Moss Gardens – Tips For Growing Moss In Your Garden
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Growing moss (Bryophyta) is a lovely way to add a little something extra to a garden. Moss gardens, or even just moss plants used as accents, can help bring a sense of tranquility. Growing moss is not hard at all, but doing it successfully requires that you have a little bit of knowledge about what a moss plant is, and what causes moss to grow. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow moss.
What is a Moss Plant?
Mosses are categorized as bryophytes, which are non-vascular plants. While technically moss is a plant, it lacks the parts of a plant that we are used to seeing. It does not have true leaves, branches or even roots. Since moss has no roots, it must find other ways to absorb water and this is why it is frequently found in damp, shady areas.
Moss also does not have seeds like many other plants do. It spreads by spore or division.
Moss tends to grow in colonies, with several plants growing closely together, which creates the nice, smooth carpet-like appearance that makes moss gardens so beautiful.
How to Grow Moss
Knowing how to grow moss is really just a matter of knowing what causes moss to grow. Things that moss need to grow are:
Moisture – As said, moss needs a damp location to grow, but will not do as well in a location that is swampy.
Shade – Moss also likes to grow in the shade, which makes sense as moisture is more likely to linger in these areas and the moss will be less likely to dry out quickly.
Acidic soil – Moss also likes soil with a higher acidity, normally soil with a pH of about 5.5.
Compacted soil – While moss can be found growing in almost any soil type, most mosses prefer compacted soil, especially compacted clay soil.
How to Start Moss Gardens
The easiest way to start a moss garden is to simply build up the moss you already have. Many yards have some moss already growing in them (and many lawn enthusiasts consider moss to be a nuisance). If you have moss growing in your yard, then you already know that the moss will grow in that location. Sometimes all it needs to grow thicker and more lush is a little fertilizer, a little more acid or a little more moisture. A one to one solution of water and buttermilk will help with acid an nutrients, as will powdered milk. You can also use an acid loving plant fertilizer on the area as well. When developing existing moss patches, it also helps to remove competing plants such as grass and weeds.
If you do not have moss in your yard or if you want moss to grow in a location where it does not currently grow, you will need to transplant moss. Moss can either be harvested (with permission and responsibly) from areas where it is already growing or it can be bought. If you harvest your moss, be aware that different moss grow in different locations. For example, a moss plant harvested from the deep woods will not grow well in an open area with light shade. If you buy moss, the seller will be able to tell you what exact conditions that moss is suited for.
The best time to transplant moss is in spring or fall, when there will be the most rainfall. Transplant moss by laying a patch of moss in the location you would like for it to grow. If you have a large area you would like to cover, you can use a plug method, like you would with grass. Place small pieces of moss at regular intervals over the area. The moss will eventually grow together.
After you have planted your moss, water it thoroughly. Keep the area damp with regular watering for the next year or so to help the moss establish well. If the moss is allowed to dry out, it may die. Once established, transplanted moss should only need additional water in times of drought.
Planting Irish Moss: How to Grow Irish Moss Step By Step Guide
Are you planning to plant Irish moss (Sagina subulata) on your lawn? But you are confused about how and where to start? Don’t worry, because you will find everything you need in this article. Irish Moss, also known as Scottish Moss or Corsican Pearlwort, is among the common choices among gardeners. It increases the view of the landscape and adds beautiful finishing touches to your garden. From planting it into a container to growing in a terrarium, Irish Moss can be grown in any environment you want. Irish Moss is a pretty low maintenance plant. The plant will grow right on an average nutrient level and well-draining soil. Continue reading if you want to know more.
5 Easy Steps on How to Grow Your Own Moss Garden
Moss is a naturally occurring plant, which often sprouts independently and mainly on pavements and lawn’s bare spots. Mosses grow in the temperate zone throughout the world, and they prefer shade, moisture, and acidic soil.
When used in lawns and gardens, moss can make any garden setting very appealing to the eye, especially for those who want a fairytale-esq vibe outdoors.
If you’ve ever thought about creating a moss garden, you don’t have to wait for the moss to sprout itself because, truth be told, propagating it is easy.
Here’s everything you need to know to cultivate it.
Two Main Types of Moss
Before growing your own moss in your garden, you must have an idea about what type of moss you think will suit your garden setting. Naturally, moss grows in two main ways:
Pleurocarpus moss grows flat on many grounds, and it grows faster. It also does a perfect job at erosion control, and it’s easy to walk on without harming the plant.
The upright version, on the other hand, is a drier type of moss which means it is more easily damaged if disturbed or walked upon.
