Moss can slowly creep over your lawn, making what was once green and lush unsightly and less than ideal. While moss isn’t actually detrimental to your grass, most people don’t want it overtaking their yard. Getting rid of it is easy but takes several steps, and discovering just why it finds your lawn so hospitable is key.
This Old House has rounded up the top tips for getting rid of moss in your lawn. You’ll learn what you need to know, from how to apply dish soap to dethatching—and how to prevent moss from coming back. Once you kill off the unwanted moss, The This Old House Reviews Team recommends a lawn care provider like TruGreen to keep your lawn in tip-top shape. This industry leader offers five annual plans and a selection of a la carte services so you can customize your lawn care.
What is Moss?
Before you get started, it’s important that you know moss isn’t like other weeds—so traditional weed killers won’t be effective against it. This pesky, prehistoric plant doesn’t have true roots and isn’t actually detrimental to your grass. In fact, some people incorporate moss into their lawns on purpose.
But moss does indicate that your lawn is struggling. Common causes for lawn moss include issues like excessive shade or soil problems—it can be compacted, have low soil pH, or poor drainage. While grasses suffer in these conditions, moss thrives. So even though moss won’t kill your grass, the conditions that led to it can.
Getting Rid of Moss in Your Lawn Naturally
The most common way to get rid of moss naturally is by using dish soap. The best time to kill moss is when it’s actively growing, in late spring to early summer or late summer to early fall.
Using dish soap
If you have a small patch of moss, you can mix 1 gallon of water and 2 ounces of dish soap into a spray bottle and spray the mix onto patches of moss. For larger lawns you should double the proportions of each.
Spray the mixture onto patches of moss and drench them thoroughly. Within 24 hours, the moss will dry up, turn brown, and die. Rake up the dead moss, and re-seed the areas. Finish off by placing soil on top of the seeds.
Raking and dethatching
If you’re dealing with a limited moss problem, you can try simply raking it up, going at it at different angles to loosen it up. Once you’ve gathered all the moss, place it in a trash can.
For a speedier fix, use a power rake—a gas-powered item that can remove thatch and moss— or fit your lawn mower with a dethatching blade to speed up the process.
Getting Rid of Moss in Your Lawn with Chemicals
The two most common ingredients in moss-killing chemicals are iron sulfate and glyphosate. Iron sulfate will start damaging moss in a matter of hours and effectively kill it within two days. This ingredient is commonly found in fertilizers and won’t harm your lawn’s grass.
Glyphosate, on the other hand, is non-selective and will kill both the moss and grass it comes into contact with.
How to Prevent Moss
If you want to prevent moss from taking up residence, make your lawn less hospitable to the weed. The best way to do this is by resolving the issues that may have led to the moss in the first place.
The precise amount of sun your lawn needs will depend on your region and grass type. On average, most lawns need about 4-6 hours of sunlight per day. If branches are casting a shadow over a large area of your lawn, prune them back. You can also switch to growing a grass that tolerates shade better, like tall fescue.
Low soil pH
Send a sample of your soil to a university or your local cooperative extension. They can test the soil to determine if it has the proper nutrients and whether it’s alkaline enough. In general, a lawn’s pH level should be between 6.0 and 7.0. To make your lawn less acidic, you can apply lime. Soil amendments and regular fertilization are the key to a healthy lawn.
Poor soil drainage
If your soil retains too much moisture, it can’t drain very well. Drainage issues welcome moss. The type of soil you have can impact the likelihood of drainage issues—clay soil tends to puddle. Not to worry. You can amend the soil to make it easier for moisture to pass through.
Excessive foot traffic and thatch can make your soil compacted, preventing it from accessing a steady flow of nutrients, water, and air. You can rectify this by aerating, using several different options of machines to poke thousands of tiny holes into your lawn to let it breathe. Dethatching, or breaking up the layer of decomposing organic matter between grass blades and the soil, will also alleviate this issue.
Top Recommended Lawn Care Provider
Frequently Asked Questions
Our Rating Methodology
To provide readers with the most objective, accurate, and detailed recommendations, the This Old House Reviews Team continually researches lawn care service companies on the market. We take the following steps to obtain up-to-date information about the industry and each company we review:
- Analyze more than 100 customer reviews from third-party review sites, such as Yelp, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and Google Reviews, for each company
- Secret-shop for lawn care plans and packages to get a sense of cost, offered services, and the overall shopping experience for prospective customers
- Speak with representatives on the phone to simulate the customer service experience from each provider
- Update information on a regular basis to ensure the most accurate information when plans or services change with each company
We use the data from our research to build an in-depth rating system that allows us to score lawn care providers on a 100-point scale. Here are the factors in our evaluation and their designated scores:
- Plan options (30): As one of the most important factors for homeowners shopping for a lawn care service, this one is weighted heavily based on each company’s lawn coverage. Companies that offer more options, such as irrigation, weed control, seeding, and aeration services in addition to a general plan, score higher than others.
- Trustworthiness (30): Each company’s reputation is another significant factor for homeowners to consider before signing up for a plan. We scored providers based on their BBB score, accreditation, and offered guarantees available with each purchase.
- Additional Benefits (20): We gave extra points to companies that provide a few additional services and benefits with their offered plans, such as organic treatments, pest control services, and a mobile app for digital communication and plan management.
- Customer Service (10): In this rating category, we awarded points to customer-focused lawn care service providers who offer weekend availability and easy communication through phones, online chats, and online resources.
- Availability (10): We also scored companies based on their overall availability, rewarding those that are nationally available over local companies only operating in select cities or ZIP codes.
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