Moss is a pervasive species of plant that evolved an astounding 200 million years before flowering plants, including grass. Unfortunately, this has given moss an edge, and it easily enjoys dominating other plants like the grass in your yard. Moss is unique in Kingdom Plantae; moss grows without roots, sustaining itself by taking in all nutrients and sunlight through the leaf. Moss also possess the ability to rehydrate after a drought, making it hardier and more versatile than most plants.
While fascinating, moss is typically an unwelcome sight in your yard. If you’re looking for a picturesque lawn, nothing ruins it faster than a moss infestation.
WHY DOES MOSS GROW IN MY YARD SO WELL?
While not damaging to your lawn, a moss infestation will compete for space in your yard and will always win unless action is taken against it. Moss grows best in damp and shady environments, so anywhere on your lawn that gets less sun and too much moisture can grow moss. Lawns in damper climes are significantly more prone to growing moss, wreaking havoc on the yards of homeowners.
Whether you’re looking for a backyard oasis or curbside appeal, a mossy lawn is an eyesore and a difficult problem to tackle.
WHY DOES MOSS GROW IN MY YARD WHEN THE LAWN ISN’T HEALTHY?
If your lawn is unhealthy, you are also at a higher chance for prevalent moss growth. The less healthy your yard, the harder it must work to compete with the outbreak. If you’re growing moss instead of grass, you need to look at the health of your lawn, specifically the moisture level. If you’re wondering “why does moss grow in my yard” consider the health of the grass.
Common reasons your lawn is in poor health, and thus losing its battle against moss include:
- Too Much Moisture – Any area that is waterlogged or oversaturated, even by a little, is at risk for moss.
- Compaction – While dormant during winter, areas of your yard can experience compaction, where the ground is compressed and packed tight. Compaction also develops in high-traffic areas.
- Shade – A bit of moisture and a lack of sun create a perfect environment for moss. You might have too many trees and bushes in these areas.
- Malnourishment – If your lawn is lacking in the proper nutrients, its grass variety requires, malnutrition ensues, and your entire yard suffers.
- Thatch and Leaves – Leaving heavy thatch and decaying leaves on your lawn deprives the roots of sunlight and nutrients, decreasing your yard’s health.
- Stress – Too much and too little of anything can overstress your lawn. The wrong fertilizer, herbicide, and harsh mowing practices can destroy a typically healthy yard.
WHY DOES MOSS GROW IN MY YARD AND HOW DO I IMPROVE ITS HEALTH?
- If there is too much moisture in specific areas, try adding adequate drainage and repairing broken sprinklers.
- To fix compaction, aerate your lawn in the spring and throughout the summer and fall when needed. You can rent an aerating machine or use aerating shoes to work on smaller areas.
- If there is too much shade, consider removing excess trees or bushes blocking the sun.
- Malnourishment is easily fixed by learning the needs of your grass variety and feeding it the proper fertilizer at the correct time of year.
- Dethatch your lawn at the beginning of every growing season. Thoroughly rake the thatch off the grass and dispose of properly. This opens up the roots to sun, water, and nutrients.
- Avoid overstressing your lawn by choosing the right kind and amount of fertilizer, avoiding harsh herbicides and other chemicals, and mowing less than 1/3 of the blade at a time. Most lawn mowers nip off the top 1/3rd, but too harsh of a cut creates a less-hardy and less-healthy lawn.
WHY DOES MOSS GROW IN MY YARD AND HOW DO I KILL IT?
There are fertilizers designed to combat moss and create a greener yard. Try a liquid application fertilizer with higher levels of iron. Scarification is another great way to treat moss. By physically removing the moss, you’re not preventing it from growing back, but you are giving your grass a fighting chance.