March onto your lawn and sort out that unsightly moss

Lawn grass makes a valiant attempt to stem the advance of moss.
Lawn grass makes a valiant attempt to stem the advance of moss.
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Judging from the state of many lawns, moss appears to be a growing problem.

If your lawn is infested with the stuff, then March is as good a time as any to try to get to grips with it, although it could turn out to be a never-ending battle. It will stand its ground, but perseverance should pay off – eventually.

During the cold, wet winter, moss gets just the right conditions to encourage it to grow, while the grass goes to sleep. The result is that the vivid green moss can soon overrun and overcome an entire lawn.

There are things that encourage the return of moss to a lawn – poor drainage, heavy shade, a compacted surface and underfeeding will all have an effect. So the battle starts by trying to remove the conditions in which moss flourishes.

Spiking the surface with a garden fork will help to improve drainage and reduce compaction. If this is a big problem, invest in a hollow-tine fork that removes plugs of soil. The resulting holes can be filled with a 50:50 mixture of sharp sand and something like EverGreen Lawn Soil so the holes don’t fill in, but encourage new roots and excellent drainage.

Then it’s time to sort out the starvation problem with a dressing of a proprietary moss control/fertiliser that contains ferrous sulphate to burn off the mosses, and plant foods to green up and invigorate the grass. Apply it when rain is forecast, and after a couple of weeks, the moss should have turned black and died. Rake it off and take it to the tip.

When the moss has been removed there are probably going to be a lot of bald spots on the lawn. So the next job is to re-seed, or, if the problem is serious, to fill the spaces with turf.

And some lawns have been allowed to become so badly infested with moss that it’s probably better to dig them up and start all over again with fresh turf or seed. That’s a pretty big job and not one that many people want to contemplate.

Mown regularly, an infested lawn will remain green, and from a distance it can even look quite attractive. Close-up, it will be pretty unpleasant.