Gardening Advice

Get Rid of Moss in Lawn & Prevent Reappearance

Lukassek /

Moss is not really a weed, but it can grow in thick patches that, at some point, can start to suffocate your lawn. And since maintaining a healthy lawn can be hard work as it is, you probably don’t need the extra complication. So, we are here to help you understand better what moss is, how it affects your lawn and how to get rid of it without difficulties.

In this article you’ll learn:

What is moss?

Mosses are part of the parent group of bryophytes. It looks similar and, therefore, can be easily mistaken for two of the other members of this family – hornworts and liverworts. Moss species are usually all green, consisting of stems and leaves with no flowers. They can develop big clumps, especially in shady, moist-rich areas which are favoured by most types of Australian moss variations but not by the regular lawn grass.

What can cause moss in the lawn?

While moss is often purposefully used for decoration around the garden, its appearance in the lawn may not be a good sign. It could signal a more serious problem, such as soil compaction or lack of nutrients. Still, moss acts pretty much like any other lawn weed – it feeds, grows and spreads and will continue to do it until it’s stopped.

Most common causes for moss growing in lawns:

  • Insufficient sunlight makes moss thrive and can weaken the grass.
  • Highly acidic soil is favoured by moss, but some species will grow just fine in alkaline soil, too. Turfgrass, on the other hand, usually prefers a more neutral soil.
  • Poor soil drainage can most commonly result from clay dominating the soil’s composition, but regardless, this can easily lead to the ground’s compaction.
  • Improper lawn maintenance like mowing the grass way too low, skipping on nourishing with fertiliser or repairing the lawn through overseeding.
  • Weak or missing lawn grass – Some of the previously mentioned factors could be responsible for thinning blades or entire “bald” patches appearing in the lawn. The former are often overtaken by moss, which establishes quickly and starts spreading as the grass lingers.
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How to get rid of the moss in your lawn

Controlling the moss that grows in the turf is not that tough of a job, so you can try and deal with it on your own. You will discover several moss removal techniques, and you can pick just one or try several at once.

Try a natural moss killing solution

If the idea of introducing herbicides to your lawn does not seem attractive, there could be a relatively safer alternative. We suggest you mix the following ingredients in a spray bottle to create a natural moss killing agent to use now and in the future, if the moss reappears:

  • 1 tsp of baking soda or 1 tsp of mild dishwashing detergent
  • 1 l of lukewarm water

These are the ingredients to tackle relatively small moss-covered areas. You can double or even triple the amounts if the invasive plant has spread throughout your entire lawn.

It’s best to apply the solution in dry and sunny weather. Otherwise, the rain may wash away the solution before it has time to kill the moss. Aim to spray only the invasive plant.

The minimum time this homemade moss killer requires is 24 hours, but the most telling sign of success is the change in colour of the plant – from green to yellow or brown. When you are sure the moss is dead, pull it out from the root, place it in a bag and throw it out a solid distance away from your lawn.

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Get a moss killing herbicide

Another fairly safe way to eradicate the moss without harming the grass is to bet on a specialised killing agent. The most commonly used option is an iron-rich product that can control the spread of different moss varieties as long as it’s applied correctly. You can check for one in the local gardening store and use it according to the instructions.

If the plant starts turning yellow or brown, this means that the moss killer you chose is working, and the plant is dying. Usually, such products are not harmful for the grass. In fact, they can enrich the soil with iron, which can be beneficial for your lawn.

Still, keep a watchful eye on the grass surrounding the treated area for signs of discolouration, in which case you should stop applying the product.

Limit the treatment with the moss killer to the lawn only. While the iron sulphate won’t damage your lawn, it may cause a reaction with concrete and other material used on driveways, pathways and others, leaving rust spots.


This is the process of removing both moss, thatch and other unwanted organic matter suffocating the lawn. Thatch mainly consists of dead leaves’ material, and just like moss, larger thatch build-ups can be bad for your lawn’s health. The thicker the thatch gets over time, the more it prevents the normal distribution of water and nutrients to the grass roots, resulting in sickly-looking turf.

There are several options when it comes to detaching the lawn:

  • Manual scarification – This is the simplest and least stressful for the lawn approach, but also the more laborious one. You will have to manually collect the moss and thatch with the help of a rake or by hand. This can be a suitable alternative for smaller moss clumps, however, you may find the following option easier when you have a bigger lawn or the moss has already spread significantly.
  • Machine scarification – Scarifying machines are powered either by electricity or petrol. They look similar to the regular lawnmower and can save you significant time in eradicating the moss. However, there are a few important steps you need to take before using the machine. First, it is recommended to kill the moss in advance to prevent moss spores from spreading to unaffected areas of the turf. The second step is to mow the grass at a lower setting when the weather is nice. Finally, you can go over your lawn with the machine. Its blades will go deep into the soil and pull out the moss, roots and all.

