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When a property owners finds that moss is growing in the lawn instead of grass, it creates the illusion that the moss is killing the grass. In reality the soil conditions in the lawn are not favorable for growing grass, so the moss is flourishing in the area where grass was expected to grow.

Though the exact soil conditions required for the different varieties of grass to grow well may vary, usually these conditions are exactly the opposite of the ideal conditions for the moss to flourish. Some of the reasons why moss replaces grass in lawns are discussed below.

Soil drainage

If the soil is not well drained the water will accumulate in the soil. This can damage the roots of the grass, causing root rot, due to which the grass will wilt and die.

However moss absorbs moisture through the leaves, the roots are only for attaching the moss to the surface. Moss can also absorb a large amount of water like a sponge. So for soil without drainage, grass roots will rot, while moss with grow fast.

Soil pH

Usually most varieties of grass with flourish if the soil pH is slightly alkaline, and will not grow in acidic soil. In contrast, moss will grow well in slightly acidic soil with pH 5.5 considered to be the ideal pH of the soil. It is possible to add some chemicals to soil with a low pH to increase the pH.

However, it is advisable to check the pH first before deciding on whether the chemicals are actually required. In a few cases, the lawn soil is not fertile enough, so the grass may not grow. Moss can flourish even in infertile soil .


Typically grass will grow well only if it gets enough sunlight, usually at least 4-6 hours daily. If the lawn is in a shaded area, covered with tree branches, it will not get enough sunlight, due to which the grass will not grow well.

In contrast shaded areas are ideal for moss, which requires less sunlight for photosynthesis and also grows faster, so the moss may cover the ground, making it difficult for the grass to grow.

Compacted soil

In some cases, the soil may become compacted because people are walking over, or it is not well aerated. So the grass roots may not get the air they require for growing properly.

In moss the roots are only anchoring the plant to the soil, all the nutrients are obtained through the leaves. So if the lawn is not well aerated, the grass may be replaced by the moss which grows well even on compacted soil, rocks, trees and other similar surfaces.


Property owners invest time and money to ensure that grass will grow well in their lawn. However, they often find that instead of grass, moss is growing in their lawn and feel that the moss has killed the grass.

In reality it is the soil conditions and lack of sunlight which is real reason why grass is not growing, and moss grows fast.