Benefits of Moss to Your Garden
Moss can indeed create a fairy-like ambience in forests and gardens. But did you know that it can also benefit your garden in so many ways? For instance:
Moss holds moisture and is considered as one of the most drought-tolerant plants out there. Meaning, it requires less water to survive. Mosses are rich in nutrients and provide organic material to your garden too, making them an excellent replacement for mulch.
Plus, moss doesn’t need replacing yearly and it hosts beneficial insects such as spiders, ants and worms— which provides a valuable food resource for other animals, e.g. birds, amphibians, and reptiles.
When to Grow Moss
When it comes to transplanting or propagating moss, it’s best to do it in the early spring. Growing them on ground conditions that are still wet from the winter snow or rain can help the moss bed to settle before the summertime and before other challenging growing conditions set in.
Note: Ensure there are no signs of any threat, such as frost before you select a spot for your moss.
Equipment and Materials You’ll Need to Grow Moss by Transplanting
In terms of tools, you’ll be needing the following:
- Gardening gloves
- Hose and Sprinkler
- Paintbrush or Spatula
- Spray bottle
As for the materials, prepare the following:
- Landscaping pins
- Moss transplant
- Soil pH strips
This method (courtesy of The Spruce ) works best for growing moss directly in the soil or covering up some bare patches where your lawn won’t propagate. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Recover and Weed the Area
Using a pitchfork, upturn and weed the spot you want to grow your moss. Then rake the surface of the soil so that the filaments can make good contact with the ground.
Step 2: Test Your Soil’s Acidity With the Use of Soil pH Strips
Soils normally become acidic when elements such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium are replaced by hydrogen ions. Most lawns require a 6.5 to 7 soil level, which is neutral and considered alkaline. But for moss, it should be below 6.
To test your soil, use your pH strips. If the result is higher than 5.5, make sure to add compost, manure and other soil amendments.
Step 3: Wet the Planting Area With a Hose or Sprinkler
After moistening the ground with a hose or sprinkle, allow the water to soak in for about 15 minutes to half an hour. Otherwise, you’ll be planting in dirty water, or worse, mud.
Step 4: Place the Moss on Top of the Soil
When laying your moss press it down firmly, then, pin it in place with the use of landscaping pins. Placing some light rocks on top as an anchor is also ideal.
Step 5: Keep it Moist
While it’s true that they can survive dry conditions, mosses still require dampness for them to survive.
Make sure to keep your moss damp for the first three weeks after planting it. You can use a misting garden hose and mist it at least once a day during dry weather conditions.
Now that you know how to grow your own moss garden, you can now have a serene and magical place to rest and spend your time outdoors!
How To Kill Moss In Your Garden
If you don’t want to keep moss around for decorative purposes, then you will want to find some ways to kill it and remove it from your garden. Let’s get started with how you can do just that.
Spray Moss With Vinegar
Although moss prefers acidic soil, it cannot handle extremely low pH, such as that found in vinegar. If you spray a patch of moss with vinegar, the sudden change in pH will shock the moss and kill it.Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and spray it on moss to kill it.
You may need to apply vinegar more than once, but after the moss dies, you can pull it up and compost it or dispose of it. Just remember that vinegar does not discriminate, and can kill your plants just as easily as it kills moss. So, watch where you are spraying!
Pour Boiling Water On Moss
Moss does not normally encounter boiling water, and so it really has no defense against such temperatures. Boiling water will likely kill moss in your garden.Boiling water is one way to kill moss, or any other plants!
Just remember that it will also kill your other plants, so don’t spill it on them.
Use a Shovel to Scrape Moss From Patios and Walkways
Since moss has no roots, it is easy to pull up by scraping it from the bottom. If moss is growing on a stone patio or walkway in your garden, you can use a shovel to scrape it away and dispose of it.Use a shovel to scrape moss off of hard surfaces, like stone paths or walkways.
Use a Rake to Pull Moss Out of Grass
This method also takes advantage of the shallow roots of moss. When you rake your yard, it will pull up moss easily, without ripping out the grass. Remember to dispose of the moss when you are finished raking.Use a rake to pull up moss from your grass.
Cover Moss With Mulch or Other Materials
Although moss prefers shade, it does need light to survive. If you completely cover moss and prevent it from getting sunlight, then it will die.
You can use any of the following materials to cover moss:
- Mulch, including wood chips, compost, and manure (make sure the manure is decomposed before putting it in your vegetable garden!). For more information on sources, check out my article on how to make compost and my article on where to get manure.
- Cardboard – you can also use paper. You can often get free cardboard boxes from wholesale clubs such as Costco or BJ’s – just ask! For more ideas, check out my article on using cardboard boxes in your garden.
- Landscape fabric
- Plastic (black is best if you have it, but clear plastic can still make it hot enough to kill moss)
Mulch and cardboard have the added benefit of adding organic material and nutrients to your garden, so those would be my first choices when attempting to kill moss by covering it.
