I received this interesting question about lawn care at the opposite end of the British Isles to me. A reader asks about how to keep moss away on a lawn in the far north of Scotland.
I live on the north coast of Scotland so we get 20 hours of daylight in the height of summer and very low light levels for 6 hours in mid winter.
Drought in summer is rarely a problem but high rain levels and low light in autumn and winter creates moss.
Is there anything I should do in these specific climatic conditions to ensure a great lawn?
I aerate with a core plugger every autumn, scarify in the spring and put a 20-10-10 down May and July.Robert, via Post Comment
Hi Robert, Thanks for your comment.
That is a really difficult situation and you will always be fighting moss. What are the best ways to help your grass though?
How do you keep moss away?
I like to think of the battle with moss on a lawn like a race. Whichever species has the best growing conditions wins the race. Moss likes wet, cool, dark conditions with low nutrition. Grass prefers drier, warmer, light conditions with higher nutrients. Moss wins when the grass is struggling. Grass wins when the moss is struggling. Thinking of it in those simple terms can help us to understand how to tip the race in favour of the grass.
For your lawn Robert, I would certainly look at helping the grass a bit more through the winter. It will be the toughest time by far. Low light levels, cold temperatures and wet conditions will not help the grass at all. This is what I recommend you can add to your current plan which will help your grass through the winter.
Additions to your lawn care plan
Firstly, I would certainly look at adding an autumn fertiliser to your current lawn care plan. I believe that the autumn feed is the second most important one in the cycle. Boosting valuable nutrients before the grass goes into winter dormancy gives it a massive boost for the winter. I certainly see a difference in the quality of grasses the following spring compared to those which have not had an autumn feed.
Secondly, I would add a couple of winter iron treatments to your lawn care programme. These will help to keep the moss in check at key times of the year and prevent it from overwhelming the grass. Early winter (November / December) and then late winter (February / March), preferably a month before scarifying. Don’t overdo it though. Too much iron won’t do your soil bacteria any good.
A mid winter turf hardener fertiliser will certainly help the grass in the winter. This is especially if it is a wet winter. Look for a feed with a trace amount of nitrogen and a high percentage of potassium. Specialist winter feeds also contain other elements essential to grass health in the winter such as magnesium, calcium and sulphur.
Some cultural suggestions
I would certainly consider keeping the grass much longer than usual during the winter. Grass really needs light in the cold months and keeping a longer leaf will certainly help it to stay healthy and crowd out the moss.
If the lawn is at all shaded by evergreens, certainly look at cutting these back. Sunlight is at a premium and you will notice moss is a big problem on any areas of grass which is shaded in the winter.
I hope these tips are helpful Robert and that you are able to implement some of them. I’m sure your lawn will be thriving and moss free next year.
Thanks for reading.
The Lawn Man