Nature's Carpet for the Garden
By Ingrid Mueller
Published: 02/13/2014  Updated: 08/08/2019
Moss and Stone Gardens
Moss and Stone Gardens  David Spain
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Creating a Garden Landscape with Moss

Here are a few tips on propagating moss in your own yard.

Where to Plant
Shade and moisture are key requirements for a moss garden. Shade-loving mosses can tolerate partial sun, but not hot afternoon sun. They are drought-tolerant once established. Moss has no true roots and obtains all of its nutrients from the air, so it requires nothing more than shade and adequate moisture to flourish. Mosses are not particular about soil types. Loam, clay or richly amended soils will all work. The exception would be soils with a high sand content preventing a stable surface for attachment. Without roots, moss can grow on most firm surfaces; soil, rocks, walls and pavement to name a few.

How to Plant
Prepare the planting site by removing all leaves, weeds, and debris. Unlike grass, moss will show small divots and holes in the ground, make sure the surface is smooth and flat. Use a rake to scratch up the soil, loosen it slightly and moisten the soil. Moss can be commercially purchased or you can divide and relocate existing moss to your newly prepared site.

Varieties to Plant
Moss is a wonderfully diverse plant; here are four easy-to-plant varieties.

Sheet Moss
One of the most popular types of moss, sheet moss is easily transplanted and handles foot traffic well. A low-growing plant, sheet moss highlights small wildflowers and is ideal as a low-maintenance ground cover between paving stones on shady patios and walkways.

Cushion Moss
Cushion moss has an interesting, humped growth pattern and changes color from silvery-green when dry to a lush, vibrant green when moist.

Haircap Moss
A very tall plant, Haircap moss grows much like a miniature tree and provides excellent contrast to lower-growing varieties. This particular type of moss can tolerate more sun than most once established.

Known for its vivid green color, Rockcap moss has a swirly growth habit and thrives on top of rocks or soil.

A possible alternative to purchasing moss is locating naturally-occurring moss to transplant. Most importantly, do not violate state or federal laws regarding plant removal from public lands and do not trespass on private property. Relocating entire sheets or clumps of moss to a new spot has a high success rate, provided that the new location has the same growing conditions that the moss originally came from. Keep the transplanted moss shady and moist until established.

There’s nothing as soothing as an emerald carpet of moss on a damp, misty morning and I hope you’ll agree that mosses are one plant that no garden should be without.
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Nature's Carpet for the Garden