Often found on the forest floor or sprawling over rocks, moss is a low-growing plant that pleases the eye and has many environmental benefits. So why not consider adding moss to your garden?
The Benefits Of Moss
There are many benefits to a moss garden! Moss is a drought-resistant plant and requires very little water. Moss also has many nutrients and is a suitable replacement for mulch. It will also provide a lovely home to worms and other insects that are an essential food resource for birds and the like.
I have also read that lightning bugs love to lay their eggs in moss, which could mean some fantastic natural light shows in the evenings (if you reside in a firefly-friendly area). It’s also resilient and can be found on all seven continents.
Lush and soft beds of moss in different shades of green look beautiful too. I have always loved the look of moss and the simple, meditative ambience it can create, something the Japanese have appreciated for centuries. Just take a look at the famous Kokodera moss garden outside Kyoto.
Moss Types To Use
There are two categories of moss: Acrocarpous (e.g., fork moss, cushion moss) and Pleurocarpous (e.g., fern moss, sheet moss).
The former grows more slowly, is more upright and is a drier moss, making it more easily damaged if walked on. But it is also the tighter variety which works well to prevent weed growth.
Pleurocarpous is a flatter moss that grows faster, and you can walk all over it without worry. And it’s excellent for erosion control. So, besides the look, you will also want to base your moss choices on how you plan to use it.
Ideally, you want an area that is mostly shaded but does get some sun. You can purchase moss at some garden centers, but if you’re like me, you probably already have moss growing somewhere on your property. So grab a spatula and harvest it yourself to replant.
Prepare the ground (rake it, remove any weeds, etc.) and moisten it before laying down your moss. it’s a good idea to pin it to the ground and lay some rocks on top to help it gain traction to the soil below.
Make sure to keep it moist for the next few weeks. As the moss thickens and establishes itself over a few months, you will want to pull out any weeds that push through.
Once it’s attached, your work is mostly done. Moss doesn’t have a root structure, so it doesn’t get its nutrients from the soil, taking instead from its leaves via rain and sun.
Do you get a lot of snow where you live? Not a problem. Moss loves the snow cover and the moisture it provides – coming back even stronger after it melts.
While those are the basics, how you use it, and what you create, is up to you. You can go simple and cover a little shaded area of your garden where nothing else is growing anyway, or make the moss a focal point throughout the garden (over and around rocks can create a beautiful, multi-dimensional visual).
Don’t forget about your lawn. Moss as a lawn replacement is a very cool idea for low-traffic areas.
Side Note: While some people will tell you to check the pH of the soil before you plant your moss (you want it under 6), just as many will say that moss is such a resilient and low-maintenance plant, that in most cases, the pH doesn’t matter.