Moss is one of the lawn lover’s biggest bugbears. Here are our top tips on how to control moss in your lawn.


Moss is one of the lawn lover’s biggest bugbears. Here are our top tips on how to control moss in your lawn.

The secret to controlling moss in your lawn is creating conditions where grass can thrive and outcompete the unwanted plants.  Moss loves damp, shaded conditions with no soil disturbance and little competition from other species. Here’s how to make your lawn unfriendly for moss.

  • Trim back overhanging trees and shrubs
  • Deal with soil compaction so that your lawn drains better
  • Scarify regularly to remove moss and disturb the soil surface
  • Use the best type of grass for the conditions
  • Keep your lawn well fed
  • Raise your mower blades – longer grass is less likely to become moss infested
shaded lawn
Take lower branches off trees and shrubs and choose lower growing plants to allow lots of light into your lawn

Trim back overhanging plants

Moss loves shade – lawn grass isn’t so keen. So it stands to reason that the less shaded your lawn is, the less likely it is to be invaded by moss.

Take the time to trim existing trees and shrubs so that shade is minimised. If you are just building your new garden, choose privacy plants that cast dappled shade rather than deep shade. Silver birch with its feathery leaves is a reasonably lawn-friendly tree.

How to deal with soil compaction?

How do you tell if your lawn is compacted? Push a 15cm screwdriver straight down into the soil.  If it goes in easily, your soil is fine. If it takes quite a lot of pressure to push the whole blade into the soil – you have a problem.

Greenkeepers use a method called aeration to relieve soil compaction. An aerator pierces holes in the soil to allow air and water to improve the structure. Carry out aeration in spring or autumn and if your soil is clay-based, topdress with a sandy soil to get long term benefits.   

How to aerate your lawn    

How to scarify your lawn?

I love scarifying – it’s incredibly satisfying.

Scarifying is another green keeping trick. It removes moss, thatch and dead material from your lawn and gives the grass plants a chance to breathe.

Over time, thatch builds up in your lawn. It’s a natural process – in fact it’s Mother Nature’s way of making more soil. But because a healthy lawn has so many plants per square metre, there’s more debris than worms and beetles can break down.

If you leave the thatch in place, it traps water on the surface of the lawn creating the ideal conditions for moss to breed. Thatch also harbours the micro-organisms that cause lawn diseases so it’s best out of the way.

How to scarify your lawn

How to choose the right type of grass?

There is more than one type of lawn grass. Some are more shade tolerant than others. If your lawn is shaded and therefore prone to moss invasions, using a type of grass that likes lower light levels will help keep the moss at bay.

Once you have scarified your lawn, you could overseed it with something like “Shadesman”. It’s bred from alpine grasses that spend part of their year under snow.

If your lawn is so mossy and compacted that you need to replace it, our Shade Tolerant turf is just the job. It’s slightly more expensive than standard lawn turf but worth every penny.

Order shade tolerant grass seed online

Read our article buying turf for shaded areas  

How to keep your lawn well fed?

Hungry grass is weak grass and a hungry lawn is prone to invasion from weeds, moss and lawn diseases.

Whether your lawn is mossy or not, it deserves a good feed in spring to help it recover from winter and prepare for all the wear and tear of the summer to come.

For mossy lawns, scarify before applying lawn feed.

The Turfonline team recommend Vivid Green lawn feed for use in spring and summer and Rejuvenator for autumn and winter.

Why not buy enough of each to last the whole year? that way you’ve got no excuse for not getting around to feeding your lawn.

Order lawn feed online here  

Mowing your lawn to discourage moss

In the UK we’ve got a habit of mowing our lawns really short – like a bowling green but for the grass plants that’s the equivalent of putting them on a starvation diet. It’s incredibly stressful.  Plants use their leaves to harvest the sun’s rays and make energy food. That enables them to make the most of all the nutrients you’ve put into the soil for them. With longer leaves, your grass plants will grow strong and vigorous. Strong enough to outcompete moss.

mowing your lawn

Longer grass blades also protect the soil against water loss – so grass stays greener for longer in the summer months.

The ideal height for a family lawn is around 5cm. don’t worry, it will still look manicured. Especially if you mow little and often and keep those edges neatly trimmed.

How to mow your lawn properly   

In summary

The five key points for controlling moss in your lawn are:  Shade, soil, scarification, nutrition and mowing. Trust me, it’s easy when you know how!

So, if you were wondering why your lawn is full of moss, now you know how to deal with moss and keep your garden tidy.

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