Moss: Pest or Purpose?

November 6, 2019

Domestic and commercial customers frequently ask us to remove moss.

When moss grows on paving it is slippery when it’s wet creating a health and safety issue. When it grows in your lawns, it’s a sign that something in the environment isn’t right for the grass. Elsewhere, some consider it pretty, others may not. But what is it for?

I wasn’t sure of was the actual purpose of moss so I decided to do some research. After all, everything in our ecosystem has a purpose… or does it?

What is moss?

Noun: a small flowerless green plant which lacks trueroots, growing in low carpets or rounded cushions in damp habitats andreproducing by means of spores released from stalked capsules.

Mosses are important ecologically as one of the first colonisers of bare ground. They absorb huge quantities of water, helping to soak up rainfall and create a locally humid environment. They also act as an important home for other creatures. These are mainly invertebrates and include species like woodlice and slugs.

In my garden, moss is constantly ‘on the move’as the blackbirds tug it up looking for a tasty meal underneath. 

What is the purpose of moss?

There are around 12,000 species of moss although it has no 'purpose' except to live where it can and make more moss.

Moss has a role to play in forests where it forms a carpet that will slow down drainage and retain water. This in turn, reduces soil erosion and helps prevent water loss during dry periods.

Like any plant, moss may be considered a weed when its presence is in an undesirable location. The very same properties that serve a purpose in woodland areas, can also be problematic in gardens and other cultivated spaces by inhibiting seedling emergence the penetration of water and fertilizers to plant roots.

Moss removal

Moss can be removed from grass and soft areas through raking and scarifying. However, if the conditions that led to it growing in the first place remain, it will grow back over time.

Removal from hard surfaces requires a different approach and whilst chemicals are one option, they aren't always necessary.

Moss that’s been removed from lawns or other areas can be a useful addition to the compost pile and is a major constituent of peat. It can act as an alternative to mulch and when you look carefully at some of thedifferent types they are very pretty! In fact, it is frequently used for decorative purposes so if you know a florist they might be happy for you to pass it on to them.

In need of moss removal?

If moss is making your footpaths slippery, don’t wait until someone suffers a nasty fall before taking action. Call 023 8063 2600 or click Contact Us to find out how CJ Garden Services can help you.