The Home Composter

How to Compost

Compost safely

Which bin to choose?

Your compost ingredients

Empty your compost bin

To turn or not to turn?

How long to compost?

Worms & Wormeries

Compost kitchen waste

Prickly prunings

Weeds and weeds

Too much grass

Leaves for Leafmould

Seasonal Tips


Unwelcome Guests

Leaflets to download

Composting Moss
Moss breaks down slowly in a home compost bin. After 2 years it may have only shrunk by a quarter and it may be 3 years or more before there are no longer any recognisable pieces left.

There are several reasons for this:
When you rake moss out of a lawn or scrape it off the surface of some earth you do not kill it; moss is much tougher than that. The species of moss that we are likely to find in our gardens can easily survive being frozen or being desiccated so putting them into a compost bin is not going to kill them straight away.
However after being in complete darkness for several months moss will start to die.
The dead moss then needs to be broken down by specialist bacteria that can cope with the special aromatics and phenols that moss species use to defend themselves. Such specialist bacteria will probably not be present in your compost bin nor will they be included in activators that you may buy.
However they may be present in the soil beneath your lawn or in your flower beds, so try to include some soil with the moss.
These micro organisms that break down moss need a wet environment to thrive but will probably not be helped by added nitrogen or other nutrients.
So keep the decomposing moss very wet but don't buy activator.

It is best to compost moss in a separate bin where you can
leave it for 3 years or more

keep it wet
keep it dark

Layering the moss with lawn mowings is an easy way to achieve this
The bin does not have to be in a sunny place as this will make little difference to the length of time you will have to wait

 See the very interesting article by Simone Lang in 'Journal of Ecology' for the full comparison of how bryophytes and lichens decompose in natural environments.

Composting problem?
 Contact us if you would like us to answer your query. We'll try to give a helpful answer!

This page is sponsored by Scottish Borders Councilsbc logo

More information about recycling in the Scottish Borders can be found on :
 Scottish Borders Council Reduce Reuse Recycle