Dakota Murphey, How To, Weeding

Every day when you come home from work you look up and notice the dark green patches of moss growing on your roof. It’s an eyesore and you’d like to get rid of it. You’re free this weekend and decide it’s the perfect odd-job for you to tackle. But before you rush into the garage, grab you ladder and shimmy up onto the roof, read on, as we’ve come up with some great tips to help you get rid of that moss safely and easily.

Tackling unsightly moss

What is this stuff we call moss?

Moss is a green, flowerless plant that has no true roots. It grows in low mounds or rounded cushions in shady, damp and wet habitats – it loves dark, cool, moist areas. Because it has no root system, it needs a damp environment to thrive. When leaves and grit are blown onto a roof and are lodged there for some time, they begin to decay and this provides the perfect ‘growing bed’ for spores of lichens, weeds and moss that are carried in the wind and blown onto them.

Should we clean moss off our roofs?

Some experts say that moss doesn’t cause a problem, but many others differ. ‘Moss only needs to be removed if it causes gutters, outlets, and other drainage points to be blocked, otherwise it can remain,’ say some. But others say that moss shouldn’t be allowed to grow and build up. Why? Because moss build-up could be one of the reasons for roof problems including raised tiles, leaks and damp.

As moss grows and thickens on your roof, it can cause lifting of the roof tiles, and when this occurs rain water can easily pass under them onto the roof timbers of your home and start to rot the wood. Water can also run down the interior walls of your house and cause serious damp and mould problems.

Raised roof tiles are also a danger in heavy winds – tiles can catch the wind like a sail, blow off the roof and cause serious injury to someone below. You’ll also be missing some tiles so there’ll be exposed areas on the roof, and you’ll need to replace these pretty quickly before it rains again. The more moss that grows and accumulates on your roof, the more debris that is trapped there. This invariably results in a build-up of water, and will leave your roof at risk of leakage and rotted timbers.

Roof moss

There are 3 factors that promote the growth of moss:

  • A cool or cold, moist climate combined with dark and/or shade.
  • An acidic environment where the pH level is between 5.0 and 5.5.
  • A hard surface like roof tiles – moss loves growing on these.

How to kill and prevent moss from growing on your roof?

There are a number of things you can do to prevent moss from growing on your roof. Here are some of the basic ones plus a few others you may not have heard of before but do the job very well.

  • Keep the roof out of the shade and in as much sunlight as possible. This may mean removing some tree branches, or even felling some trees.
  • At the crest of the roof ridges, fit some copper or zinc strips.
  • At varying intervals, string some copper wire across the roof, using screws or nails driven into timber on the sides of the roof (don’t drive them into the tiles as they could crack them and cause leaks).
  • Don’t let the dirt build up – keep the roof free of any leaves, dirt and debris.
  • Try to make the area extremely acidic (above a pH 7 level). There are roof spray products on the market you can use.
  • If you’re not exactly sure what to do, then hire a professional moss removal company to deal with the problem.

What shouldn’t I do to remove moss?

Finally, here are 3 key things you shouldn’t do to remove moss:

  1. Pressure washing your roof is not recommended as this can shorten the lifespan of your roof. The high-powered jet spray removes the asphalt tile granules which help protect your roof tiles. Also, if you spray at an upward angle, water will get in underneath the tiles, which can cause damp and wood-rot problems. Other gutter cleaning methods are advised however.
  2. Be circumspect when using acids to remove moss. If the acidic mixture is too strong, or it remains on the roof too long, it will eat away at the granules of your tiles. It’s a good idea to first test the solution on a few spare tiles before applying it to the entire roof.
  3. Don’t try to scrape moss off the roof, as this can result in cracked or broken tiles.

And finally, if you’d actually like to grow more moss in your garden you can read our tips on cultivating moss.

Dakota Murphey

Dakota Murphey is an independent content writer who regularly contributes to the horticulture industry. She enjoys nothing more than pottering around her gardening in the sunshine. Find out what else Dakota has been up to on Twitter, @Dakota_Murphey.

Gardening, George, How To, Planting

How to Grow Moss in Your Garden

Is your garden in need of a design shake up? Do you dream of smooth rolling lawns, but without the hassle of maintaining them? Then perhaps a moss carpet would be a great alternative for you, either across the whole of your garden or for a particular area. Contrary to popular belief, many types of moss can actually grow in the sun as well as the shade, so there’s no need to limit where you can place your moss garden. The key is to look for moss that’s growing in similar conditions to your chosen location when you’re picking samples to transplant. In this guide you’ll learn how to grow moss in your garden with just a few simple steps.

Preparing the area

Pretty much all soil types are suitable for growing moss, except the most sandy soils as these might not be stable enough. Begin by clearing the intended area of any remaining grass, leaves and other debris. Smooth out the soil but feel free to leave curves, bumps and ridges in as desired. Remember that moss clings very closely to the shape of the ground, so any landscaping will be clearly visible. Lightly scratch the earth with a rake to make it easier for the transplanted moss to gain a grip.

Gathering moss

In order to grow a new moss lawn, we’re relying on the natural ability of moss to grow outwards and cover a horizontal area. All you need are samples of living moss to expand and cover your chosen ground. As mentioned earlier, the best way to pick the type of moss that will grow best is to look for some growing in similar conditions – soil type, shading and access to moisture. Obviously ask permission if you’re going to take samples from somewhere outside of your own garden. Scrape some moss from the ground or trees at the original location using a trowel or spatula. This will be easiest when the moss is slightly damp, so go out after a rainfall or spray it with some water yourself. Once you have your sample split it up into lots of small pieces – enough fragments as you can to get good initial coverage of your intended area.

Transplanting Moss

Transplanting the moss

Start by wetting the earth you’ve prepared, though be careful just to make it damp to the touch rather than completely waterlogged. Then push the small fragments of moss into the dirt, not spread out too sparsely but enough so that the whole area is fairly well covered. If you’re worried about the pieces shifting, you can secure them in place with netting or pins to start with.

Settling in

After the transplant it’s important to water the moss regularly – at least a few times a day. Spray the whole moss lawn lightly with water, using a fine head on the hose or a spray bottle for smaller areas. Keep pressing the fragments down, either with your hands or by walking over them. Be aware that it will take some time for the moss to acclimatise and expand to fill in all the gaps. But soon enough you will be enjoying a rich, smooth, spongy lawn all year round.

Moss has great potential to really enhance your garden and differentiate it from a standard turf lawn, which can often be a struggle to keep looking healthy and trimmed. Whether you want a natural secluded cove at the end of the garden or just a place to lay out in the sun, a moss lawn is definitely worth considering. You can transplant the moss any time of year, just keep in mind any falling leaves and adjust your watering depending on the weather. Remember to choose moss suited to your intended place, and you can find varieties that will thrive in shade or sun. A lot of moss is also drought tolerant, all it needs to grow well initially is constant moisture and a lack of competition from other plants.

If you do decide to take the plunge and try out growing moss in your garden, please get in touch and let us know how you get on!

George at PrimroseGeorge works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.

George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!

He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.

See all of George’s posts.

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