Why is Moss Growing in My Yard?

why is moss growing in my yard

If you’ve spent a lot of time and money on your yard’s lawn only for patches of moss to appear, it can feel like a losing battle. There are thousands of species of moss, but all share one characteristic – they are opportunistic and grow on lawns with little to no encouragement.

Thankfully there are ways in which you can prevent moss on your grass, but before you do that, it’s important to understand why moss is growing in your yard.

Moss growing in your yard due to reasons including excessive shade, poor soil, compacted earth, inadequate drainage, and wet conditions. Moss can grow every winter, with your entire lawn or backyard grass getting covered.

That’s a very brief explanation, and not every reason will be why you specifically have peat moss growing in your yard, but it’s bound to be one or a combination of.

The best way to why you have moss in the yard, and it’s causes, is to skip through them all below. By doing so you can decide on the best course of treatment for yard moss. 

I will say though, I’ve left an example lower down the page where a guy let his develop into a moss lawn, and it looks great!

Moss grows in yards without too much encouragement (https://unsplash.com/photos/Dvuq07ADN3c)

Why is moss growing in my backyard?

1. There’s been lots of rain

One sure fire way to guarantee moss growth in a backyard is rain. When you see moss developing on your lawn, it’s a sign that it’s too wet.

If you live in an area where it’s been raining for months on end and very little sun and dry weather, then your yard will be susceptible to moss growth. 

Rain will also help to encourage excessive moss in a yard, as it helps to spread the spores from which moss grows. 

2. Poor drainage and compacted soil

The moss growing in your yard will multiply if you have very hard and compacted soil. The moss will further multiply if there is poor drainage. 

You see this a lot in yards on hills, as rocky and heavily compacted soil is more common. It means grass cannot root properly, so moss grows on the thin soil instead. 

If the soil is hard, water will collect on top and will struggle to drain away. This poor drainage is the perfect environment as the water gets stagnant, meaning moss grows in your yard quicker than if you had effective drainage. 

The bottom line is that moss has very short roots so thrives on compacted, low fertility soil in a backyard where water is present. 

3. Lack of maintenance and care

It’s not what you want to hear, but you’re responsible in some part for the moss growing in your yard. The lawn needs care and attention such as aerating the soil and scarifying the grass. Without this treatment, moss can grow.

How you mow your lawn can also affect the amount of moss in your yard. For example, if you cut the grass too short in summer months, it can leave the yard’s lawn weak and patchy. This gives moss an opportunity to get into the lawn and start to spread. 

4. Your yard has poor soil and air circulation

If you don’t have good fertile soil with nutrition, this can result in the pH being too low. The soil will be acidic, leading to increased moss growth in your yard. This is due to there being very thin grass in that area which gives moss the opportunity to grow and thrive.

Moss also thrives in backyards which have lots of damp areas with minimal air movement, also known as poor air circulation.

If your backyard has high fencing, lots of trees, and does not get wind coming through it, it might be contributing to the moss on the lawn. 

5. Excessive shade

On a similar tip, moss is also growing in my backyard due to too much shade. A lack of sunlight can result in a invasion of yard moss. As a result, moss appears more regularly in your yard during winter, as sunlight isn’t as bright.

There will be some shade you can manage, for example cutting back trees. But you won’t be able to do anything if a building is putting your yard in the shade and making moss grow.

But what about those who ask why moss growing in a sunny yard?

Well, take shade out of the equation, and the other yard moss causes still come into play such as compacted soil, neglect, and poor drainage.

Is moss bad for your yard?

Moss is not your enemy and is only bad for your yard if you want healthy and manicured grass to grow which is unhindered by moss growth. Moss will suffocate the areas that grass could be growing in.

So, the question isn’t really whether moss is bad for a yard, but more whether moss is bad for grass… which it is. 

Many people I know actually like moss growth in their yard and will let it grow. If you keep the leaves off it, it can grow just fine and can look very neat. You also don’t have to cut it like you do with grass, which is a benefit for those lazy gardeners amongst you!

For example, in my friend’s yard he lets moss grow around his flagstones and he says it adds to the beauty of them. 

You could consider a moss lawn

There’s a great video below which I encourage you to watch. It shows a guy who was tired of reseeding the grass in his yard every year and the battle he had with moss growing. 

He decided to let the moss grow and within one year had a stunning moss lawn in his backyard. 

Now instead of having a grass lawn that has to be seeded, fertilized, watered, and mowed, he’s down to having to do virtually no maintenance. 

How do I keep moss from growing in my yard?

Now you know why moss is growing in your yard, you might consider leaving it and having a moss lawn like the guy in the video above.

However, if you want to stop moss from spreading in your yard, and kill it off completely, here’s my advice to you – because if it’s not treated, it will spread.

You can start spraying it, but sprays will contain iron sulphate, so I prefer to try the cultural practices first before you start spraying chemicals in your yard.

Cultural treatment of yard moss

  1. Rake the moss out of the lawn. This works best when the lawn is damp. 
  2. Don’t cut the grass on your lawn any lower than 40 to 50mm in warm and dry months. This will prevent patches appearing and weaknesses where moss can exploit.
  3. Cut back any heavy shade such as over-hanging trees or bushes. Pruning foliage like this will also improve the air circulation in your yard. 
  4. Make sure you have a regular process for aerating and scarifying.
  5. Raise the pH level of the soil by adding limestone. 

Chemical treatment of yard moss

If all else fails, the next route could be the nuclear option. Bear in mind though that it’s really just a short-term solution, and moss can grow back in your yard if you haven’t addressed the causes I’ve already explained.

If you do choose the chemical route, this moss killer on Amazon contains nutrients and is said to kill moss, and not grass.


Moss is very common in backyards where you don’t get much sun, lots of rain, have shade, and if I’m honest, where the lawn has been neglected.

If you want to get rid of the moss, you will have some hard work to do, but for those who prefer healthy grass, it’s worth it.

However, I would seriously consider a moss lawn. It’s low maintenance, and not bad for your yard at all. 

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Image of moss used in header from https://unsplash.com/photos/I_Cg0Bd3y6M