Monday, 11 July 2016


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Moss, including algae, liverworts, lichens and moss, can help to age a garden and add a lovely weathered in appearance.  On stone and timber features lichens and moss can be very attractive and give a mature look to the garden. Such growths do not harm the surfaces on which they grow, and are a natural part of the garden ecosystem.

However moss on hard surfaces and garden furniture can be a pain, covering patios, steps, driveways and lawns. As well as looking unsightly moss can cause a surface to become slippery and so it is best to remove it.

Moss likes damp, humid, shady conditions, clean air and poor drainage. It thrives in dark, damp conditions and so is prevalent in shady areas, especially in the wetter autumn and winter months. Winter is traditionally the time when algal, moss and liverwort growth is most significant, but build-up can occur during any wet period or in shady, humid areas.


It is better to prevent the build up of moss than to treat it repeatedly. This can be achieved by improving light conditions and ventilation to mossy areas.  Cut back overhanging vegetation and improve drainage to the surrounding areas by digging channels at the edge of affected areas and filling with gravel, digging over soil areas and keeping drains and channels clear of leaves and other debris.

Consider the use of permeable surfaces rather than less porous hard surfaces, which drain poorly.  Brush surfaces on a regular basis to prevent the build up of mossy patches.

Non chemical control of moss

Small areas of moss can be removed manually by scraping off the moss with a hoe, sharp knife or wire broom.  This method is best carried out in the summer when the moss is dry and looser.  Once the moss is loosened sweep up with a stiff broom and dispose of the collected moss.

Alternatively a pressure washer can be used to remove moss.  However, although this gives an instant effect it can spread moss spores across the surface area, and if the surface is poorly drained the extra water can exacerbate the issue.  

Moss can be removed from grass areas by raking with a spring-tine rake or use of a scarifier.

Chemical control of moss

Algae, lichens and liverworts can be removed from hard surfaces with most proprietary patio cleaners. Larger areas can be treated chemically using a moss killer containing benzalkonium chloride, acetic acid, fatty acids or nitrilo triacetic acid/trisodium salt.  these include product such as Bayer Moss killer, Bayer path and patio cleaner and Jeyes fluid.  I find that in addition, moss can be controlled by the application of rock salt along pathways.

Lawns can be treated for moss with chemicals containing ferrous iron (sulphate of iron), which will blacken the moss and green up your lawn. Apply in the spring or early autumn and remove after two or three weeks with a spring-tine rake when it blackens.

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