Ask The County Agent: Getting rid of moss in my yard

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By Stephanie Butcher, Coweta County Extension Office

Question: “How can I get rid of the moss growing in my landscape and yard?”

Agent: If you have been to a landscape management program at the Extension office, then you’ve probably heard, “Right plant, right place.” The idea is that when you plant something in the correct location, then there is a good chance that plant will thrive there. For example, shade loving plants need to be in the shade, sun loving plants need to be in the sun… you get the idea.

Well, moss is no different. Moss grows where conditions are right for it to thrive. It shows up in areas of wet, compacted soils with low pH where grass does not survive or has thinned.

Although you can use chemical methods to suppress moss, it isn’t a long-term solution since you aren’t really changing the environmental conditions that moss loves. You can apply two to three pounds of hydrated lime in 3 gallons of water per 1,000 square feet.

For a more permanent option, you’ll need to improve growing conditions for whatever you would like to have growing in place of the moss such as turfgrass, ground covers or ornamentals.

Consider these cultural practices:

Maintain good soil fertility and pH by soil testing. For most turfgrasses, the pH should be 6.0 to 6.5.

Improve soil drainage. Soils that stay moist because of poor drainage should be amended so that water drains off the area.

Increase light penetration and air circulation. Prune tree limbs below 10 feet and selected limbs in the crown to improve light penetration and air movement.

Use a shade-tolerant grass. Use St. Augustinegrass, zoysiagrass or tall fescue. If direct sunlight does not reach the ground during the day, an ornamental ground cover such as liriope, mondograss or Japanese pachysandra may be better suited to the site.

Cultivate compacted soils. Aerification with a machine that removes plugs of soil will help reduce compaction, but it will take repeated aerification over time for severely compacted soils. Drainage in fine-textured soils can be improved by cultivation and adding large amounts of organic matter and sand.

Irrigate deeply and infrequently. Most healthy turfgrasses need about 1 inch of water each week during active growth, so water only when needed and avoid light, frequent irrigation. With as much rain as we’ve been getting, you shouldn’t need to water at all right now.

Renovate. Generally, turf may be renovated if at least 50 percent of the area has the desired turf. If turf cover is less than 50 percent, then reestablishment will be necessary.

For more information about controlling moss, email [email protected] or call 770-254-2620. Ask for the UGA Extension publication, “Controlling Moss & Algae in Turf”.

The University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences is an equal opportunity, Affirmative Action, Veteran, Disability Institution.

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