Here’s How to Control Moss on Your Lawn

That green, carpet-like growth on your lawn could mean you need to learn how best to control moss.

But if you’re like most do-it-yourself homeowners, you’ll want to try this organic, quick-start moss control guide before you move on to a professional.

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5 Conditions That Grow Moss

If moss is growing on your Cincinnati lawn, it’s because the conditions are right for moss and not grass. To convince grass to grow instead of moss, you must reverse the conditions that create moss.

These are the conditions that moss likes and what you need to do to prevent or exterminate it.

1. Shade

You’ll rarely see moss growing in full-sun gardens in most parts of the United States, and that includes Southwest Ohio. It’s difficult to tell a homeowner to cut down a tree to increase the light hitting your lawn.

If this is your problem, you might need to consider this drastic solution. But other techniques are available, such as simply not trying to grow grass under deep, continuous shade. 

moss on shaded tree - control moss
Moss on a shaded tree is a good indicator that the conditions in your yard could lead to an unhealthy lawn.

2. Moisture

Damp areas are perfect havens for moss. The only long-term solution is to hire a landscaper or drainage contractor to solve the problem. Why? Because you have to get rid of the water and that’s a big job.

Water draining onto backyard from downspout causes moss
Look for areas around your yard that are adding too much moisture to your lawn. They will foster the promotion of moss and create an unhealthy situation for your lawn and garden.

3. Low Fertility

Moss does not thrive in areas with good lawn fertility. But this problem can be easily solved by a professional fertilization program or by learning how to feed your lawn.

An often-recommended organic application is to add superphosphate at 1 pound per 1,000 square feet. Although you can’t guarantee results without a soil test, it’s a good place to start. 

Commercial fertilizers are often made with triple superphosphates
Professional landscapers and lawn care specialists often use commercial-grade fertilizers made with triple superphosphates.

4. Thatch

Moss often thrives in lawns where thatch is present. Thatch is a dense layer of living and dead organic matter that accumulates between the soil surface and the green matter.

If you get rid of the thatch, you’ll likely get rid of the moss. The conditions that help keep the thatch accumulating will also work to keep moss alive.

removing thatch from lawn with rake to prevent moss
Scarifying or raking a lawn with a grass rake to remove dead thatch in your lawn is a tedious, physically demanding job.

5. Acidic Soils

Moss prefers soils that have pH of less than 6.0. Acidic soils with pH levels lower than 6.0 can easily be corrected by adding live to the lawn. 

Two pounds of lime per 1,000 square feet will move the pH up (on average soils) by .01. How much to add to your soil depends on the original soil acidity.

It is best to get a soil test from a professional, then add the mount of lime the test recommends. Otherwise, you’re just guessing. And you won’t know much lime to add. The test is an important measurement to keep you from using an amount that could harm or even destroy your lawn.

NOTE: If you are in the Cincinnat and Northern Kentucky area, you probably don’t have acidic soil. Although overly acidic soils are normally a concern, we have limestone-based soil.

soil being test to control moss on lawn
A soil test can be conducted by an agronomist or your local lawn care professional.

Lawn Applications to Control Moss

There are some recommended home remedies to battle moss. These include a 50:50 solution of vinegar and water. If you try this method, be careful because vinegar can harm your existing healthy grass. 

A few other DIY applications include fatty acid (soap-based) products such as moss and algae killers. The Safer brand makes a product that works safely on lawns, decks, and pathways. Dilute copper sulfate is also packaged as a moss killer, as is ammonium and iron sulfate. Finally, you can try treating your lawn with a moss control fertilizer.

We have seen these products have some affect but repeating applications are necessary and the moss will keep coming back. 

Professionals can use a herbicide containing Carfentrazone-ethyl and get effective control after a few applications.  These treatments can be expensive, however, so we usually recommend we try to exhaust all cultural controls first.

Safer brand moss and algae killer spray can control moss
To get rid of moss temporarily, you can use a product like this Safer brand moss and algae killer. Or you can opt for a longer-lasting solution from your local lawn care and landscaping professional.


Just like water, moss always wins. Moss will grow if you have conditions favorable for it. So, it’s important for a healthy, thriving lawn that you learn how to prevent it and create conditions where you lawn can thrive and not the moss.

Here’s the bottom line. You can avoid much of these problems by understanding the conditions for moss to grow and taking care of the conditions that allow for it.

Need More Help?

Need professional help to control moss on your Cincinnati-area lawn? Just contact American Landscapes here for a free, no-obligation estimate. Or call us at (513) 947-8727.

You can also learn more about our lawn care treatments, and outdoor lighting services by reading our blog. In addition to fertilizer and weed control, we also provide mosquito control, lawn aeration, lawn seeding, and much more.