How To Naturally Remove Moss From Trees
Finding moss growth on trees is highly common in Washington and Oregon because of our rainy, wet climate. A common question that homeowners ask us is whether moss on trees is dangerous to tree health.
While the short answer is no, the extra weight moss lays upon on older trees can weaken their stability in windy storms and hide potential tree diseases from view. The good news is that most moss plants are epiphyte. This means they are not parasitic and they derive their nutrition from the air, not the tree, so while the weight could be dangerous, the moss itself isn’t harmful. Here’s our quick rundown on moss, and how to prevent and remove moss from your trees.
What causes green moss on trees?
Collectively known as lichens, algae and moss, this green growth arises because the environmental conditions allowed for it. Moss thrives in damp, dark areas, so regions covered by shadows or consistent cloud cover are more susceptible to moss growth. In addition, moss tends to prefer to grow on older trees with less vitality than younger trees.
While green moss on trees isn’t necessarily harmful, it can contribute to a myriad of potential problems. Thick moss growth on trees is heavy and can throw trees off balance. This may make for dangerous conditions during windy storms and other inclement weather. In addition, because moss grows more thickly on older trees, this can make it difficult to notice potential health problems like disease and tree death.
Removing Moss from Trees
Although moss isn’t usually harmful, if it overtakes your trees it can smother new buds and become a nuisance if you have a lot of growth. Not only will it cover your trees, but it can overtake your lawn and even grow on your house (which is actually harmful). Fortunately, it can be very easy to remove from your trees before it becomes problematic.
If you are not a fan of the moss on your trees, a natural way to get rid of it is to remove it with your hands. Because it isn’t rooted in trees it should be easy to pick off, especially if its growth is thick. Wearing gloves, try peeling or picking it off with your hands from the tree bark. For any left over moss, you can use a soft bristled brush to scrub it off the trees.
Another natural way to remove moss is to use a pressure washer to separate it from the tree bark. When you use this method, be sure and stand back from the tree about five feet and wear protective eyewear. Once the moss is separated from the tree, you should be able to pick it off with your hands.
Preventing Moss Growth
Because moss loves dark, damp areas, to keep it under control or prevent its growth, you need to try to eliminate the moisture and shade around the tree. Try to refrain from watering your trees when you water the lawn, and water your lawn deeply rather than frequently.
Avoid standing water in the yard: You can aerate your lawn to remove large puddles of water around the base of the tree. This will discourage moss growth by cutting off its supply of readily available water.
Pruning your trees to focus more direct sunlight to the trunk and major branches can help keep moss growth under control. Your goal is to aim for those leafy branches that are covering the base of the tree in shadow. To invite sunlight into your trees, trim the branches to open up the crown and reduce shading. If necessary, try to remove any landscaping that is causing too much shade around your trees.
Pacific Northwest Tree Experts
Thinking your trees might be suffering from more than just moss? Read about common tree diseases, and contact your local arborist for help. Call (503) 504-4179 or (503) 679-1410.