Why is There Moss in My Lawn?

By Brian Mounts | Feb 15, 2020
Why is There Moss in My Lawn

A lot of people that I know come to me for lawn-related advice. One of the questions I get frequently asked is “Why is There Moss in My Lawn?” It seems like there would be a pretty complex reason behind it- but that’s not the case at all!

In fact, there are only a few simple reasons that might be there behind the fact that you’re having moss in your lawn. And it’s really easy to figure them out. Turf Mechanic aims to help you find out what’s happening with your lawn and what’s the best idea to deal with it. So, let’s check out the main reasons as to why you might be having moss in your lawn!

What is Moss?

Mosses are non-floral plants that grow densely in locations that are damp and shady. These plants have  pretty high rate of growth and reproduction, which means once you have them in your lawn, they will keep increasing their boundaries until they inhabit all the places that are inhabitable for them. Quoting Wikipedia:

Mosses are small flowerless plants that typically grow in dense green clumps or mats, often in damp or shady locations. The individual plants are usually composed of simple leaves that are generally only one cell thick, attached to a stem that may be branched or unbranched and has only a limited role in conducting water and nutrients. Although some species have conducting tissues, these are generally poorly developed and structurally different from similar tissue found in vascular plants.[3] Mosses do not have seeds and after fertilisation develop sporophytes with unbranched stalks topped with single capsules containing spores. They are typically 0.2–10 cm (0.1–3.9 in) tall, though some species are much larger. Dawsonia, the tallest moss in the world, can grow to 50 cm (20 in) in height.

Why is There Moss in My Lawn?

Now, there are several reasons as to moss might exist in your lawn. However, as I remarked earlier, these are fairly simple causes and there’s nothing too complex about them. So, in all honesty, you don’t really have to be too worried. So, the main reasons might be summed up in the following points:

  • Faulty Lawn-Care: Faulty lawn care might be a pretty major reason behind actually having a moss problem. If you mow the lawn too close, you might actually end up scalping it. Again, faulty mowing might also make the lawn uneven. Again your laziness might also be the cause- for example, infrequent grass cutting and even not removing the leaves in autumn might actually help the growth of moss in your lawn. So, one of the first things you need to keep in mind is that you must care about your lawn. Not doing so properly is often one of the main reasons behind the development of moss in your lawn.
  • Shade: One of the leading reasons behind the growth of moss in your lawn is that your lawn might be covered in shade. Shady places are really favorable for the growth of moss, and that’s precisely why your shady lawn becomes a great place for them to thrive. So, if you have a shady lawn, that seems to be one of the main reasons why you might be having a moss problem! Quoting NC Cooperative Extension,

keep in mind that a deeply shaded area (less than 4 hours of full sun per day) is too shady for any type of grass to grow. If the area is too heavily shaded, you may have to decide which you would prefer, the trees/shrubs or the lawn. If you choose to keep the trees/shrubs you can cover the area under the trees with a 3-inch layer of mulch.

  • Nature of Soil: Clayey soil, or the soil that can retain a lot of water, is often a good place for mosses to thrive in. Soil which hold a lot of water or where water stands is often the place where we find mosses. Again, a lot of people believe that Acidity in soil is one of the factors that really help the growth of moss. And that’s what some of the treatments are based on, by actually making the soil alkaline instead. However, some people have recently said that this is not a valid reason. Quoting GardenMyths:

Moss does prefer to grow in acidic soil, but it will grow just fine in alkaline soil. Part of my lawn is shady, wet and has a pH of 7.4. Moss grows much better than grass in that area. The picture above is a 4 foot high limestone  bolder that is covered in moss – it is certainly not acidic.

The common advice of liming the soil will make it less acidic is done properly, but it will not get rid of moss. Liming can actually make the situation worse. Unless you know for sure that your soil is too acidic for growing grass, do not add lime.

  • High level of precipitation: As we remarked earlier, one of the main factors that help the growth of moss is moisture. And that’s precisely where precipitation comes into play- it’s the factor that provides moisture! Naturally, this moisture can be in different forms, and so there are quite a few things you might want to consider. Rainfall, overall climate of a region, snowfall, overall precipitation in the form of dew, all of these factors are really important and must be considered. Only then can one get an idea about the level of precipitation at a certain location.
  • Air Circulation: Only precipitation isn’t enough to make a place damp, the air circulation must also be considered. Places with proper air circulation don’t really get damp easily, and you might not find mosses there. However, places where air circulation is poor can easily become damp, and mosses might spring up there. So, try to find out which part of your lawn is facing a comparatively lower level of air circulation, and you might just find some moss waiting for you there- after all, moss does love dampness!
See my full grass growing guide here for more helpful tips – no opt-in needed.

How to Avoid the Growth of Moss in Your Lawn

The Growth of lawn, depends to a large extent, on the overall conditions prevalent in your lawn. We already took a look at the main factors that decide weather moss would like to be in your lawn or not. However, there is one thing that we can’t stress on enough: actually taking care of your lawn.

If you don’t take care of your lawn properly, you might actually be helping moss to grow there! Alternatively, if you do it properly, you might be able to prevent the growth of moss even in slightly unfavorable conditions. So, doing it properly is the most essential part of your job here! Quoting LawnSmith:

As can be seen from the above, moss can grow in your lawn in quite a wide variety of conditions. The more suitable the conditions however, does not always mean more moss because lawn care practices can have the greater influence. A lawn scalped once a month with dull blades may well have moss even if it’s in a sunny dry location! The reverse may be true for a well maintained but slightly shady lawn.

Therefore, a lawn in an ideal environment with good lawn care practices will have little or no moss. The fact of the matter is that in this situation the grass thrives and the moss doesn’t get a look in. It is only when conditions turn against the grass such as permanent shade or mowing abuse that the grass is weakened and allows moss to take a hold.

Turf Mechanic is here for you!

We are really grateful that you took your time to read this article till the very end. We really hope that you could learn of something new that you would be able to apply in your lawn. And, we also hope that you would finally be able to get the perfect lawn that you’ve been dreaming of. Work hard without losing sight of your dreams, and you will surely achieve it!

We understand that you might still want to ask us a few questions- and we look forward to that. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any queries, we are always eager to hear from you. We are always on the lookout for opportunities to help you with the best information we can! So, please do not hesitate in reaching out to us if there’s anything at all that you want to discuss with us.

Once again, we thank you for reading this article till the very end. Until we’re back, we here at Turf Mechanic wish you a great day! Till then, you might want to check out our other articles, here are a few to get started with: