Gardening courses 2024

Dealing with a Mossy Lawn – the organic way.

I frequently get asked for advice about lawn moss and how to get rid of it. It’s a common question because it’s a common problem!

The first step to understanding lawn care is a lesson in reality. A perfect lawn is not achieved without the addition of chemicals, plus a lot of hard work. If the idea of chemicals and/or hard work is unappealing, then you need to accept your lawn for what it is and remove “perfect lawn” from your to-do list.

There is a lot to be said for this approach, particularly in respect to the application of chemicals. The product used to kill moss is often referred to as “lawn sand” It’s not actually sand, but ferrous sulphate, plus or minus other weed killers and nitrogen based fertilizers. It’s not nice stuff and you need to stay off your lawn until the chemicals have been washed through by the rain. It’s also not nice for the creatures that live in the lawn, or the animals that feed off them and of course, eventually these chemicals enter the water table.  The moss-killing effect is not long lasting, and to manage moss in this way, requires repeated applications – the moss will always come back.

Moss loves the damp and Lindfield soil is damp. Therefore, any long- term attempt to reduce moss needs to deal first with drainage issues.

Drainage can be improved in 2 ways:

By installing a drainage system

A drainage system consists of a series of buried, perforated pipes that collect ground water and channel it away from your lawn, usually to a hole or ditch. It is by far the best way to reduce damp garden issues but it is a very expensive option.  If you are considering re-turfing your lawn, then this is a good time to consider such a system.

The other option is much less expensive but much more aerobic!

Aerating your lawn

Aeration, as the name suggests, is the process of getting more air into the lawn. The process involves creating lots of open channels in the lawn which is done with a garden fork or a hollow-tine aerator.

Firstly, you need to rake out all the moss using a lawn rake. Once you have removed the moss, you can start aerating the lawn.

You need to perforate the surface to 8-10cm deep, covering the whole lawn area. The open channels help the water drain away, thus reducing dampness, and the tendency for puddles to form during prolonged rain fall.

If you are feeling really enthusiastic, brushing sharp sand into the drainage holes will finish the job nicely.

Raking and aerating are seriously hard work, but fortunately, there are mechanical devises available that will take the strain off your back – possibly a worthwhile purchase, considering the cost of physiotherapy, and the considerable boredom factor of raking, raking, raking…….

 mossrake1.jpg      moss-hollowtiine.jpg   moss5.jpg

Following raking and aerating, the lawn will look pretty threadbare, but the extra space created will encourage the grass to grow into it. A feed of blood, fish and bone (an organic alternative to lawn feeds) will help the grass on its way. If the lawn is left looking particularly sparse, then you may need to over-seed it.

I am not a lawn enthusiast, but I do periodically put some effort in, as it does pay off.  

Best time to deal with mossy lawns: Early to mid-spring or autumn when the ground is dry.