For most people, a carpet of moss beneath the trees is a lovely sight. In a yard, it can add the feel of the forest to your landscape. When that moss is on the ground, it can be a great ground cover around the base of the trees. It holds several times its weight in water, helping to keep the soil moist.
But what about moss in your trees and shrubs? Is there anything to worry about?
Should I be concerned about moss on trees and shrubs?
Because of the climate in the Pacific Northwest, moss is extremely common. When moss moves into your trees and shrubs, it tends to grow aggressively adding weight to your trees. That is one of the major reasons that moss may cause trouble. Moss growth could also lead to disease in trees that aren’t native to cool, moist habitats.
What are the major concerns with moss on trees and shrubs?
One of the greatest concerns is the weight of moss as it absorbs water. This additional weight increases the likelihood that branches will snap during a windstorm. Even trees that natively thrive in cool, damp climates suffer more wind damage when their branches carry a load of moss.
Another concern is the ability moss has to hide signs of disease. This is especially true on fruit trees where moss can cover lesions in the bark caused by pathogenic fungus. In some cases, moss could be your first indication that a fruit tree isn’t thriving. It could also be an indication that your tree isn’t planted in the right conditions for staying healthy.
What are the conditions under which moss grows?
Moss grows in conditions of low light and plenty of moisture. The damp and darkness that encourages moss growth can also lead to disease in trees that aren’t native to cool, moist habitats. This includes trees such as birch, oak and maple. This could be a warning that your tree is not receiving adequate ventilation and sunlight.
What should I do if I have moss growing on my trees and shrubs?
If you love the appearance of moss, you may choose to leave it. Yet, it is a good idea to speak with a certified arborist to ensure that moss overgrowth isn’t putting your trees and shrubs at risk. A tree preservation expert will help you determine whether you need to remove some of the conditions that are favorable to moss growth.
Should I remove moss myself?
While this is a job which may be done by the homeowner, great care is needed to ensure that you don’t harm your trees and shrubs. It’s also important to remember that even when you choose to remove the moss, this won’t change the conditions that encourage the moss to grow back. We recommend hiring an ISA Certified Arborist for this type of removal.
Often the most critical need of your trees and shrubs is appropriate pruning, a job few homeowners truly understand. A tree care specialist knows how to prune so the health of your trees and shrubs is enhanced.
Which is safer—hand moss removal or power-wash moss removal?
Removing moss by hand is the safest method for ridding your shrubs of moss. Powerwashers can easily damage sensitive leaf buds. Tree care specialists do use power washers, but they know exactly where it is safe to do so. Even in winter, it is far too easy to damage dormant leaf buds.
What is the best time to remove moss?
The best season for removing moss from your shrubs and trees is during the dormant season. The leafless branches are much easier to clean without damaging the tree. It’s a good idea to have a professional assess your trees before winter arrives, as demand for this service can make it difficult to schedule a professional moss removal if you wait.