How to get rid of moss in your lawn – 4 simple ways to restore a pristine stretch of green

Tackle this common problem with this expert advice

moss growing in lawn
(Image credit: schulzie / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images)

Moss growing in lawns is a common gardeners' woe, particularly for those who pride themselves on a pristine stretch of turf in their plot. Lawn maintenance takes up a lot of time, so patches of an unexpected plant popping up can make all that hard work seem in vain.

Moss is a sign that the conditions aren't quite right for grass to thrive. The resulting uneven look can be a cause of frustration – but the problem can be fixed.

Applying a commercial moss killer is one go-to method, but it isn't the only one. If you'd rather approach the issue in a more eco-friendly way, there are alternative lawn care methods to eradicate the moss and get your grass looking green, thick, and picture-perfect again.

4 ways to tackle moss in your lawn

John Negus
John Negus

John has been a garden journalist for over 50 years and regularly answers readers' questions in Amateur Gardening magazine. He has also written four books and has delivered many talks over the years on horticulture.

John Negus shares his top tips for getting your grass moss-free.

1. Deal with the shade

'Moss tends to be a problem on lawns that are shaded for a good part of the day, and on lawns where drainage is poor due to compaction,' explains John Negus. 'The best thing to do is to find out why the moss is becoming established and change the prevailing conditions.' 

If shade is the problem, and this goes for getting rid of moss on a patio or removing moss on a roof, improving light levels over the lawn will be of benefit – this could be by cutting back nearby hedges or trees.

'Otherwise, it might be a good idea to re-seed these areas with seed specifically designed for shade,' he says. 'These grasses will be more competitive with the moss and should win out.' Examples include perennial ryegrass and red fescue, or you could plant a grass seed mixture that's specifically designed for shade, such as this one from Amazon

shaded lawn with hostas

Some types of grass are better at growing in shaded areas than others

(Image credit: Zigzag Mountain Art / Alamy Stock Photo)

2. Aerate and scarify

'If high moisture levels or poor aeration are the likely causes, there are several things you can do,' John continues. 'Late winter is a good time to aerate and scarify the lawn. Scarifying will help to remove dead plant material from the lawn, so the soil and grass can breathe more easily. Aerating the soil will relieve compaction, and allow more air to the grass root zone, all of which will discourage the moss and encourage the grass. This manual Gardzen aerator from Amazon is perfect for smaller plots. If you have a large lawn, it's probably worth hiring a mechanical aerator.

'Afterwards, top dressing with good lawn topsoil may be enough to alleviate the conditions that are encouraging the mosses and you may not need to take any further action,' John says. However, it is always worth aerating on an annual basis.

Fertilizing your lawn in late winter will also benefit the grasses and encourage the strongest growth possible so they may start to out-compete the moss.

aerating a lawn

Aerating is an essential part of lawn care

(Image credit: PaulMaguire / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images)

3. Use a moss killer

'A moss killer [try Amazon for a range] will give you a short-term fix, though it may look unsightly for a few weeks,' says John Negus. 

Follow the packet instructions carefully to avoid damaging the grass. Some products require watering in after 48 hours. 

Headshot of writer Ruth Hayes
Ruth Hayes

Ruth is horticulturally trained and has qualifications from the Royal Horticultural Society. She spends her days writing about and photographing key gardening jobs, and has a wealth of knowledge on lawn care.

'When the moss has blackened and died, rake it out and compost it,' says Ruth Hayes. When composting, it's best to mix it with other ingredients to help speed up the decomposition process, as the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) advises.

'Once moss and weeds have been removed, and there are bare patches left in the lawn, you can over-seed,' Ruth continues. 'Early fall is generally the best time for this as the coming weather is cooler and damper, but you can re-sow in spring as long as you watch for weeds and keep the areas irrigated for two or three days afterward if there is little or no rain.' If the area is shaded, opt for a shade-tolerant grass seed mix, as mentioned above.

scarifying a lawn

You'll need to rake out the dead material once the moss killer has taken effect

(Image credit: David Pimborough / Alamy Stock Photo)

4. Create a DIY solution with soap

Alternatively, some experts advise using dish soap to kill moss, including Sarah Wilson, a gardens expert of Homes & Gardens.

‘Drench with a solution of dish soap diluted with water,' she suggests. 'Use a plastic spray bottle for the mixture so you can get up close and angle it accurately. The moss will turn brown and dry after a couple of days, then you can simply rake it out.’

'This solution uses an ingredient you're already likely to have in your kitchen, and it can eliminate the problem in only one day,' says Rachel Crow, a gardens expert also from Homes & Gardens.

For another DIY solution, you can use baking soda. The formula is similar: two gallons of water for a small box. 


Do you have to get rid of moss in lawns?

An immaculate stretch of verdant turf is a goal for many gardeners. But there are some benefits to letting moss grow, which are easily overlooked.

In areas where grass is tricky to establish, moss provides a green, soft and spongey alternative that looks much better than a patchy lawn – and stays looking good year-round. It can be embraced as a landscaping choice – it's a popular option for Japanese-style gardens, for instance.

What's more, it doesn't require mowing, and is less demanding when it comes to water, cutting down your maintenance time. And, it's good for wildlife gardens, too.

How should you deal with moss in lawns in winter?

Winter is tough on lawns, and moss can easily spread into well-trodden areas where the grass has stopped growing. It’s best to simply leave it, however, and deal with it in spring. Otherwise, you may damage the lawn further by walking on it as you treat it, especially in wet or frozen conditions.

Holly Crossley
Senior Content Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then; over the years, she's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator. Having worked for for two years, Holly now writes about plants and outdoor living for Homes & Gardens.