How to get rid of moss in lawns

Moss is a common problem in lawns across Britain. If you want to keep your lawn looking lush and green, then you should take action against moss growth.

Moss grows slowly over time, but it can cause significant damage in a short period of time. It can also ruin your lawn, causing unsightly patches and leaving you with a messy job cleaning up.

Moss is a kind of plant that grows on the ground. It doesn't need sunlight or water. Mosses are often found in shady areas. They help absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil.

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Moss also prevent weeds from growing. Mosses aren't harmful to people or pets. However, if you want to remove moss from your lawn, you must first understand what causes it to grow.

Why does moss grow in my lawn?

The bad news is: if you have moss growing on your lawn, you can be 99% sure it's because of poor conditions , and this needs to be rectified ASAP if you want your lawn to be a) healthy and b) moss-free.

There are many reason why moss appears in your lawn:

1) Low nutrient levels in the soil

You should fertilise your lawn with a good quality fertiliser at least twice per year. A poorly nourished lawn is susceptible to moss, weeds and of course it will look DULL!

2) Poor drainage and damp soil

Rainfall should penetrate deep into your soil and drain freely. Once or twice per year you should use a garden fork to loosen the soil so that water can penetrate down to the roots.

3) Too much shade and too little sunlight.

Sunlight provides life to grass. If your grass isn't chosen for shaded areas it can become weak and susceptible to moss invasion, weeds and other lawn diseases.

4) Overly compacted soil.

Over time your lawn will become compacted. You can prevent this by laying a path across your lawn to prevent walking on it. Using a lawn aerator can also prevent soil compaction.

It's important to note that these conditions are precisely the ones that make it hard to cultivate a moss free lawn. Therefore, one of the best ways to prevent moss is to create conditions where grass can thrive.

While it's rather simple for moss to be removed from your lawn temporarily, it will only come back or require re-treatment unless you identify and correct the underlying conditions favourable to its growth.

When to get rid of the moss?

There really isn't a best time of year to start. If your using chemical products then you should follow the manufacturers guidelines.

Most products will probably advise you to use them between the Spring and Autumn months this allows your grass to rebound quickly rather than killing the moss in the winter and leaving bare patches due to slower grass growth during the winter months.

Personally I would tackle it as quickly as possible, moss left untreated will grow in any season, the longer you leave it the worse it will get.

Controlling moss with chemicals

Moss control products based primarily on iron and naturally occurring substances, such as ferric or iron sulphate, are highly efficient at killing lawn moss by taking up moisture so mosses dry out, turn black and die, there are so many different ways of applying:

1) Iron Sulphate Granules

You can buy a large tub of Iron Sulphate rather cheaply, this white granule product can be diluted or used directly with your lawn:

What you'll need:

Gloves (disposable ones)
A spreader (if treating a large area)
Iron Sulphate
A calm, wind free day

How to apply:

Simply grab a handful of the Iron Sulphate and spread it across the moss. It will get to work right away and within hours or days your moss will blacked and die.

It will also feed your lawn and give your grass a lovely darker shade of green.

2) Spray on with a Spray Bottle

For more accurate dispersal you can use a pump sprayer and dilute the iron sulphate in water.

What you'll need:

A sprayer
Iron sulphate
A calm, wind free day

How to apply:

Fill your sprayer half way up with water and then add the Iron Sulphate (follow the manufacturers directions for dilution rates). Fill your sprayer up to the max level then seal.

At this point you should shake / agitate your sprayer to ensure the Iron Sulphate is evenly dissolved.

Pump your spray bottle and start spraying the treated areas.

If treating a large area a blue dye can be added to ensure you don't miss bits.

3) Fertiliser + Iron Pellets

Kill two birds with one stone! This is similar to the iron sulphate granules but with the added benefit of a fertiliser, you can eliminate that pesky moss and feed your lawn at the same time.

What you'll need:

Fertiliser + Iron Pellets

How to apply:

Simply grab a handful and spread it evenly across your lawn. Most fertilisers will advise you to water the lawn afterwards so that it can dissolve (or you could wait for it to rain)

Naturally get rid of moss in lawns

I know many would prefer not to use chemicals in their lawns luckily there are also many ways you can naturally eliminate lawn moss - be warned they do take much more time & effort!

1) Rake it out

Use good old elbow grease, grab your rake and go to town. This is a great upper body workout so you can probably skip the gym that day.

Be sure to dispose of the moss afterwards (do not compost it).

2) Baking Soda

Applying a mixture made of baking soda and water will make the conditions more acidic, and since moss prefers slightly alkaline conditions, this will help to stop the moss from growing.

This method tends to be effective on small patches of moss, but not on larger areas. And it's natural, so it won't hurt the environment!

Before mixing together a baking soda and water mixture, put on some gloves to prevent skin irritation.

You can apply the solution described below any time of the day, but we recommend applying the solution during the late afternoon when it's dry during the winter or spring.

For small amounts of moss, start with 3 tablespoons of baking soda to 1 litre of water. Pour the mixture in to a spray bottle and spray it generously until the moss is saturated. If the moss doesn’t seem to be responding after one or two days, increase the potency.

For larger patches of moss, we recommend lightly sprinkling dry baking soda over the entire patch(es) and then spray a mixture of 8 tablespoons of baking soda to 1 quart of water. To save time, you can use a garden sprayer to cover large areas.

3) Use dish soap

For small patches, use a garden hand sprayer to mix 70 grams of dish soap with 4 litres of water. Use gentle liquid dishsoap, don't use premium soap, which you'll usually find in grocery stores. For larger areas, use 140 grams of dish soap in 9 litres of water for every 1,000 square feet of lawn.

Spray the mixture on the patches of moss. Holding the spray nozzle about two inches from the target area and spraying the moss with the solution, drench the moss. Don't spray the grass, as it can also kill healthy grass

The patches of moss will turn orange or brown in 24 hours and eventually dry up. Dig up or rake out the dead moss. The dish soap will not kill moss at the roots, so remove as much as possible. The surrounding grass will begin to grow over the patches.

After raking up dead moss, take it somewhere isolated. Don't compost it. The moss spores could spread back to your lawn. If the patches are large you may need to re-seed the area, dish soap will prevent germination of new seeds so be sure to wait a few weeks and top with plenty of top soil.

4) Add garden lime

Unlike baking soda and water, lime doesn't directly kill moss very quickly. Instead, lime helps to balance out the pH of the soil and make it slightly alkaline, and since moss prefers a slightly acidic environment, applying lime regularly over time can help to kill off moss over the course of several months.

How to prevent moss from growing back

So you've defeated the moss, will it come back? Probably, if you don't fix the underlying problems you can be almost certain that the moss will return in the weeks, months or years ahead.

Treatments are almost always temporary. If your lawn is in an overtly shaded area then it may be cheaper and less hassle to just let the moss grow or plant some wild flowers.

Adding gardeners lime during the winter months can make your soil more alkaline and whilst it won't kill moss it will prevent it from growing in the first place by raising the PH of your soil.

Grab a cheap soil PH meter from Amazon or eBay and try to keep your lawn soil between 6 & 7 which is not moss friendly

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About the author 


Hey there, I am founder and editor in chief here at Good Grow. I guess I've always known I was going to be a gardener. I'm on a mission to share my UK based weed control & lawn care tips with you all. If you have any queries please post in the comments below.

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