Lawn and disorder

A bit of hard work will rid a lawn of invading moss, writes David Overend.

How to cultivate the perfect lawn

Moss or grass? Judging from the state of many lawns, the answer is moss, and it seems to be a growing problem.

If your lawn is infested with the stuff, then now’s the time to tackle it. It will stand its ground, but perseverance should pay off – eventually.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

During the cold, wet winter, moss gets just the right conditions to encourage it to grow, while the grass sleeps on. 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 there’s a forecast for rain, 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.

For a really quick job, cover the affected area with a thin layer of Miracle-Gro Patch Magic. It’s a mixture of grass seed, coir compost and long-lasting lawn food to help new grass establish itself.

Some lawns are so badly infested with moss that it’s probably better to dig them up and start all over again with fresh turf or seed.