Sunday, August 29, 2010

Damp Weather is Good for Moss and Bad for Lawns

After a spring like few days in Canterbury the weather has turned cool and wet again. It has been a dull and damp winter in most parts of New Zealand. The La Nina weather pattern has brought north-easterly winds, clouds and rain to the east of both islands. The resulting low sunshine hours and wet conditions have been ideal growing conditions for mosses.

Mosses thrive in poorly drained lawns, paths, driveways and other places where there is shade and low light. In those areas where mosses are unsightly or replacing lawn grasses, a combination of using moss control products and changing the conditions will get rid of moss and prevent it returning.

One place that mosses can be of benefit is as the lining to hanging baskets where the spongy water retaining moss will be both attractive and help to keep moisture in the basket. You might consider raking the moss from your lawn for this purpose prior to control.

To get rid of moss first cut the lawn and allow it to recover for at least one day before treatment with NO Moss in Lawns moss killer. Dichlorophen will also control liverworts and slimes but will not harm the lawn grasses and it can also be used on paths, drives and other hard surfaces. Avoid cutting the lawn again for as long as possible and raise the cut height of your lawnmower to give the grass a chance to thrive and replace the moss.

Once the moss has blackened and killed rake it out of the lawn or scrape it off hard surfaces. Then spike or fork the affected area of lawn to improve drainage and to aerate the soil. Cut back overhanging trees and bushes that shade the affected areas and re seed bare patches with grass. Moss growth can be a sign of poor nutrient levels in the soil and high acidity. In spring or early summer use a good organic fertiliser on the lawn to promote grass growth and test the soil to check acidity; add lime to increase the pH if the test shows it to be below 6.0. If possible keep off lawns when the lawn is wet in order to avoid compaction of the surface.

In autumn, give the lawn a good raking to remove dead grass and moss and aerate again by forking or spiking. Apply top dressing at this time if the lawn is either uneven, or in need of an organic boost of nutrient. Liquid organic fertiliser will green up grasses at anytime and help reduce the opportunity for moss growth.

There are many products for cleaning mosses, moulds and mildews off hard surfaces such as paths and driveways. These are split into the bleach type products and those containing actives such as NO Moss Mould Mildew. Benzalkonium does not just bleach the mosses and moulds but kills them down to their base and gives much better long term control.

Why do mother kangaroos hate rainy days? Because then the children have to play inside.

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