Moss and Algae

September 25, 2018
  • Moss Algea

Moss and Algae

Moss and algae infestations in turf are indicative of poor drainage or air circulation, dense shade or waterlogged soils. Both organisms thrive under excessively fertilized or irrigated turf. They are both patches of green plant life, but they are two different species. They each have their own distinct characteristics and qualities.


Moss is classified as a bryophyte, or a type of tiny plant that survives in moist but land-based conditions. Surprisingly, mosses directly developed from algae 350 million years ago.

Moss is a light green, low-growing collection of plants which feel velvety when touched. It is normally found growing on bare soil in damp, shaded turf areas. It grows well within grassy lawns or on the surface of trees, soil and even brickwork.


Algae has a classification of its own and are single-celled plants that grow in clusters.

Algae appears as a green to black, slimy scum that covers both bare soil and thin turf areas. Control methods range from aggressive raking to chemical applications. These approaches, however, are short-term at best. It usually does not grow in dry locations. It grows as brown or green scum of the surface of ponds and waterways. It favors extremely wet lawns with poor drainage and standing pools of water on turf or in landscaping.


For permanent eradication, it is important to identify and eliminate the condition which are favoring their growth. For example, fertilizing your lawn will help if you have a moss issue. Trees that provide a lot of shade can be cut back to allow more sun to prevent moss. If algae are your issue, excess nitrogen can cause algae to grow and thrive. Since poor drainage can create a favorable environment for algae to grow, you can redirect any downspouts to prevent water from pooling.