These are the main two DIY lawn scarification options. However, if you don’t feel like buying or renting the equipment or you face a major moss infestation, then there is a third solution.

Entrusting the task in the hands of a professional lawn care specialist can bring you positive and permanent results in a short period of time. Using this option will also present you with the opportunity to share any other lawn issues you may have and receive an expert’s advice.

Want a professional lawn scarification? Get in touch and we will discuss an appointment!

Raise the soil’s pH level

Like we’ve already mentioned, problems with the turf’s soil could be contributing to the moss’ growth and further spread. In case you haven’t been paying much attention to the soil’s pH’s level so far, it’s time to look into it.

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Normally, the so-called “neutral” and often most preferred type of soil is close to 6.5 – 7. Anything below or above this is considered subsequently as acidic and alkaline soil. We already mentioned that moss grows well in acidic soil and you can quickly and easily determine whether yours fall under that category with a pH test kit.

If the test proves the turf’s soil to be on the acidic side, don’t fret, as there are corrective measures you can take. Lime and dolomite are two of the favoured products for raising a soil’s pH level. The difference is that lime acts a bit quicker than dolomite. However, whichever you pick, arm yourself with patience as it could still take more than a month or two until the powder breaks down and gets into the soil.

Moss can also be popping up in your lawn because the soil is running low on nutrients. In this case, a simple fertilising could be done, preferably with a fast-releasing fertiliser which can start working immediately.

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Provide access to direct sunlight

We’ve already established that too much moisture and not enough sunlight are bad for the grass, and this applies even to shade-tolerant grasses like Sir Walter Buffalo and Zoysia grass. So, what can you do about it? For starters, you can inspect the vegetation in proximity to your lawn.

Overgrown trees and bushes that are casting a shade over the grass will have to be trimmed, which will prove beneficial for both your lawn and the trees and bushes. You can use the occasion to identify and prune away any dead or diseased branches, which might be taking up space and serve no purpose.

Do this regularly, so there is no chance of the trees overgrowing and blocking your lawn’s vital sunlight. You will soon discover that opening up space for more air and light will reinvigorate not just your turf but your surrounding shrubs and trees, as well.

Preventing moss from returning to the lawn

Removing moss is important and will improve your lawn’s health and looks, but making sure that you do everything possible to stop it from growing back is just as important. So, in this line of thought, let’s see what to do to keep the moss away:

  • Don’t skip on vital lawn maintenance tasks – Watering and mowing is basic lawn care, but there is much more you can do to improve the condition of the turf and reduce the chance of weeds appearing. Feeding the lawn up to two times per year is one of them. Overseeding can help eliminate any bald patches, which create openings for the moss to get in. Top-dressing can fix uneven terrains in your turf and nourish the topsoil of the lawn for better growth. If you still haven’t included these in your lawn maintenance checklist, start adding them.
  • Adjust lawn care according to the season – Timing is essential for the effectiveness of all of the previously mentioned tasks. For instance, in winter you need to start mowing less often and lower, as well as reduce watering to a minimum to avoid soaking the turf. This will guarantee a stress-free transition for your lawn to next season. This will also reduce the chances of moss appearing due to heavy moisture remaining trapped in the soil. There is a risk of the latter happening in other seasons, especially if the soil is prone to waterlog.
  • Don’t overlook soil compaction issues – Speaking of waterlogged soil, we cannot mention the other related issue – compaction. If you notice that the turf’s ground is often soaked with water for days, then there is probably a drainage problem. You can try amending that by spiking the lawn (also referred to as aeration) and then spreading gypsum. Finish the procedure by raking the turf and waiting for the gypsum to dissolve.

When is the best time to kill the lawn moss?

Late autumn and spring are the two most suitable times to tackle the moss growing in your lawn.

Autumn is a good time to get rid of the plant for two reasons. The following winter brings colder weather with reduced sunlight and rain, which are favourable conditions for the moss to develop and thrive. On the other hand, winter is when your lawn becomes dormant and vulnerable, so it’s best to take care of the moss intruder before the arrival of colder weather.

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Spring is the other time of the year when you can kill the moss. Mainly because this will guarantee a strong weed-free start for your turf, which needs extra care to recuperate from its winter sleep. Also, just like autumn, spring is the other busy season for lawn owners when essential maintenance tasks like scarification, fertilising, aeration and more can be done.

Give a professional lawn care a try!

We can take care of the mowing, weeding and other lawn maintenance tasks!

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  • Moss is not considered a weed, but it will act just like one when it is settled in your turf.
  • Soil problems, lack of sunlight and incorrect lawn care are mainly the causes for the moss’ appearance.
  • Scarification, homemade or specialised moss killer, soil amendments and good maintenance of the lawn’s surroundings could reduce and even eliminate completely a moss infestation.
  • Correctly planned and done lawn care is key to preventing the moss’ return.
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