Can you compost moss?

Close up of moss
Moss can be a tricky customer when it comes to getting rid of it from your garden. The good news is you can compost it, which makes it less of a hindrance and more of a sustainable growth aid.

Moss: can it be composted?

Moss has been around for millions of years. As a species, these tiny plants have survived through drastic climate changes and continually learn to adapt to their surroundings. They can thrive in diverse habitats, from hot and arid deserts to dark and damp caves. 

They don’t have roots, unlike most other plants. Instead they have tiny hairlike structures called rhizoids, which absorb moisture and minerals from the rain or water in their nearby environment. 

This is what makes moss so resilient, and explains why it doesn’t just die when you remove it from your lawn, flowerbeds or patio. So your best option might be to compost it.


Moss has been around for millions of years


How long will it take to compost moss?

Composting moss is a slow process, so will require patience. It can take three more or years for the moss to properly compost.That’s because, when moss gets raked out of a lawn or scraped off a harder surface, it doesn’t simply die. It’s a tough, resilient species. So to kill it completely and effectively takes time.

How to compost moss

First of all, you need to get rid of the moss itself. There are different methods for treating moss depending on where your moss issue lies. For example, treating moss on a tarmac driveway will differ to getting rid of moss on your lawn. For this post we’ll focus on composting moss from your garden and lawn. 

The process used to remove moss from lawns is called scarification, which involves thoroughly raking the moss. Once you’ve raked the moss into a pile, you can gather it in a strong bag, or multiple bags if need be.

Now, you might assume to compost moss you can just put it in a normal composter. But the problem is this isn’t guaranteed to kill or decompose the moss. In fact, it may appear dead or decomposed but it can often start to regrow within a day or two.

So your best option is to store the moss in a separate moss compost bin. You’ll need to add soil and grass mowings to the bin to help break down the moss, because it produces special aromatics and phenols as a way of surviving. These can only be broken down by specialist bacteria, found in the soil under lawns or flower beds, which naturally won’t be present in your moss compost bin. It’s also more effective to use a hot compost moss bin in order to sustain a temperature that will kill the moss.

Best time of year to compost moss

High temperatures can be an effective way of killing moss. The moss you find in your garden can often survive in frozen conditions, so hoping for the winter frost to kill it won’t work.

Therefore a good time of year to treat and compost moss would naturally be summer, when the temperature tends to be warmer and there are often chances of experiencing heat waves. In recent years, this has certainly been the case in the UK. However, that shouldn’t stop you from tackling your moss problem all year round, as if you wait purely to compost moss in the summer then the moss has more time to grow. Many people remove moss from their lawns in autumn or spring.