Garden News

Silver Thread Moss

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This highly competitive nuisance is the most common in the Bryaceae (moss) family. It can grow in nearly every climate and is native to just about every country. Since it is a global problem, one would expect controls would be readily available; however, this is not the case. The reproduction method of moss makes it difficult to eradicate. Moss can reproduce either sexually, with the transfer of genetic material, or asexually, when a bit of one moss breaks off and starts to grow to form another. Oddly, the commercial cultivation of the plant often results in failure making it by definition a weed. Although products exist that claim good control, they cannot do the job on their own. These products need the assistance of culture change in order to be effective.

This primitive perennial plant establishes itself in areas of moist, compacted soils that are often accompanied by shade. It is often thought that putting limestone on the area will cure the problem. Although it is true the plant does like a more acidic environment, this is not its only motivating factor. Like every green plant, it loves nitrates and water just like the grass we are trying to maintain. So, in essence, we are both fighting it and promoting its existence.

Remedies: In order to control this aggressive parasite, conditions of the site will need to change. In most cases three things need to occur before moderate control can be established. Reducing moisture, reducing shade, and reducing compaction are all important first steps in this battle. Ironically, gaining more sunlight often will cure the excessive moisture problem. If this is not the case then following some simple watering rules can help. For home lawns, deep watering less frequently is better for the grass and will usually be more cost effective as well. One component of professional lawn care should include a soil test as turf grass enjoys a pH level higher than moss. Correcting soil thru aeration and soil amending should also help. Once these three corrections have been made, the moss will be at a disadvantage and then the moss control products can be highly productive. We use a product designed for control of moss called “Quick Silver.” It can be effective if the cultural conditions have been corrected.