As peak moss season hits the Pacific Northwest, many Seattleites are looking for ways to get rid of the velvety green stuff in an eco-friendly and animal-friendly way.
Chances are you already have two of the most effective solutions for fighting moss in your kitchen: baking soda and vinegar.
The reason moss thrives in the Northwest is simple. It likes humidity, shade and an acidic environment. Changing the humidity is virtually impossible and can be difficult to change the amount of shade in an area, especially in winter. This leaves the pH.
“If the idea of using a commercial moss killer isn’t for you, you have a few natural, eco-friendly alternatives,” said Derek Wing of Seattle-based PEMCO Insurance.
“If your suds problem isn’t serious, you can treat it yourself with vinegar,” he said.
During a period of dry weather, pour vinegar – any type of vinegar will do – directly on the mossy spots. You’ll want to wait for dry weather to make sure the vinegar doesn’t get washed away by the rain.
If you’re dealing with moss on a sloped roof — as opposed to a flat patio or driveway — add a few drops of vinegar dish soap to help it stick to the surface.
“Take care to keep vinegar out of the plants in your garden. In a few days, you’ll see the moss turn brown and die, and you can brush it off with a broom,” Wing said.
A contributor on Thurston Talk, a Washington-based online platform, suggests a different method, using baking soda instead:
First, gently remove the existing moss using a leaf blower or hand brush.
Once most of the suds are gone, use a spray bottle to apply a solution of at least 3 tablespoons of baking soda to a quart of water.
“You can make the mix as potent as you want depending on the density or amount of foam,” according to Crab Grass Lawn, a self-proclaimed “Wiki for Lawn Enthusiasts by Lawn Experts.”
And definitely make it stronger – more like 8 tablespoons of baking soda to a quart of water – when it comes to large plates.
Apply the solution to the moss on a hot day with no rain in sight, gently rake it up once it turns a golden brown color, and discard it.
You will need a little patience, as it can take several weeks for the moss to be eradicated. With stubborn patches, you can spray a second or third time. You can also sprinkle undiluted baking soda directly on the foam.
For moss in lawns, baking soda will work, but usually only as a temporary fix. For longer term results, soil conditions should be considered.
To do this, first test the pH of your soil. Acidic soil can be corrected by adding limestone. Treating alkaline soils requires products like sphagnum peat moss, elemental sulfur, aluminum sulfate, iron sulfate, acidifying nitrogen and organic mulches, according to Grove Collaborative.
To prevent moss growth, you can correct drainage problems on a lawn by filling low areas with topsoil, reseeding and then watering only as needed. You can also rent or buy aerators. Mowing your lawn regularly but being careful not to cut the grass too short can also help prevent moss growth.