How to Kill Moss in Lawns

It looks nice and green, but it could be smothering your grass.

Got the green fuzzies in your yard? You've got moss! At first, you might not see it. After all, it’s green. But when you look more closely, perhaps you notice that shady part of your lawn has turned into fuzz. Moss may look nice on rocks and trees, but in lawns it means trouble. Controlling moss in the lawn starts with understanding why you have moss growing in the first place.

What Is Moss?

Moss is a shallow-rooted plant that spreads by spores and root-like structures called rhizoids. It loves to grow during the gray, wet days of late fall and early spring. Moss won’t overtake or kill your lawn, but instead will fill in the spaces where the lawn is thin. If your lawn is struggling and you have moss filling in the gaps, it’s a good indication that you have a deeper problem, such as compacted soil, poor drainage, low soil pH, or not enough sunlight.

 

How to Control Moss

Iron-based moss control products, such as Scotts® MossEX™ or Scotts® Turf Builder® with Moss Control which also feeds the lawn, are very effective at controlling moss. As with most moss controls, these products are most effective when applied while moss is actively growing, which is usually during the cool, wet spring and fall. Before applying, mow the area short and remove the clippings to expose the moss. Shortly after treatment, the moss will turn black and die.

 

How to Prevent Moss from Returning

Control of moss requires more than just killing off the existing moss in the lawn. The best way to prevent moss from returning is to correct the underlying reason the moss began growing in the first place.

  1. If areas of the lawn are receiving less than 3 hours of sunlight per day, trim tree branches to allow more sunlight to reach the lawn. For areas of the lawn that only receive 6 to 8 hours of filtered sunlight or 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight, plant a shade-tolerant grass.
  2. Good lawn practices will help your lawn grow thick and keep moss at bay. Feed regularly and mow at the highest recommended height for your grass type to encourage deep rooting.
  3. Moss grows better than grass in wet, poorly drained soils. Aerate compacted soils and incorporate rich, composted material, like Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Soil™, to help improve drainage. Only water the lawn when necessary — just one inch of water per week is all most lawns need.
 

How to Control Moss on Hard Surfaces

Moss will also grow on hard surfaces, especially in shady, damp areas of the yard. While they won’t damage the surface they’re growing on, they can make patios, steps, porches, and sidewalks slippery. Apply a product that is safe for use on hard surfaces, like Scotts® MossEX™ 3-in-1 Ready-Spray®, which kills moss, algae, and lichens without staining.

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