Moss and mushrooms on my lawn - Knowledgebase Question

Baltimore, Ma
Question by toosweet41
August 26, 2010
What can I use to treat my lawn from moss and mushrooms before next summer?


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Answer from NGA
August 26, 2010

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Moss in the lawn 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. 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.

If the mushrooms are random or scattered rather than in a circle, they are probably growing because there's something underground that's decomposing. Usually an old tree stump, tree roots, or even leftover wood from construction are causes for mushrooms growing on the soil surface. An excessive amount of thatch can also encourage mushroom growth. Mushrooms can also be a result of poor nutrition and poor drainage in your lawn. Rake to remove the mushrooms, then put your lawn on a regular maintenance schedule. You may need to aerate the lawn to remove decomposing thatch and help with the compaction problem. Fertilize four times a year with a 3-1-2 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, applying one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn per year. Be sure to water regularly so the lawn will grow thick enough to crowd out (or hide) the mushrooms.

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