What Can I Do About Moss in My Yard?
This frequently asked question often comes from a misconception that if the moss is gone then the grass will grow better.
In fact, the existence of moss is a clear indication of an environment that is optimum for growing moss and probably not good for growing turfgrass.
Moss is commonly thought to be a fungus or that it “chokes out” the grass. These are myths.
Moss is not a fungus.
It is a plant that has no roots so it does not need soil to grow. It takes water and nutrients from the air and can grow on the surface of trees, rocks, soil, concrete, bricks, or just about any other surface in a landscape. It can grow in either sun or shade, but is more likely to be seen in shady areas because shady areas tend to stay moist. Moisture is the main factor in moss growth.
Moss does not compete with turfgrass.
If you have an area with a lot of moss, eradicating the moss will not make the area better for growing grass. This is why we do not recommend treatment of moss to kill it. There is certainly stuff you could use to temporarily remove it, but moss will keep coming during all seasons as long as the environment is good for it.
What are my options if I really don’t want moss in my yard?
You could modify the environmental conditions that are making the area inhospitable for turfgrass. In our experience, the biggest factor that inhibits turfgrass is inadequate sunlight for the type of grass.
Bermudagrass needs at least 8 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight to grow thick and healthy. Zoysiagrass and Centipedegrass do well with at least 6-7 hours. Tall Fescue needs about 5-6 hours of sunlight per day. Fine Fescues can do okay with as little as 3-4 hours of sun.
If the sunlight requirement for your type of grass is not achieved, then the grass will be thin. Thin grass provides a better opportunity for other plants (i.e., weeds) that do not need as much sunlight to grow. If the area stays moist, which often goes hand-in-hand with shade, then moss will happily grow there.
In addition to inadequate sunlight there may be several reasons why grass might not grow well in an area. They include soil compaction, nutrient deficiencies, pH problems, poor soil structure, and poor drainage. These could all be mitigated, but without the required sunlight the grass won’t improve and the moss or other plants will thrive.
Another possibility is to welcome a new perspective on moss. Think of it as a very pretty, soft, cushiony, cool, green, low-maintenance, eco-friendly ground cover—a charming landscape feature. It does not require mowing, irrigation, or fertilizer, which is easier and less costly for you, and healthier for the environment.