Extreme moss growth warning for gardeners

Moss being held in a hand with a scarify rake nearby
(Image credit: Getty)

Gardening experts have warned that there will be a boom in mossy gardens after the UK was swept by heavy rainfall.

When moss gets too thick it prevents nutrients from reaching the roots of the grass – not great if you care about your lawn and take garden design and appearance seriously.

Moss can be temporary however, following drought or waterlogging, or more persistent, which is usually the result of problems with the underlying soil or growing conditions.

Why is there extreme moss growth?

The Met Office said the UK had 402.5mm (15.8ins) of rain in the autumn, 19% more than average.

Guy Barter, chief horticulturist at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), told MailOnline: “Moss likes wet soil and last autumn was wetter than usual.”

The issue is exacerbated by soil shrinkage arising from summer droughts, according to David Hedges-Gower, chairman of The Lawn Association.

He said: “Moss is an opportunist. If a gap appears in your lawn, a weed or a moss spore will germinate.

“And by simple definition, if grass isn’t the dominant plant, then you will always be on the losing side with moss.”

What will moss do to my lawn?

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Moss growth can restrict grass growth because it stops the grass absorbing water, fertiliser, and oxygen.

This means the grass plants will eventually become dormant and dry out, so your lawn will become very discoloured and uneven, and weeds will start to take over your garden.

But there are plenty of ways to simply and effectively remove moss. Some say chemical products are the best method when looking at how to get rid of moss in lawns, others say all-natural methods are far superior.

How do I help my grass beat the moss?

Scarifying, also known as de-thatching, is the process of removing thatch, moss, and other matter from the surface of the lawn that prevents healthy grass growth. 

It is done using a scarifier, a tool that uses rolling blades to trim and remove the unhelpful organic matter holding your garden back. You can read more on how to scarify a lawn in our guide.

Mowing the lawn too close can remove too much leaf, curtailing growth. However, leaving the lawn uncut will often result in leaves and debris also being left on the lawn which will lead to disease and thinning grass.

For an in-depth guide on when you should mow the lawn, take a look at our guide on when should i stop cutting my grass?

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) says the best way to control excess lawn moss is to improve the growing conditions of the grass, so it becomes more vigorous and dense and therefore outcompetes the moss.

Plants need a wide range of nutrients in various amounts, depending on the individual plant and its stage of growth. The three key plant nutrients usually derived from soil are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

Other vital soil nutrients include magnesium, calcium, and sulphur. Gardeners can add nutrients by applying artificial and/or naturally-derived fertilisers to boost plant growth.

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.