I am including a correspondence that I recently had with a friend who has a tenant who wants to get rid of the moss on their land. I thought it was a conversation to share as many people have the same question. It can also be used to reason with a spouse or neighbor who might not understand why products that you put on the lawn to kill moss as well as the ones that feed the lawn and kills the broad leaf weeds are truly working against the environment and us.
I often will ask folks, “What do you like to do in your spare time? Fish, golf,,,? Wouldn’t it be much better spending time and money on fishing gear or bucket of balls than on Moss-out and mowing your lawn?” I swear that there are times I see the “light click on” in their eyes.
Fyi, I use these same comments when I do community garden clinics. However, as a representative of a certain organization, I am not supposed to discourage the use of “approved” products. My answer is to take that with a grain of salt and take my response to the edge of what is acceptable to them. For me, it’s about doing what’s right for the environment and our health.
Question that was sent to me:
“Our neighbor/tenant wants to put “moss out, weed & feed mix” on the lawn to start shifting our “moss problem”. We definitely are mostly moss at this point.”
“Great question my friend,
I get this question all of the time, especially in the spring.
Here are my responses based on what the person is looking for. I start with my ideal first, starting with what I would like to see first (no chemicals) to responses dealing with those who want a weed-free golf course.
1). “Why do you want the moss gone? Are you aware that moss out is full of toxic chemicals that will run down in to the river below you? Weed and feed is expensive and forces you to mow more and more. Spreading compost over the lawn is a lot better and non-toxic. The grass will grow up through it. If you choose to use Weed and Feed be sure to read through the label completely and follow the instructions exactly. It is a actually a legal document for agreement of use because the ingredients are highly toxic to humans and much of the environment.”
“Moss is green, soft, you don’t have to water it, mow it or fertilize it. It is pleasant to walk on too. Have you ever thought about enjoying the moss?
Indicators of moss in the lawn are: high acid and moist area, usually not a ton of sun but not always. Knowing that, maybe you would want to work with nature and what is already happening there. It will save you time and energy.”
2) “Do you like Blueberries? If it is sunny there, blueberries love moist soil and acid. This might be a great alternative as you can have a perennial food that is great for you, gives beautiful red fall color and takes almost no maintenance. Just rake under them in the fall and mulch with compost for the first few years to keep weeds off of their shallow roots. Once they are established, they will shade out weeds.”
3) “Raised beds might be a good alternative. If it’s not real sunny there, you can grow lettuce, spinach, beets, radishes, carrots, turnips, broccoli etc. If it’s sunny, you can grow those and many others. It can make a great community resource and community-building opportunity.”
4) “Is it very wet in the area? Consider a rain garden. They are beautiful year round and take no maintenance once established properly. Contact your extension office for help and instructions.”
5) “Okay, none of those appeal to you? Call your local extension office and get information on Natural Lawns. They will give you resources and information.” Snohomish WSU Extension is 425-338-2400.
Okay, that’s how I respond to this really common question. Yes, it’s a lot but it’s a process of education and awareness in working with community. This is the main reason I take part in community clinics, infiltrate the system and shift the thinking on how we do things.
Be well and Happy Spring!