Moss on lawn - Knowledgebase Question

oxford, Mi
Question by mashleyb
August 12, 2010
We live in Michigan and just moved into our first home. The house has the sun rise in the back and sets in the front. We have noticed a dried greenish mossy/mold on the soil under are very dead lawn. what can we do to get rid of it? is that the reason for our dead grass? We are first time home buyers..aka completely clueless!


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Answer from NGA
August 12, 2010

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Moss is a symptom of several things: too much shade, poor drainage, compacted soil, acidic soil. If you can address each of these causes, you can eliminate moss from your lawn. If you have a lot of shade, grass won't grow well (except when first sodded) and will become thin and more vulnerable to weeds and moss. Limbing up nearby trees or thinning out the canopies might supply more sunlight to the area. Poor drainage is usually caused by clay soils or those that are compacted due to heavy foot traffic. Amending clay soils (to a depth of 4-5") and aerating every few years will give your lawn a better opportunity to drain well. Aeration can be done with a machine you can rent at most garden centers. The machine pulls 1/2" by 3" plugs out of the ground. You can leave the plugs where they lay and they will break down over a period of several weeks. After plugging you can sprinkle sand on the lawn. The sand will work its way down into the holes left from the plugs and will help improve the drainage and compaction problem. Acidic soils can promote the growth of moss so you might want to have your soil tested. If it is 6.0 or below you can spread lime over your lawn in the fall. It will break down over the winter months and help sweeten the soil. There are moss killers on the market but you'll find that the moss will turn black when it?s killed and you'll need to rake it out anyway, so I always suggest foregoing the moss killers and simply raking the moss out. After raking you can aerate the lawn as above and then reseed the bare areas. This fall you can address the problem with acidity by spreading lime.

If you put your lawn on a regular feeding schedule, you'll have fewer moss problems. Start fertilizing in April with a 3-1-2 ratio of NPK (the 3 numbers on the bag of fertilizer). Apply one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn per year. Feed again in June, September and late November or early December. This should help. Best wishes with your lawn!

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