It's highly likely that one of the backyard maintenance chores you need to do right now is to get rid of moss from your patio. Most patios have a moss problem somewhere – it will grow wherever there's an opportunity for it to root, often between pavers or on the surface of slabs where a little soil has been blown over winter, and where it is damp, humid and shady.
Getting rid of moss from pavers needs a different approach to getting rid of moss in lawns. If anything, it's easier to spot and control moss on a hard surface. And while you might find moss (and algae, lichen and liverwort) covering walls and statues charming to look at, and perhaps even actively grow a moss garden in another part of your yard, you will want to remove moss quickly from a patio because it is a slip hazard that only gets worse over time.
There are many different ways to get rid of moss from patios, from commercial moss killers to more eco-friendly approaches. Key is continued vigilance and maintenance because it is not a problem you fix the once and never have to worry about again. Here, Homes & Gardens' garden experts give their top tips for patio moss removal.
What causes moss on a patio?
'Cool, damp, and shady conditions encourage the growth of algae and moss, whether this is on a lawn, a patio, or a driveway,’ says H&G's Senior Content Editor (Gardens) Holly Crossley.
Understanding the causes of moss can help you prevent its return. Moss thrives on damp, humid and wet conditions, so if the weather has been particularly wet, and your patio's drainage is poor in places, you will notice a build up there. You may have the same problem of having to remove moss on a roof for exactly the same reasons.
Or, perhaps there's a dripping faucet outside that is causing moss build up? Moss also thrives in shade. There's little you can do about that on a north-facing patio, other than keep up with the maintenance we suggest below, but if your or your neighbor's trees are causing deep shade, whatever your patio's orientation, this will help to create the perfect environment for moss.
Over the years, Holly has been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator. Having worked for Gardeningetc.com for two years, she now writes about plants and outdoor living for Homes & Gardens. Holly has a particular interest in houseplants (of which she has an ever-growing collection), garden design, and the benefits of gardening for mental health.
How do I get rid of moss on my pavers?
As with all gardening problems, prevention is always better than cure. 'The best thing to do is to find out why the moss is becoming established and change the prevailing conditions,' advises garden expert John Negus.
‘You may need to look into improving the drainage of your patio, if possible,’ Holly Crossley adds. ‘This could be by installing permeable paving or gravel, or adding drainage channels. Before you do so, though, double check any existing drains and ensure they’re not blocked with debris.'
As Holly says, you could simply need to improve a patio's drainage by unblocking a drain of dead leaves, or ensuring the flowerbeds or lawn surrounding it aren't compacted, which slows drain-off of rain water. Aerating a lawn and digging over flower beds will be jobs to add to your list if this is the case.
Fixing a leaky faucet will slow down or stop the growth of moss, algae, lichen and liverwort, too, and John recommends pruning any overhanging plants. This will improve the airflow and allow more sunlight to reach the area.
That done, the next goal is to remove moss from a patio without damaging it. This is how.
John has been a garden journalist for over 50 years and regularly answers readers' questions for Homes & Gardens and in Amateur Gardening magazine. He has also written four books and has delivered many talks over the years on horticulture.
1. Remove moss as soon as you see it
As with many garden weeds, vigilant maintenance is all. Allowing moss patches to appear on a patio without tackling them ignores the fact that they will root and grow quickly, and before you know it, you have a whole-day moss-removal task on your hands.
So, as soon as you see moss appear, get outside with a stiff or wire broom to dislodge it, then dispose of it. If it's stubborn, use a sharp gardening knife along joints in pavers and under the moss to dislodge it. Doing this on a dry day, before the moss has rooted, is the best way to remove it from a patio without damaging the sand in the joints between the pavers.
2. Use a pressure washer
'Regularly cleaning your patio, or driveway for that matter, is one of the easiest ways to keep it free of moss and other weeds, and early spring is the perfect time to get on top of this cleaning task,' says Beth Murton, Homes & Gardens' Head of Gardens. 'A pressure washer and a stiff broom are great tools for the job.'
Note the use of the word 'regularly' in that advice from Beth: if you allow debris, whether spilt compost, mulch, leaves or dust, that has been blown across the yard to gather, the moss will continue to return to your patio, grateful for somewhere to root.
A word of caution when using a pressure washer and one of the biggest patio cleaning mistakes to avoid: don't hold the nozzle too close to the stone and the joints especially, and don't over-use this piece of kit. Doing so in both cases can damage the surface of the stone over time, blast sand from the joints, and remove any existing seal, making the pavers more porous, and therefore more welcoming to moss growth in future.
Also, if your moss build up is caused by damp conditions, be aware that pressure washing is best done when a dry spell is due to give the pavers a good chance of drying out thoroughly after cleaning.
