May – Time to take action
If you haven’t already taken action against moss this year, then its really the last chance to start, if you are going to have a great looking lawn this summer. The process of getting rid of moss involves removing some of the surface, inevitably this will mean some damage and so time to renew and repair is needed.
In Spring right now, there is competition for oxygen nutrient and water, so to give your grass the best chance of winning the competition you need to quickly assess the situation and take the necessary steps to counter the grass’s enemy, which is moss.
Moss takes hold with every opportunity is can find, if not eradicated it will come back. Also if you have not taken steps to sort out why it starts to get a foothold, then you can face the same problem every year.
Moss will grow best in shade, just where the grass Is weakest. Out in the sun, the grass has the upper hand, the sun dries up the dampness that moss loves. So, check that you eliminate as far as possible areas of shade. Obviously there is some conflict or difficulty if you have a tree in the garden, but a little pruning in the right place can sometimes be all that is required to give the grass a boost. Is there a hedge creating shade that could be cut down a foot or two? No one is expecting you to massacre your favourite feature in order to minimise the shade and max out the grass potential, but even a little trimming here and there can make all the difference.
Creating an Even Surface
Also remember that the lawn no matter how carefully you prepared the surface, is not an even environment, that is to say, the surface soil will have more nutrient in some areas than others and the surface itself will always shift a little year making hills and valleys in miniature. One of the problems could be the uneven length of the grass. Moss will take up this advantage in the wetter, colder months and make it difficult for the grass to grow. Next time it rains, even if its at night, it’s a good time to check if you have a bit of a dip in the surface, the water will tend to pool here and that’s what the moss wants..Of course by the time the rain stops, you won’t see the pooling effect, as the moss will have soaked it up.
Take your time to even out any pockets that have sunk down causing a slight valley. Don’t worry about the recovery, it will be back and flourishing, without that moss in no time, well about 4 weeks anyway. Evening out nutrient can be fixed by feeding the whole lawn, there are many preparations quite suitable for this.
Adjust Cut length
Lastly, grass length. When your lawn is showing at its best in mid summer, you need to remember that it is a plant and needs its leaf to take in light. If you make the cut too severe, you will limit the ability of the grass to return quickly and hence lose out on its best and most consistent look. This is especially true when its under stress from competing moss growth. In our section on mowers, I make notes on how easy, or not it is to adjust the cutting height.
In particular the US made Greenworks-25022, a good example of a low priced machine with simple height adjustment. If your needs are small area, the UK Cel Cylinder Cordless 24volt has the advantage of a cylinder cut and very fine adjustment of height This simple but often overlooked feature is key to how your lawn will give its best in high season. It will of course need to be varied depending on the use of the grass, but for the average ornamental garden lawn, without high traffic, setting up 4 cm will give the grass the ability to recover quickly and give the best results. Don’t forget too, that as well as depressions in the surface, discussed above, there can be ridges, if not seen to, these will create bald spots, so seek out high points and remedy them.
Removing the Moss
You will , after assessing the problem, need to remove the moss. If it is just patches that have succumbed to moss, then take a good rake and rigorously rake it out, don’t worry about creating a bald patch, the chances are that it was there all along, but unnoticed because of the moss.
You need to make sure now, after raking out the growth of moss, that the grass is given the best chance to flourish. For larger areas there are powered scarifiers, to tow behind a lawn tractor or smaller walk behind units. As these tend to be expensive unless you have large grounds, consider hiring at the local hire shop. It is rare, but if the moss is very bad, you might consider using a chemical agent to help.
After removing the moss growth, aerate and feed the lawn. To aerate the lawn, I advise doing the whole lawn, as compaction will have taken place over the previous season, now, in April and May is the ideal time to do this. Again there are simple methods for the smaller lawn, like using a garden fork, or spike shoes to more comprehensive methods with powered units. Feeding the lawn should be done in weekly scheduled sessions. If you keep up the feeding for 4 to 6 weeks, you will be amazed at the recovery and lush green color of the lawn, just arriving at the right time to look great in mid summer. Stick to the order given above, if you mow first, then rake out compacted thatch, then aerate and feed , you won’t find your feed being dispersed by the mower!