Controlling moss in lawns

Credit: Flickr / Feltbug


Q: We live in Victoria and hired a fellow to do some work for us in the yard this year. He took it upon himself to kill the moss and applied some kind of awful stuff (a kind of sulfur compound) which turned all the moss black. He assured me it would disappear in no time and proceeded to apply another treatment. Now, not only the moss but most of the grass is black – our yard looks like a war zone. I’m sick about it. What should I do?

Moss is an ongoing problem in Metro Vancouver and Island lawns due to the fact that we receive so much rainfall on a continual basis, particularly through the winter months. Moisture filtering through our lawns and soil slowly assists in lowering the soil pH, which is detrimental to a healthy lawn. Moist conditions and low pH make for perfect conditions for moss to thrive.

Organic lime is essential on an annual basis at any time of the year as part of the moss-control process. Lime will correct the low pH of the soil.

The next step—usually applied in the spring months—is a moss-control product. Use a moss-control product containing the safe-to-use Ferrous sulphate (iron) to kill moss. After it turns black and dies, the moss will dehydrate and pull away from the lawn, making it easy to rake out. Once the dead moss is removed you should immediately fertilize the lawn area, as now that the moss is no longer competing for the space, the lawn roots will start to send out new growth. Having nutrition available will assist in the healthy recovery of the lawn. Additionally, aerating the lawn and topdressing with a coarse sand every second or third year will help to strengthen a lawn and reduce annual moss infestation.