What is moss and why is it a problem?
Mosses are sometimes mistakenly confused with liverworts, lichens, and hornworts but they are an entirely different plant. Moss is a green, small flowerless plant that grows in wet and shady conditions. In fact, over the past million years or so, moss was just beginning to adapt to growing on land, away from water. Although moss is dependent on water to survive, they have adapted to living on the mainland.
Moss has a chloroplast which lets it create food through photosynthesis and so it is not a vascular plant. They reproduce and spread their spores through meiosis. Sometimes, the wind can help moss spread their spores to a larger area.
Mosses are epiphytic plants that can grow on top of other plants without harming them. There are thousands of different types of moss such as peat moss and granite moss. Moss is a part of the Bryophyta family genus. Moss absorbs water from through the surface and not from the roots.
To free surfaces from unwanted moss requires an understanding of how moss grows in the first place. By changing certain parts of the soil, water supply, or nutrients from fertilisers, you can restrict the growth of moss for an extended period.
The things actively growing moss on lawns, roof tiles, drives, trees, and planting beds can tell you is:
- the soil is very acidic which reduces competition and promotes moss growth. Lawn grass needs a pH level between 6 and 7 to excel. Use a simple soil test kit to measure pH levels. Adding lime to the soil reduces the acidity of the soil. Remember, the lower the number equates to higher acid levels while higher the number equates to higher alkaline levels.
- the soil is too wet or too dry. Too much water in the lawn causes moss growth. Too less water and the plants/grass will enter a drought period. As a result, moss growth will increase. Use a rain gauge to check the water levels in your garden or lawn.
- the soil has a poor nutritional content. Fertilise your lawn with organic waste to improve soil quality.
- there is a shady area. Excess shade and moss growth will be promoted. To combat this, cultivate grasses that are shade tolerant.
- the soil is compacted. It is best practice to aerate and scarify your lawn a couple times a year to avoid moss growth.
So if the area you wish to treat has any of the conditions listed above, then there is a risk that moss will grow there.
Why is it a problem?
Moss growing in many places can have many reasons why they are a problem. One example is moss growing on trees. Moss tends to grow rapidly on trees and as a result adds extra weight. The main risks that moss poses on trees and shrubs is that they can cause disease and the absorption of water can lead to weak branches, especially during windy conditions. Furthermore, mosses can quickly overtake hard surfaces, creating a weak aesthetic profile.
What is the right time to kill moss?
Believe it or not, there is an actual period each year within which you should kill moss. This period is between late winter and early spring. Early
February and early April are great times to kill moss because it can prevent the growth before new seedlings germinate during the summer. Killing moss during early spring gives you more room to plant and cultivate desired vegetation.
Homemade moss remover recipe
There are many household ingredients you can use to control moss. There are also proper management practices that can help you control moss growth. Firstly, rake the lawn to remove surface thatch and moss. Secondly, aerate the area with a lawn aerator or raker to make sure the moss drains effortlessly. Thirdly, irrigate the affected area during dry summer periods. Next, apply a fertiliser on a scheduled basis. Lastly, mow the lawn regularly and use lime to maintain the soil pH between 6.0-6.5.
The most common type of moss growing in your garden, rooftop, driveway or elsewhere is silver-moss known by its botanical name Bryum argenteum. This kind of moss responds quickly to bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). Baking soda makes for a great organic moss killer.
To use, simply take some baking soda and sprinkle it on your rooftops and use a long-reach brush to spread the sprinkles around. Within a few days, the moss should die. Next, scrape off, or pressure wash the dead moss off of your roof.
Best commercial moss killers
If you are performing a heavy duty job of moss eradication or do not wish to use baking soda, then you should consider looking at some of the best moss killers.
Pro-Kleen moss killer concentrate
Pro-Kleen mould, algae, moss remover is the United Kingdom’s best-selling best moss killer. It requires you to dilute it 1 part Pro-Kleen solution to 5 parts water that treats up to 200 square kilometres. It effectively gets rid of mould, algae and kills moss.
Aside from being a best-seller, Pro-Kleen is the strongest moss killer on the market. In fact, it has the most active ingredient than any other moss remover.
Moreover, it is not acidic and contains zero bleach. It breaks down by micro-organisms in the soil so there is a little environmental risk. Also, children and pets can be re-introduced to the treated area given it is dry.
Pro-Kleen spray and walk concentrate moss killer works on many different areas including, fences, tarmac, rooftops, patios, drives, sheds, uPVC windows, sheds, boats, caravans, and decking.
Ultima- Plus XP moss, mould, and algae killer
This is a product is a very powerful mould, algae, and moss remover. It dilutes at 1 part liquid moss killer with 10 parts water and covers areas up to 400 square metres. Do not use this product during rainy periods because it can reduce effectiveness. It does not contain bleach or acid.
Ultima-Plus XP is ideal for use on decking, pathways, along fences, drives, greenhouses, roof shingles or shakes of a roof, sheds, garden statues, pots, boats, motor homes, and all outdoor hard surfaces.
Iron sulphate also referred to as ferrous sulphate or sulphate of iron is a natural substance that gets rid of moss. Iron sulphate is sometimes marketed as a moss killer and sometimes as a fertiliser. There is no difference between the ferrous sulphate moss killer version and the fertiliser version. However, companies that market iron sulphate as a moss killer must first obtain government authority. Iron sulfate fertilisers do not need this authority. Within one hour of applying iron sulphate to your infested area, moss will begin to blacken. For more information read our review of iron sulphate moss killer.
After removal of moss with the best moss killer, use a rake to clean up the dead vegetation. Tiling your garden or lawn will help loosen the grass. Because moss thrives in shady conditions, perhaps you should choose to regrow grass that is shade tolerant. Fertilising the treated area can bring new nutrients into the soil and promote grass growth. Remember the stronger your desired vegetation; the less moss will appear.
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