Fight against moss, dandelions goes on

Claudette Sandecki gives an update on the situation in her yard

In all my years of writing this column only two elicited more reader response than last week’s reporting on my moss killing attempts using an environmentally friendly mixture of one gallon of white vinegar, two cups of Epsom salts, and a quarter cup of blue Dawn dishwashing liquid.

I’d be exaggerating if I said the column went viral, but an update does seem to be in order.

In my test plot where I sprinkled the mixture from a garden watering can the moss and dandelions are dead, no sign of resurgence, while purple clover, grass and a feathery leaf identified to me as fennel are expanding and cherry seedlings look happy.

In the second test spot where I shook the mixture from a plastic jar with many 1/16 inch holes drilled in the lid, moss is completely dead and unlikely to revive.

A visitor helped get my gallon sprayer working and with it I sprayed more moss and a line of dandelions with its fine mist. Perhaps too fine a mist. Wherever the mist touched the dandelions are withering and turning brown.

But half the leaves didn’t receive a deadly dose or maybe any of the mixture necessitating a second application.

All in all, the vinegar mixture definitely kills moss and dandelions without harming whatever else grows in my yard.

Being without a mower for several weeks has allowed new plants to flourish, plants that otherwise were cut down before they flowered. In one corner, where I recall seeding a package of wild flowers years ago, I had a widespread crop of small yellow blossoms.

My mower was out three weeks for tune-up after I tilted it to the wrong side to scrape out a mush of mangled green underneath that I deduced might be hampering the blades.

I caused oil to soak the air filter. The poor machine coughed like a senior with emphysema and promptly expired amidst a heavy swath of dandelions, moss, and grasses. A small motor mechanic replaced the air filter, and sharpened the blades.

Once back out in the field, I faced poplar saplings 30 inches high with stems thick as China markers. A chain saw would have been in order.

After I mow everything, I look forward to spraying the main of my yard with MossOut. That I can do by attaching the hose to the container which then delivers the MossOut.

I know from experience several years ago such a treatment will knock down moss so that I can, if I choose, push a lawn mower rather than pull it to keep the wheels from burrowing in the moss. But before I spray I have the interim step of raking up all the clipping gobs and wheeling them to the compost pile. Without first raking, the MossOut stands little chance of touching the moss.

With the “lawn” clipped, robins can hop about feeding on worms. My Mickey Mantle dog can locate a ball if I pitch it, though he does cough up clippings and spit out mossy bits.

Three weeks of no mowing allowed an impressive array of greenery including kinnikinnick and thimbleberries to overrun every unoccupied area. They formed a thick barrier along the fence too high for my dogs to see beyond; they could hear but not see traffic approaching.

Nor could they scuffle with strays through the fence. This barrier also had the effect of keeping out stray mini dogs capable of squeezing through tight spaces.

The one bright side to helplessly watching invasive greenery grow ever higher and more impenetrable was the indisputable excuse it gave me to stay in and read CBC’s daily computer blog of Duffy’s unfolding trial.

Claudette Sandecki continues her gardening and lawn battles from her residence in Thornhill, B.C.