#33- What do I do about moss in my lawn?

Moss is a pretty cool looking, very interesting, non-vascular plant. But chances are, you don't want it in your lawn. Today Ete discusses moss: why it's growing in your lawn and what you can do about it. 


Hey, Hey, what is up everyone? This is Ete with another episode of Eco Lawn Science. I hope everyone's doing okay today. It's March–St Patrick's Day? Nope, it's 2 days after St. Patrick's Day and it's snowing here and there was an earthquake this morning in Salt Lake City about an hour away. I think it was a 5.7, which is bizarre. And there's a Coronavirus out there putting the world in the panic. So we're just going to keep rolling. But it's crazy.

We're going to talk about moss today. You know, moss, that green fuzzy stuff that seems to grow everywhere and where it's dark and damp and shady. Let's talk a little bit about it. One of the common things is a lot of your common weed killers will not kill it because it doesn't have a root system or a vascular system, like your weeds or grasses or those types of things do. So it doesn't move the product. If you were to apply it, it doesn't like translocate or move it through the root system. It needs a whole different method.

We're gonna talk about common moss. There's different types of moss throughout the world. We're gonna talk about what they just call common moss. So just your, you know, that green fluffy stuff that you see. It doesn't need a lot of light, but it does need a lot of moisture, a lot of water. So you'll notice, this is where you're going to find it: in shady areas that are, like, consistently damp, poorly drained areas, so bad soil drainage, and extremely acidic areas. So those on the pH scale or where there's too much acid in the soil, it's more acidic. Those are the areas. Where a healthy turfgrass and most plants need the opposite, right? They need good sun. They need not too damp, you know, nice, good soil. And so that's why moss kind of grows where everything else fails. Which, I think it's pretty cool.

I think it's a really cool plant. I actually love it as a ground cover. I know, you know, people don't want it in their lawns, but I love it when you're out hiking. We were recently in Hawaii hiking on this trail and that, and we hit this part, it's just a ton of moss and it was soft and it was just really cool. So, you know, it's got its place for sure.

So what can we do about it and what do we do? So the biggest thing is, you know, is timing. Let's talk first a little bit about the conditions. So we want to correct the conditions, you know: those dark, damp, wet, poor soil conditions. So one of the best things is obviously you can aerate that soil, whether you use a core or liquid aeration, get in there and loosen it up, that compact soil that, that awfully tight soil. And help to correct those drainage problems. And that will help.

Check over your irrigation, make sure you're not over-watering. Sometimes you might have a busted pipe somewhere and you have a leak and it's just spewing out and that's gonna create more ideal opportunities for moss to move in. So check on your irrigation. Make sure, you know, one thing people don't always do is if you have a landscape, and let's say you have 78%–that was a funny number–78% of your area is in sun. But let's, I guess we're gonna have to go with 22% of your area was under the shade. You know, you're probably not going to have to water that shady area as much. It's not going to need as much. So it's really a matter of understanding your landscape and what it needs.

But as we said, the pH, when you have a lot of moss, generally is pretty low. It's acidic. And so what you do is you take your soil test and there are different types of lime–and I did an episode on lime, and I've done one on soil samples, NPA samples–but it'll do that and it'll let you know and if that pH is off, you want to correct it. So that's, that's the first thing.

So you're gonna look at your irrigation, make sure you are watering properly for every part of your property. So if it's shadier, you may cut back. Make sure your pH is dialed in. You know, just try to get more sunlight and just aerate it and keep that soil as loose as possible. So just those things right there will help to kind of fight it off.

Now there are some treatments out there that exist. Now they're a little bit different, but what they do is they usually dry out the moss by exhausting their life giving moisture. So they use a lot of iron based products. There are some soaps, soap of fatty acids that you could actually use, more natural products like that. I know there are some remedies for dish soaps and a little vinegar. I have not tried those. So I actually love home remedies for myself, but I don't share them or discuss them publicly just because it's easy to make a mistake when you're mixing at home. So I'd hate to be responsible for that. So for that reason, I usually go with recommendations that are commercial. But yeah, there's all kinds of different products you can get. But yeah, you just to stay clear of anything that says like a weed killer cause that's really not gonna work. And then of course, just feed your lawn, aerate your lawn. You know, if you have to detach it.

One quick story, I remember–it was actually my mom's house that I already brought up–way back in the day. It used to be she had a front yard surrounded by trees, oak trees and just plants and everything was great, but the lawn was awful–but the landscape was amazing–and it was probably 80% moss. Now at this time, this was when I was younger, we never fed the lawn. We didn't water the lawn. It just was its own thing. And so I remember what we did exactly. We raked the entire lawn out. We used kind of a power raker to get the majority. And then we just hand raked the rest and we got it all out and just really turned the soil up a little bit, you know, let it breathe at least. And then we reseeded–well, we lined it. We got the pH balanced in, we fertilized it. We re-seeded. And then after about it took about a full year of spraying and then the fall we seeded again. And after about a year, that lawn was amazing. I mean it really, it really was incredible. Since then it has gone back just because they don't have an irrigation system and so, and so it kind of has unfortunately gone backwards. But that being said, yeah, it's just a simple process.

But I love the idea. If you are having a, if you have a high concentration, just rip it out. Just get it out of there and adjust the soil, fertilize and you'll be on your way. And then once you get it figured out, it might just be a little bit of some moss treatments occasionally to keep everything good. But if you keep it fertilized and get that irrigation proper and some sunlight, you're golden.

So anyway, that's all I got out on the moss. Hope you guys have a great day.

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