Beth has been writing about homes and gardens for over 20 years, contributing to a number of leading magazines, including Real Homes, 4Homes, Period Living and Grand Designs. In 2020, Beth took on the role of launch Editor in Chief of Gardeningetc.com, a website dedicated to gardening and outdoor living. At the start of 2023, she moved to Homes & Gardens as the Head of Gardens, bringing her passion and knowledge for all things outdoors to our team.
3. Use a commercial moss killer
'You can use a commercial moss killer, although these generally need repeat applications,' John Negus adds. 'Be sure to follow the instructions on the label carefully, as they can differ from product to product.'
Our Head of Gardens Beth Murton recommends Wet and Forget outdoor surface cleaner from Amazon 'This combined with some serious elbow grease should do the trick,' she says.
However, be sure to target the area where the moss is and not the planted areas around, since its chemical components won't do your lawn or plants any favors.
Wet & Forget, $34.99, Amazon
This patio cleaner removes moss and other green and black stains caused by mold, mildew and algae. Simply apply, and leave to work its magic. Can also be used on your driveway, roof, siding, deck, vinyl, wood, concrete, canvas, aluminum, and upholstery.
Ruth Hayes is the gardening editor of Amateur Gardening magazine. She has a qualification from the Royal Horticultural Society. Her work for Homes & Gardens and Amateur Gardening, the world's oldest weekly gardening publication, involves matching gardening tasks with each season, covering everything from sowing and planting, to pruning, taking cuttings, dealing with pests and diseases and keeping houseplants healthy. She also spends time testing many of the new products that arrive on the gardening market.
4. Use lawn sand
Lawn Sand isn't just sand: it's one part iron sulphate, three parts ammonia sulphate and 20 parts dry sand, and it can be used to kill moss without killing grass bordering the patio.
Sprinkle it on, it will kill moss on patio, and broadleaf weeds too. Once they have turned black you can simply remove them, then sweep or hose off the sand.
Having a hand held brush for all the moss removal techniques we've suggested above can allow you to get into awkward corners and to apply more pressure when needed.
5. Seal the pavers
Sealing pavers won't stop moss growing on a patio but it will make its growth slower. Armor's AR350 (below) is the most highly rated buy on Amazon.
Armor AR350 Solvent Based Acrylic Wet Look Concrete Sealer and Paver Sealer, $224.39, Amazon
Armor's AR350 paver sealer is a breathable, non-yellowing solvent-based acrylic that will darken concrete and pavers to make them look wet, and provide a long lasting, durable low gloss finish.
How to get rid of moss on tarmac?
To get rid of moss on tarmac, brush it with a stiff or wire broom, or use a pressure washer. If these methods don't work, use a proprietary moss killer, such as Wet & Forget.
How do I get rid of moss on my patio naturally?
To get rid of moss naturally, ensure drainage is good, that there are no leaking drains, faucets or gutters that make the patio wet, and that trees or overhanging plants are cut back to allow as much sunlight on to the patio as possible. Then, simply take a stiff or wire broom to the patio to remove moss, using a sharp knife where it has rooted firmly into joints.
Does vinegar remove moss from a patio?
You can use vinegar as you would a moss killer on patio pavers to remove it. Simply wait for a dry spell, dilute white vinegar half and half with water, then spray on to the moss. Leave for a few days to allow the moss to die off, then brush it off and compost. Be careful not to allow the vinegar on to the lawn or flowerbeds, as it will damage grass and plants.
Does baking soda remove moss from a patio?
Baking soda, sprinkled on to wet moss can be left to kill the moss, though it isn't that easy to wash off pavers afterwards, so look to better solutions, such as a stiff broom, a pressure washer, moss killer or vinegar.
Can you use washing powder to remove moss?
You can use biological washing powder and use dish soap to kill moss by simply sprinkling it liberally over. As with other moss-removal methods, consider though, the impact on plants nearby, wildlife, and how you will remove the powder remnants from the pavers afterwards. There are simpler remedies, such as removal with a broom or knife, that allow you to simply compost the dead moss.
Once you have removed the moss from your patio, the best option is to allow it to die (it will curl up a little and turn black). That done, it can be simply added to your compost. Failing that, put live moss into the trash with the rest of your garden waste.
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Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property and gardens since 1990, working her way around the interiors departments of women's magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-nineties. She was Associate Editor on Ideal Home, and Launch Editor of 4Homes magazine, before moving into digital in 2007, launching Channel 4's flagship website, Channel4.com/4homes. In 2018, Lucy took on the role of Global Editor in Chief for Realhomes.com, taking the site from a small magazine add-on to a global success. She was asked to repeat that success at Homes & Gardens, where she has also taken on the editorship of the magazine.
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