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Your guide to Chesaeake Country's freshest produce and more!

Is Your Yard Gathering Moss?

Three ways to eliminate it and one way to grow it

Wet springs and summers bring moss. Mosses like to grow in cool moist places and on soils and organic matter tending to acidic.

    If moss is growing in your lawn, most likely the soil is acidic. Raising the pH to above 6.0 will help your lawn grow better and discourage the growth of moss. Have your soil tested (read back to my advice on September 26) and add lime as specified in the recommendations. 
    Mosses also thrive in shade. Wouldn’t moss under trees and shrubs be a nice alternative to mulch? It’s not so easy. To grow uniformly, mosses prefer conditions most landscape plants won’t tolerate. I can’t recommend growing moss as a substitute ground cover because of its adverse effect on the growth of higher green plants.

Seaweed in the Garden

 
Q Is there any botanical use for powdered seaweed? The previous owner of my house left a large sack (about 40 pounds) that she said was “good for gardening.” It’s about the consistency of flour. Do you know of anything I could do with it to improve soil, lawn or potted plants?
–Karen, via email

 

 

A Seaweed is a source of trace elements and potassium. The levels of nutrients are so low that even when applied in very high concentrations, it is nearly impossible to kill plants. I recommend that you empty the bag into your compost bin.
    There have been all kinds of beneficial claims made by organic gardeners about seaweed as a soil amendment. But when compared to yard-debris compost, the data showed no additional benefits from using seaweed alone.
    My dad, who lived in Maine, collected seaweeds from the nearby beach and added it to his compost pile. By spring, the seaweed had decomposed adequately to be applied on the garden along with the rest of the compost. Dad had a great garden, and I attribute his success to his liberal use of compost.
    There have been all kinds of beneficial claims made by organic gardeners about seaweed as a soil amendment. But when compared to yard-debris compost, the data showed no additional benefits from using seaweed alone.
    My dad, who lived in Maine, collected seaweeds from the nearby beach and added it to his compost pile. By spring, the seaweed had decomposed adequately to be applied on the garden along with the rest of the compost. Dad had a great garden, and I attribute his success to his liberal use of compost.
 
Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at DR.FRGouin@gmail.com.  
All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

    Japanese gardeners are the exception. They succeed in growing mosses under well-established, deep-rooted trees by blending peat moss with finely milled conifer bark as mulch before plugging in the moss. Peat moss and milled conifer bark both have a low pH and hold water well. The mulch is generally spread at least four inches thick, and plugs of moss are scattered through the area. The mulch and plugged pieces of moss are kept moist by misting the area three to four times a day until the plugs of moss expand. Once the moss appears to be well established, the number of waterings and amount of water applied can be reduced.

    Patios and walkways often favor the growth of moss. You have a choice of two ways to remove it. You can sprinkle hydrated limestone on the stones or brick and sweep the limestone into the cracks between the stones. But the limestone leaves a white residue, especially if it is applied too heavily and not thoroughly washed.
    Mosses can also be controlled by spraying the area with iron sulfate. Use three tablespoons of iron sulfate per gallon of water and apply as a fine mist spray. The moss will turn brown in a few days and die within a week.
    Don’t try herbicide sprays. Mosses are generally immune to them.