Dealing with moss

Posted: Monday 31 March 2014
by Adam Pasco

Thanks to the relentless wet weather of winter, my lawn now boasts almost more moss than grass. It's time to take action.

Thanks to the relentless wet weather of winter, my lawn now boasts almost more moss than grass. It's time to take action.

If moss is left in place, it'll simply smother and stifle any grass trying to grow, now that conditions are warming up. I'm in two minds as to whether simply raking out all the existing moss is enough, or whether I should apply moss killer first and then rake out the dead, blackened moss.

Just raking out the moss is certain to leave a few small pieces of it, and these could start growing and spreading, especially if the weather becomes both warm and damp. Applying a chemical moss killer knocks the problem on the head (so to speak). By choosing a lawn care product containing fertiliser and herbicide, you can kill moss and weeds at the same time as feeding any grass that remains. Perhaps that's the best solution.

Next comes choosing the best way to actually remove moss. Now, if I was looking for a bit of a workout I certainly couldn't find better exercise than raking out moss by hand. For small lawns this can be quite rewarding, and any green moss collected can even be saved for lining hanging baskets. How's that for recycling?

For large lawns, a helping hand from a powered lawn rake or scarifier is probably a better option. It's amazing how much moss and thatch a powered rake can remove. However, these machines are very powerful, and if you're over-zealous it's easy to remove all the grass as well as moss.

In any case, I usually follow-up a good scarification with some over-seeding with fresh grass seed to fill gaps and thicken growth. Not all grass seed is the same, so check what's available to choose the best grass seed mix for the lawn you're trying to create, from luxurious sward to hard-wearing football pitch.

Perhaps I should count my blessings that moss hasn't spread into my borders, too. Where soil conditions remain very wet I've seen borders covered with an overcoat of moss. This is a clear indication of very poor surface drainage, and work would then be needed to improve conditions. Simple digging to relieve compaction might help, but extra grit and organic matter should probably be dug deeply down to start improving soil structure and composition.

With moss removed, I suppose I should also do something about the daisies and dandelions, but they look pretty. They can stay as a welcome reminder that, finally, spring is here. Enjoy the new season!

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Jimbolena 31/03/2014 at 21:43


Thanks for the good advice and I've followed most of the steps to a certain point...I was wondering when to scarify the lawn after applying the lawn care. I've had it on the lawn for a few days now?

The lawn at the front of the house gets very little sun until around this time of year till autumn so is damp and like you say, it's been a wet winter. I have scarified it in the past and drained it with a deep fork, this helped loads but this year a neighbour recommended feed and weed, lawn care.

I'm guessing when it goes black then the lawn care has done it's stuff but just not sure.

Dave Morgan 31/03/2014 at 23:07

Yep, moss goes black after treating, now you can scrape it out. Hard work but worth it.

Esspee 31/03/2014 at 23:43

Raking out moss by hand is extremely tedious, better to hire or borrow a scarifier.   Make sure you have loads of bin bags as you shouldn't put treated moss on the compost heap.

Jimbolena 01/04/2014 at 13:33

Thanks for the advice and confirming my thoughts..

Adam Pasco 01/04/2014 at 14:30

Yes, I agree. Treat the lawn with moss killer and it should quickly kill it (and go black) in a matter of days. You can then rake/scarify to remove.

And if you can see lots of gaps and soil I'd recommend over-seeding with grass seed mixed with compost. April is usually a good month to do this, as warmer conditions and April showers encourage seeds to germinate and grow.

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