Dying of the Grass?
An Invasion of Moss

An area with normal grass cover.
photo by Gerry Hawkes - May 2000
  A knoll where moss has replaced the grass.
photo by Gerry Hawkes - May 2000
These photos, taken near Woodstock, Vermont in early May before the grass started greening, show a normal grassy area on the left and on the right a formerly grassy knoll that has been invaded by moss over the previous two years. These two areas are only 50 feet apart. Both areas have been used as pasture for approximately 200 years. This observer has been very familiar with these grassy areas since 1957 and they have always been covered with pasture grass during that period until the recent invasion of moss. These areas have not been fertilized, limed or had manure spread on them at least since 1957 and probably never. A number of other grassy areas in the region have been observed rapidly giving way to moss.


Close up of a grass to moss transition.
photo by Gerry Hawkes - May 2000

This close-up view of the transition from grass to moss shows a heavy blanket of moss in the bottom part of the photo with some residual grass in the top of the photo. Purplish leaves from the previous autumn litter the ground.


Mossy area giving way to bare ground.
photo by Gerry Hawkes - May 2000

In the center of this photo it can be seen that the moss has either given way to bare ground or has just not been able to take over as the grass died.


The transition of grass to moss was first noted under the drip lines of galvanized metal roofs in the 1960's, but had not been noted by this observer in open pastures and lawns until 1998. These areas have not been subjected to any fertilizing, spraying, or run-off from any possible local pollution source. These photos were taken about 400 feet from a house where acid run-off is etching the concrete floor (see first photo on that web page). This is not an isolated occurrence since many other areas in the region have been observed transitioning from grass to moss in the last 2 to 3 years.

We would certainly be interested in hearing from anyone who has similar observations or who has more information. Contact Gerry Hawkes: ghawkes@biketrack.com


. . . . . . . . Here's a few of the responses so far.

Wilder, Vermont ~ May 24, 2000

. . . every time I'm on my lawn this Spring I think I'm in a moss garden! I think it's beautiful, but I wondered if I should spread lime.


Bridgewater, Vermont ~ May 24, 2000

. . . over the past few years I have seen the quality of the lawn deteriorate ie. more moss growing etc. I thought this was due to lack of fertilizer, thickness of thatch etc





. . . to Eco Systems' Home Page


Contact Gerry Hawkes: ghawkes@eco-systems.org