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Everything You Need to Know About Fall Lawn Moss Control

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Here in the Northwest some of us have become familiar with the dreaded moss build up in our lawns. As summer comes to an end and the fall weather brings cooler temperatures, you may notice moss poking its head around again. This brings up the question of how do we treat moss or prevent it in our lawns altogether.

Moss control can be approached using a few different avenues, with the best approach being preventive care. At Creative Landcare, we notice a few different common themes, the main one being moss taking hold in thin shaded wet lawns.

Why Fall Lawn Moss Control Is Important

In general, most of us view moss as an obnoxious weed growing in our lawns. Allowing moss to grow unchecked will ultimately leave you with no lawn or at the very least a sad looking area that used to be a lawn.

Fall moss control can be easy, but first you need to understand what's going on behind the scenes. Moss prefers wet and shady areas in order to grow. It survives mostly on photosynthesis, meaning it pulls nutrients from water and nitrogen in the atmosphere. Moss grows best in our clay-based acidic soils, which can be a big issue if you have a wet and shady lawn. The secret is to first identify these issues and then create a plan of attack.

  1. Treat your soil with lime in order to bring up the pH level. This will solve the acidic soil problem.

  2. Choose the correct grass variety that will tolerate the shady conditions. Fine fescue blends work the best.

  3. Thin existing trees to allow for more light to reach grass blades. This may be more complicated if shade is caused by current structures that can not be changed.

  4. Find ways to solve water issues, such as installing drains to relieve excess water. Aerating soil and installing river sand or small ¼ inch gravel, will help to break up the clay.

When all else fails, there are products that can be applied that work by dehydrating the moss, ultimately killing it (at least temporarily). These products can be found at your local big box store.


However, caution needs to be used when applying these products to your lawn. While they do work by killing off the moss, they also tear down your soil matrix. Our recommendation is to only apply it once, but a second time may be necessary, in isolated areas as needed. After the moss dies back, it's important to rake out the dead moss and apply seed quickly before the cold weather arrives. Seeding usually needs to be done in two applications about 2- 3 weeks apart.

Types of Moss That Are Problematic

Here in the Portland, we see the same suspects when it comes to moss:

  • Sphagnum moss

  • Dicranum moss

  • Liverwort - a close family to moss


All of these moss types survive on the same principles as mentioned above and can be treated and prevented with the correct care.

How to Spot a Moss Control Problem

You can spot moss growth as soon as the weather cools and the days get shorter. Fall moss is quick growing and should be treated rapidly before damage is done to your lawn.

It's important to notice the issue and take action. Look for moss in shaded areas of your yard or in areas that tend to hold water.

Don’t Less Moss Get You Down

We hope you have a better understanding of what types of moss are most widely seen in the Pacific Northwest and how you can prevent moss from growing in the first place.

Moss control is a specialty of ours; we experience moss related issues on a daily basis. If taking care of your moss problem seems overwhelming, feel free to call us for a free consultation. We’ll help you find the best approach to take care of your fall moss issue.

Robin Paschall