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Let’s learn about lawn moss


Moss grows all around us from roofs, walls, pavements, and rocks to bottom of lakes and ponds; not forgetting our lawns! It can be beautiful in the right setting as it cloaks a forest floor or wraps itself around a tree. However, these small flowerless plants are less attractive when growing in the wrong places - like our gardens and on our lawns.

But what is moss? 

There are over 10,000 different moss species in the world, and the UK is home to 600 of them! Most are found in natural areas but there are several different types that can grow in our lawns. 

Moss is a non-flowering plant that produce spores and have stems and leaves, but don’t have true roots. Moss is attached to the surfaces from which they grow by tiny structures called rhizoids. Moisture is essential to moss survival, so it thrives in damp/shady conditions. Moss is considered a nuisance and a weed due to its negative impact to lawns; if left to spread, it can take over the grass. 

Though moss spreads easily and can grow on all soil types, its presence doesn’t mean a lawn is doomed! Moss can be eradicated/prevented if the conditions favourable to its growth are removed.

Why does it grow in lawns and how can we stop it? 

  • One of the main culprits of moss is excess moisture in the lawn. Moss thrives in wet soils with poor surface drainage or excess wet weather - Aeration can help with this. It creates open spaces in the soil – greatly assisting drainage and prevents waterlogged conditions on the lawn surface. 
  • Compacted soil allows moss to take over – Aeration can also help relieve this. 
  • Excess thatch can aid moss growth. Moss loves thatch – it stores a lot of moisture, creating the ideal condition in which moss grows. Scarification is the best way to remove thatch and dehydrate moss. 
  • Shade – lawn moss thrives in all-day shade. The solution is to simply increase direct sunlight; remove fallen leaves and other debris from the lawn, trim back branches, overhanging shrubs etc. 
  •  A scalped lawn allows moss to take over, it weakens the grass plants and makes it more susceptible to moss invasion. We recommend you never cut the lawn less than 1’’ in height. 
  •  An unhealthy lawn will struggle to compete with moss. Our Autumn/Winter Long treatment encourages a much stronger lawn that also dehydrates moss. 

Moss is also found on: 

  • Worn/overused areas: especially along walkways and where children play
  • New-build lawns: sometimes due to poor site preparation
  • Established lawns: usually due to poor health/stresses to the grass plant
  • Tree roots: many people have trees in the garden - when larger roots grow close to the soil surface, the grass is prevented from having sufficient soil - this causes moss to develop and grow on top of the roots. 

Why is lawn moss a problem? 

Moss not only impacts a lawn appearance but can also affect its health. How? 

  • Grass has to compete with moss for growing space
  • If untreated, moss will die off in summer (due to low moisture levels) but leave unsightly bald patches
  • Roots are less able to receive essential water and nutrients
  • Uneven colour and surface – lawn is spongy underfoot
  • Moss can cause soil erosion by providing surface cover and absorbing water
  • Moss creates a locally humid environment and in turn, a home for invertebrates such as slugs
  • Some birds tug moss from lawns, hoping to find tasty creatures underneath – causing patches and also encouraging the spread of moss in other parts of the lawn

How can GreenThumb help? 

A good lawn maintenance programme is essential in managing moss. Simply raking out/removing moss will not prevent regrowth unless the conditions favourable to its growth are changed. 

All your treatments throughout the year will have contributed greatly to a long-lasting, beautiful lawn, even throughout winter.

Our Autumn/Winter Long treatment improves lawn strength; being rich in iron, it makes lawns greener as well as better able to cope with adverse conditions. And of course, helping to manage moss! 

For expert advice on what else you can do to prevent/reduce moss, speak to your local GreenThumb branch: www.greenthumb.co.uk/branch.


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