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Moss in my yard!

Moss in my yard; are you kidding me?

Warmer temperatures and sunshine seemed to have arrived, but unfortunately these desirable changes also start the annual battle with weeds in your lawn or garden. My personal battle this year started like this – I sowed some grass seed before the last snow fall and while I was merrily walking behind my spreader I realized that some of the early season weeds like moss, chickweed and hairy bittercrest had invaded my yard! How dare they? Well, I guess I really should not have been surprised as this particular area of my backyard has been overly wet, stays partially shaded and I’ve not aerated the soil in that section. So I decided now it’s time for a plan of action!

Let’s first understand why the moss is there. Moss can be an indicator that I currently have less than ideal conditions for grass to grow and this weed is not the cause of my problems, but more of an effect.

Moss tends to thrive under the following conditions:
• Excessive moisture or poor drainage
• Excessive shade
• Lack of necessary nutrients for grass to thrive
• Acidic soil Ph

MY PLAN OF ACTION –
First, I’ll start by raking the moss out of my yard with a hard tined rake – Moss is shallow rooted and tends to come up easily. A flat shovel can also be used in some situations. An alternative approach is to apply a granular herbicide like Moss Max to kill the Moss. Removing the existing moss is just the first step. If we don’t change the soil, moisture, drainage or shade conditions; moss will likely return much to my dismay.

Side note – Now would be a good time to test the soil Ph. Burger Farm and Garden has simple test kits where you can test your own soil Ph. A low soil Ph or “acidic” condition may indicate the need to “sweeten” the soil and that can be accomplished by adding some garden lime to the soil. The garden lime won’t kill or prevent moss from growing, but can provide a better climate for grass to grow and compete against moss and other weeds.

Secondly, since my area where the moss is growing is next to a fence line where a lot of Rose of Sharon is growing; I’m going to thin out some of this perennial plant to enable more sun light to penetrate the area.

Next, I plan to improve the drainage of the soil in this area and that can be accomplished in a number of ways; by aeration or by adding sand, gypsum or other soil amendments like top soil, composted cow manure or mushroom compost. Because my area is relatively narrow and runs along a fence line; I’m going to break up the top few inches of the soil and rake the area vigorously. I’ll then add some gypsum granules to help promote drainage in this heavily clay soil area and also rake in some composted cow manure with the existing soil.

Finally, I’ll sow some new grass seed in the area along with some lawn starter fertilize and then lightly cover with straw or sphagnum peat moss to help protect the seed and promote germination. We always suggest applying a starter fertilize when seeding grass seed because it provides higher levels of the nutrients required for essential root growth and a vigorous healthy plant.

For the weeds in my yard, I’ll spray with Fertilome’s Weed Free Zone broadleaf weed killer. This is an excellent product to use in the early spring because it can be applied effectively down to 40 degree temperatures unlike other herbicides which require much higher application temperatures. Weed Free Zone won’t hurt your established lawn, but do not spray on any newly planted grass.

Well, that’s my plan on how I’m going to take care of unwanted moss and broadleaf weeds in my own yard this Spring. I hope you found this information useful and maybe you can follow the same plan if you have similar issues in your yard. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to stop by or give us a call at Burger Farm and Garden.