is during late winter or early spring. It doesn’t die back in winter and also doesn’t release spores during cold weather. Take your rake and rake it off the ground with a little bit of muscle and elbow grease. It is best to rake in several directions to loosen the moss. First, discard the moss with your garbage – not on your compost heap! For larger areas, you may want to spray a moss killer. I don’t recommend using harsh chemical killers; it is not safe for your pets and kids. Instead, use two teaspoons of either baking soda or dishwashing liquid on 1 litre of water, and spray directly on the moss. This will keep it from developing further or returning after it dries up.

Good drainage is crucial!

Secondly, after removing the moss, start by correcting the area’s condition. Poor drainage can be rectified by aerating the soil using a garden fork or hand-operated spikers. Aerating the soil improves the flow of water, air and nutrients to the grassroots. Pay attention to areas where water is likely to gather. In areas with heavy traffic, also aerate the soil and divert traffic away for a week or two. If too much shade is the problem, thin the canopy under trees if you can, or plant or sow a shade loving grass. Also, remove dead leaves and other debris accumulating on your lawn surface. It prevents grass from receiving sunlight and moisture.


Healthy soil means a healthy lawn

Soil pH is essential to the health of plants and can also affect the nutrient uptake in plants. Lawn grass prefers a pH of 5 to 7. Moss prefers acidic soil. Use dolomitic lime to raise or “sweeten” the soil.   Fertilize the lawn in winter with a fertilizer high in phosphate to encourage root development and make lawn grass more competitive and tackle growth. Re-seed bare patches on your lawn.

Having a healthy lawn without moss or weeds can give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction and provide a beautiful personal space for you and your family.

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