It is August – time for magnolias, laying paths and killing moss

On another practical level, a packet of Cold Water Surf washing powder entered my life. I had forgotten about its existence. It is vile, over-scented stuff that I would never use in the laundry but others may not mind that overpowering scent of chemical fragrance. We use unscented washing powder in this household of sensitive skins. But damn, that Cold Water Surf is a whizz on killing moss.

Countdown to Festival: August 13, 2010

Quinton Reeves from Wintringham in New Plymouth describes his lawn as currently looking like army jungle camouflage if viewed from above. This is because he took advice from an expert and used Cold Water Surf sprinkled in powder form to kill out the unwanted mosses. It has apparently worked a treat and he is now waiting for the grasses to come away with renewed vigour. We have never heard of this simple remedy before but plan to experiment with moss in other areas. The trick, Quinton says, is to apply it after a rainy period (no problem there) and the lawn has had a day to dry out and it must be Cold Water Surf which is alleged to have an ingredient which is missing from other brands. So now you know.

Garden lore

It is a curious thing that people will sometimes spoil some garden project for the sake of a word. For instance, a blue garden, for beauty’s sake, may be hungering for a group of white lilies, or for something of palest yellow, but it is not allowed to have it because it is called the blue garden and there must be no flowers in it but blue flowers…. My own idea is that it should be beautiful first, and then just be as blue as may be consistent with its best possible beauty.

Gertrude Jekyll Colour in the Flower Garden (1908)

Dealing to moss

The easiest way I know to kill moss growing in the wrong places is to lightly sprinkle soda ash. This is in fact powdered washing soda (sodium carbonate or Na2CO3 for the scientifically inclined) and you can buy it from bulk bins. Cold Water Surf is often recommended and does work. I am guessing Cold Water Surf contains a relatively high proportion of soda ash as a water softener because it works much better than the budget washing powder I tried. Having found what the active ingredient is, I now prefer to use straight soda ash without the unnecessary extras. It is non toxic and occurs naturally so, as far as I know, is not going to harm the environment. It kills moss overnight though you then have to wire brush the dead moss off hard surfaces or rake it out of lawns. Experiment lightly – it doesn’t take a lot to be effective.

Published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.