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Moss in lawns

Many Minnesota homeowners object to mossy spots in their lawns. Generally, moss grows where conditions will not support grass. Cool, moist, shady places are ideal spots for moss to fill in thin turf. Moss may also grow in sunny areas in damp seasons if soil fertility is low. Poor soil, excessive shade, poor drainage, and soil compaction encourage moss. Acid soil may contribute to growth of moss, but Minnesota soils should not be limed without a soil test because many areas of the state have sufficient or even excess lime for many plants.

The best way to discourage moss is to grow better grass. Fertilize and water to insure vigorous growth. If shrubs and trees have overgrown the area, pruning may help to open the lawn to more sun and air. Yearly power raking and aerification in heavy soils will improve drainage and lessen compaction. Some moss patches may be raked out by hand using a heavy metal garden rake with fixed tines. Bare spots should be cultivated and reseeded with a mixture suitable for the light conditions:

  1. Shady: 60% creeping red fescue to 40% shade tolerant Kentucky bluegrass varieties
  2. Sunny: 60-80% bluegrass to 20-40% creeping red fescue

Sunny, well drained lawns can be cleared of moss with these measures. However, if you have a mossy, deeply shaded place where grass will not grow, re-design the space into a rock and fern garden, let the moss grow, and enjoy it. There are also several handsome groundcovers suitable for Minnesota that will make beauty spots of damp, cool places in your property.

Reviewed 10/99

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