Moss Gardening

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If you live in western North Carolina and your home is surrounded by trees then you probably have some moss growing in your landscape. But what if you want moss in a specific are such as a garden walkway? In this case you might want to transplant moss from one place to another and encourage it to grow more quickly.

Perhaps your yard is too shady to grow turfgrass successfully. Then a moss lawn might be a good option for an area where you want a green lawn. Moss lawns have the advantage of never needing mowing!

moss lawn

I created this moss lawn because fescue simply refused to grow in this area.

Mosses are an ancient type of plant. There are over 15,000 species of moss on the planet and 1200 species in North America. They are member of the non-flowering plant group called bryophytes. Mosses do not have true roots but do have root-like structures that anchor them to soil. Some mosses are prostrate, growing flat to the ground or on surfaces. Other mosses are upright and grow in clumps.

Mosses are branched, threadlike green plants. Mosses form a thick tangled green mat over soil and other surfaces. Mosses are not parasitic nor do they displace any other plants. Mosses are spread by wind-blown spores.

moss growing on asphalt

Moss is always growing on this area of my driveway. I use it as a ‘moss nursery’ where I can annually harvest large quantities of moss. This type of ‘sheet moss’ peels up easily in sections.

Harvesting Moss

Harvesting moss is easy. The thicker the moss is the easier it is to harvest. To harvest moss on a flat surface, simply use a flat shovel to scrape the moss off of the surface where it is growing. The moss should come off in strips. If the moss you are harvesting is in a lawn, then simply rake it out of the grass. This moss will be loose. Moss can also be found growing in forests, near streams and anywhere else cool, moist shady conditions prevail.

harvesting moss with flat shovel

Installing Moss

Moss that has been harvested with a shovel will usually hold together in flat sections of various sizes. Simply clear the soil in the area to be planted and lay the moss sections much like laying turfgrass sod. Press the moss firmly onto the soil surface assuring good contact. If the moss was harvested by rake from a lawn, simply clear the soil then broadcast the smaller loose moss sections. Again, press the moss down on the ground to assure good contact with soil.

installing moss in a walkwayinstalling moss in a walkwayinstalling moss in a walkwayinstalling moss in a walkway

Caring for Moss and Maximizing Growth

Keep moss wet to maximize growth. Mosses thrive in wet, humid shady conditions. It grows on almost any substrate that has nutrients and minerals available for uptake including old concrete and any place soil or organic matter builds up. Moss tends to prefer acidic soils so avoid lime applications to areas where you want moss to thrive.

Established Moss garden

This is a moss garden that i have been working on for several years. The area is in deep shade behind my shop. I needed a ground cover in the area but did not want to do mulch. I opted for a moss lawn and it is looking great. The original moss was harvested from a shady lawn area where moss had moved into the lawn. I used a rake to separate the moss from the turf then broadcast the loose moss over the entire area. Now I have about 100 square feet covered.