INVADING PRIVATE TURF AND LAWNS, DESTROYING
LANDSCAPES AND WOODEN STRUCTURES
Machine; bryophytes; Selaginella spp.
Hangout: Shade; wet soil; rocks, trees, benches and in lawns
Physical Features: 1-3" in height; grows
in patches low to the ground, on rocks, trees, color is dark to bright
A crafty creature, moss
tackles lawns when they are weakest-cool, rainy winter months, when slow-growing
grass blades are less able to defend themselves and moss can take the
upper hand in the battle for space, nutrients and water. Winter is also
the time of year when moss will spread onto other structures. Moss growth
slows or stops in warmer, drier weather.
AREAS ON THE NORTH SIDE OF YOUR PROPERTY ARE MOST AT RISK TO MOSS INVASIONS
BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF SUN EXPOSURE.
Just Like a Rolling Stone!
1. Patrol the area
- Survey parts of your landscape
that don't receive much sun.
- Carefully search for suspects
on the north side of your lot.
Record your observations for future reference.
2. Make a positive I.D.
- There are many kinds of
moss in the Lake Whatcom area. The mug shot above is just an example.
Sometimes moss isn't typical looking, so if you're stuck, take the suspect
to the pros at the Cooperative Extension office.
3. Do a thorough background
- Did you know moss doesn't
have roots like most plants? It has something called rhizoids, which
are underground filaments to help it stay put. These filaments are weaker
than the strong taproots of some weeds, making moss easier to hand pull.
4. Determine the danger
- Moss can be a problem if
it makes a lawn uneven, causing people to trip or twist ankles. It also
doesn't withstand foot traffic very well, and will wear down to the
soil, leaving brown spots, points of entry for weeds.
- Moss can also cause slippery
surfaces on sidewalks and stairs. It can also decompose wooden structures.
- Moss is often deliberately
included in landscapes for its natural but unique shades of color and
diversity of textures. Many people transplant moss to rock gardens in
5. Make a plan
- Do-Nothing Method
-If moss is not in any areas where it might be dangerous to humans or
manmade structures, there is probably no reason to get rid of it.
-If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! Letting moss grow in poorly draining
soil or steep slopes might actually enhance your landscape. It's soft,
green, and never needs mowing.
- Manipulative Measures
-Switch into S.W.A.T. mode! Rip moss from the soil barehanded for small
areas. Use a rake for larger patches.
-Burn it out with sunlight by pruning trees and shrubs.
-Your lawn needs you! Help grass protect itself by giving it proper
care. See Keeping Your Lawn and
Lake Whatcom Healthy.
-Remove grass from shady areas where it's easily victimized and landscape
with shade-loving plants like Oregon grape.
-Frequently scrape moss off of manmade structures. If concrete areas
are a consistent moss problem area, remove the concrete and replace
- Secret Agents
-Not many critters eat mosses because most are highly toxic to animals.
-Moss is mostly controlled by its picky preference for wet, shady places.
It has to fight for these spots, competing with other plants that prefer
the same places.
- Armed and Dangerous
-Chemically arming yourself against moss is usually only a temporary
solution. Moss will return to shady areas where grass or other plants
cannot sufficiently protect itself from the invasion.
-If you decide to use chemicals to ward off moss, be sure to read and
follow the directions for use, storage and disposal.
6. Evaluate the results
- Because moss is very choosy
about where it lives, it usually returns to the same places. So, keep
a record of where it has been, and frequently police those areas. Don't
forget to record the effectiveness of any steps you take to set it back.
Dandelion | Black Spot >>