How to Grow Moss
Last Updated: February 1, 2021 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Maggie Moran. Maggie Moran is a Professional Gardener in Pennsylvania.
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If you’ve ever walked barefoot on the forest floor, you might have noticed the softy, squishy moss beneath your feet. Moss is ideal for yards and gardens because it helps to retain moisture and it never needs to be mowed like grass. Or, you can spread a moss mixture onto your fence, foundation, or stones to give them an aura of forest magic. To grow moss, all you need is a little bit of labor up front, and then it can take care of itself for years to come.
Growing Moss: How To Grow Moss In The Garden - garden
Moss growing on my brick patio.
There are many moss-like plants. Sea Moss is actually algae Reindeer Mosses are lichens Clubmosses (Lycopodiums and Selaginellas) are vascular plants more closely allied with Horsetails Spanish Moss is a bromeliad (related to Pineapples) Irish and Scotch Moss are in the carnation family.
True mosses, in the class Musci include “true” mosses, peat mosses, and granite mosses. They are primitive “non-vascular plants,” meaning that they have no tissues for conducting water or nutrients such as the xylem or phloem in “higher” plants.
Plants that have no vascular tissue cannot grow large. They need to absorb moisture and nutrients from their surroundings. Because of this, like lichens, mosses are very susceptible to air pollution. They need to live in moist places during part of their life cycle. Mosses may be found on the ground, on rocks and cliff faces, near waterfalls, on rotting logs, and in bogs. Mosses or other plants that grow on trees are called epiphytes. There are about 700 species of “true mosses” and about 40 species of Sphagnum peat moss in our region.
Do you consider moss a pest? It may be–when it is growing on your roof–Just make sure that you use an environmentally-friendly, “least toxic,” product when controlling moss on structures.
Many people in their quest for a perfect lawn will use chemicals to kill moss. Proper management is a better strategy–Rake the lawn to remove thatch and moss, aerate it to make sure it drains freely and overseed to fill in bare spots. Irrigate adequately during dry periods to keep the grass healthy but do not let water puddle, follow a recommended fertilizer program, apply lime to keep the pH between 6.0-6.5, and mow grass at the proper height for the species. In shady areas, turfgrass grows poorly other groundcovers may be more suitable—mosses, at least, are green!
A Moss Garden can be an attractive feature in a woodland garden. I saw a You-tube video that made it sound easy—all you had to do was acidify the soil! Mosses grow best at a pH of
5.5. To try to encourage more moss, I tried a little experiment in my yard. After testing the pH of my soil, I endeavored to lower the pH a little more. The only products readily available for acidifying soil are aluminum sulfate (usually sold for making hydrangeas bluer), and elemental sulfur (often sold for treating fungal diseases). It was difficult to quantify the results. The amount of mosses varies dramatically through the seasons and unfortunately, the grass still survived. The plots treated with the aluminum sulfate, however, appeared to have a little more moss.
For the best success, you really should start with bare ground in a shady location, removing all the grass, weeds, leaves and debris . Next, scratch up the soil to loosen it slightly and moisten the soil. There are two methods for establishing moss in a new area. You can transplant entire clumps of moss to the new spot or make a “moss milkshake” to spread over a larger area by mixing clumps of moss with buttermilk or beer in a blender (using a few types of moss insures a better success rate). Just make sure to mist or water regularly and remove any leaves or debris that fall on the moss. These methods also work well for establishing moss on rocks, in between pavers, in bonsai, fairy gardens, or other special container gardens.
A Moss Garden is a great project for an environmentalist on St. Patrick’s Day! After all, is anything greener than moss?
(This article was first published in the Peninsula Gateway on March 16, 2011)
This was the best article I found about growing moss (on purpose) in the PNW. I have a north facing patio that naturally grows some moss — I was looking for information on how to make it grow better. I lived 12 years in Kansas they were good years. But now that we live in the PNW, I’m SO ready for moss!
Can you use the algae/green moss in a vegetable garden instead of say a peat moss? Would it harm your plants to use it as a soil amendment?
I don’t see why you couldn’t use algae/green moss in your garden. I am not sure how it might affect the pH of your soil. You may want to do a pH test afterwards. Coconut fiber or Coir is generally recommended as a substitute for Peat Moss, which has traditionally been mined from ancient peat bogs…
I have it in different part of my yard!
I like it so going to leave it and see what continues to happen
You never anwsered in your blog if moss is good in a garden or plant.
Jerry, moss is just another part of the ecosystem. Some people may consider it a weed, if it is growing where they do not want it. But as far as I am concerned it can be a beautiful part of a landscape!