Removing mossy lawn questions for a plush new lawn

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by gml9, Feb 9, 2005.

  1. gml9

    gml9 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 109

    Have a few questions about a friends lawn renovation, I'm planning this Spring. Any knowledgable advice would be appreciated. The lawn is wooded, in VA, has lots of moss and some grass, is compact, and slopes down to a drainage ditch. The owner has added lime in the past and seeded/fertilized and hasn't gotten positive results. Not sure what type of seed he used and how much lime he used, etc. My plan is to thatch the entire lawn area, dethatch, double aerate, lime, seed(Lesco), starter fertilize, 1/2" compost, and straw the top. Keep watered till the seed takes. Yes, I'm planning on doing a soil test first. This is a large backyard(75' x 50'). Estimate is 1400. Debating on sodding it. This is a good friends place who is really particular about his lawn. I've done many lawns, but never dealt with moss issues. I know it likes poor drainage areas and moisture. So who can give some good advice??
  2. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,898

    Have you tried searching on this (and the landscape) forum? I know there was thread on it a while back...

    Yes, do the soil test. There's a reason the moss is there. It's either because of lack of light (which is highly probable), or due to nutrient deficiencies.

    Obviously, use seed that is meant for shady areas. I have yet to see a full, plush lawn in a heavily wooded area- it's just not possible.

    Should the soil test come back fine, you/your friend have a few options- 1. Move 2. Cut down some trees (I HATE having to say that- I'd rather have the trees!) 3. Get the trees pruned by a certified arborist to allow for more light penetration.

    Just remember, when it comes to trees and turf, the trees will win every time.:)

  3. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    As D Felix has said above your best bet is probably to have the trees trimmed back or completely removed. there a drainage issue. Is the soil wet and soggy most of the year? Perhaps regrading will further help the moss issue by having the rainwater drain toward the drainage ditch.

    You can try a dense shade mixture (composed mostly of fescue--around here at least). Only requires a few hours of sunlight per day (2-4)...but doesn't tolerate high heat and sun. Nice and green but it does not spread or repair itself. So dealing with kids running/playing on the lawn or a ZTR might not be the best for this. Not sure of the situation. Problem is it will grow in early spring and take off well...but once the leaves start come in (assuming they aren't evergreens) it could yield minimal light..even for the fescue. Also your best bet would be to overseed with fescue every year as again, it doesn't repiar itself.
  4. Moss is more prevalent in shaded area's, is an indication of a wet soil, and CAN, repeat, CAN, be an indicator of a low ph. . I have seen lawns with moss with a ph above 7.0!

    A soil test will tell you if you need to correct ph, try to get close to 6.2-6.3, add sulfur if needed, or use a dolomitic or calcitic lime depending on the base saturation of magnesium. Correct all other nutrient problems. I would recommend seeding instead of sodding, because the fine fescue will due so much better than tt tall fescue in the shade. Make sure the fine fescue is a improve type of creeping red fescue. The fine fescue will take less nitrogen, 1-2 lbs/m per year. The morning sun is the most important for survival of cool season turf in the transition zone!
  5. joshua

    joshua LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,226

    if it is heavy shade which it sounds like the customers best option is to just landscape the whole back yard and nothing else. can you seed yes, will the seed germinate yes, but will he have to water all summer long every day and every year most likely. unfortunity his lawn will still thin out every year and you will constantly have to keep over seeding. in the long run that is the cheapest way to go. unless he wants to have trees cut down
  6. Coffeecraver

    Coffeecraver LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA.
    Messages: 793

    Moss Problems in Lawns
    June 18, 1998
    How to control moss growing in lawn areas is a fairly common question. Moss is not likely to invade or crowd out grasses in a healthy stand of turf. Moss doesn't cause lawn decline, but tends to develop as lawns thin due to poor site or management factors.

    For example, moss may invade lawns with problems such as low soil fertility, poor soil drainage, compacted soils, excessive shade, poor air circulation, and high humidity. Often the site may have a combination of these conditions. Poor lawn care practices are another source of moss problems. General neglect, irregular mowing, lack of fertilizer, and overwatering are common problems leading to poor turf growth that may lead to moss problems.

    What can be done about the moss? Moss can be eliminated, at least temporarily, by hand raking when it first appears. Ferrous ammonium sulfate or ferric sulfate (iron sulfate) can also be used to control moss. The moss will temporarily burn away, but tends to return fairly quickly unless the site conditions and/or lawn care program is altered.

    It's best to focus on the cultural options for a more permanent answer to moss problems in lawns. Evaluate the site and make all necessary corrections to favor lawn growth. For example, prune trees to allow more light to reach the lawn and remove excess vegetation to improve air circulation over the site. Reduce soil compaction using cultivation practices such as core aerification.

    Make adjustments to lawn care practices. For example, fertilize according to the type of grass growing on site and type of site. Lawns in full sun require more fertilizer than those in shade. Avoid excessive watering and mowing too short. Mow between 2 and 3 inches, preferably at the high end of the range for summer.

    Finally, make sure the proper grass is growing for the site conditions present. If changes need to be made, late August into early September is a good time for lawn renovation. Kentucky bluegrass is ideal for full-sun areas but does not typically do well in shade, thus tends to thin out and allow moss to invade. Fine fescue, such as red fescue, is a better option for shade. If fine fescue declines, consider a shade tolerant groundcover.

    Contact a Certified Arborist and have them look at: Thinning the trees to provide enough light to help fight the moss.

    the selective removal of branches to increase light penetration and air movement through the crown. Thinning opens the foliage of a tree, reduces weight on heavy limbs, and helps retain the tree's natural shape.

    Traylor, Steven
    HAMPTON, VA 23669 (804) 938-2581
    Carter, James HAMPTON, VA 23666 757-826-0103

    Haines, Mary HAMPTON, VA 23666 757-258-4140

    McCown, Porter City of Newport News
    HAMPTON, VA 23666 (757) 591-4844

  7. jmkr02

    jmkr02 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 264

    Sounds good It seemed to have worked for me but in areas where it is constantly wet and shady, moss seems to grow make sure there is proper drainage and that you don't disrupt any plant structure holding your hill together, becuase erosion can be a problem. Do it first thing in the spring to get the grass growing before the trees get their leaves on them so you can get the light on your seed, and use the right seed. Sod sounds good, but make sure you can get a shade tolerant grass. Nix the straw try a mulch mat, straw can blow around and needs to be retained because no one likes a angry neighbor.
    The experts seem to say that regular cultivation such as slicing, dicing, plugging and dressing, and sound horticultural practice's such as using the right fertilizers and apply only what is needed.
    If Weed's aren't a problem don't put down post emergent control use spot control...

    Oh and the arbor's ideas to spot trim and maintain the trees are great, dont cut down trees they take too much time to grow and add value to property.

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