Like a cat, the lawn was steadily working its way through its nine lives, currently on its second sowing due to a previous infestation with moss. Now, unfortunately, the dreaded moss had returned with a vengeance. Was it time for the lawns next reincarnation? Yes, it probably was. Lawn Moss receives a lot of stick from us gardeners; however, the moss is actually a symptom of more serious underlying problems. If you sort out these problems, then you can tackle the moss permanently.
There are four main underlying problems, each with their corresponding solution.
Poor soil and poor soil handling.Start with good quality topsoil such as a loam soil containing sand, silt and clay. If you sow grass seed into heavy clay soil then drainage may be slow, allowing moss to flourish. Loam soil is readily available bagged in garden centres for the preparation of small lawns. Ensure no rain occurs when you are spreading soil and raking during the preparation of a lawn. This will prevent creating a pan in the soil (a layer of smeared soil or subsoil that water cannot drain through).
Whilst raking the lawn to an acceptable level, leave any stones the size of a one-euro coin or smaller to aid drainage, this is the enemy of moss.
Shade.Shade will stop light, which in turn weakens grass. Weak grass allows moss to colonise bare patches. Shade can also cause constantly wet soil, which never gets the chance to dry with the rays of the sun. The solution would be to remove causes of shade where possible.
If shade still exists, try sowing a specially produced shade seed mix or omit lawn sowing in that area.
Incorrect or worse, no feeding.Whilst mowing you remove blades of grass, which must regrow. It is very important that you keep the strength of your grass up so it can regrow and battle over the moss. The solution is to fertilise the lawn 3 times a season, with the first feed in early March using a spring/summer fertiliser or 3 in 1 weed/feed/moss-killer. Continue with a similar second feed at the end of May.
Finally, apply an autumn fertiliser in early September.
Incorrect cutting.Cutting the lawn too high will encourage trailing moss while cutting the lawn too low will encourage cushion moss.
The solution is to cut every five days to a height of 3cm or 1-¼ inches to enable a thick moss supressing grass sward to develop.
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