Moss is an interesting plant. It can grow almost anywhere and doesn’t need a lot of light or water to survive. It’s perfect for homeowners who want to add a touch of natural beauty to their yard, and it’s also great for those who don’t have the time or inclination to take care of a traditional lawn.
If you’re looking for a beautiful, sustainable, and low-maintenance alternative to a traditional grass lawn, moss may be the perfect solution for you. With a few simple tips and tricks, you can have a moss lawn that is the envy of all your neighbors.
In this post, we’ll teach you how to grow a moss lawn from scratch. We’ll cover everything you need to know, from the benefits of moss lawns, as well as provide tips for selecting the right type of moss, preparing your soil, and maintaining your new lawn. So read on to learn more and get started on your own moss lawn today!
What is Moss?
Moss, which is also known as Bryophyta, is a flowerless, low-lying, non-vascular plant. It forms as a dense green clump, or mat, and is mostly seen in moist and shady areas like the edge of streams or forest floors.
Moss is the oldest plant species on Earth, with its ancestors dating back almost 470 million years ago.
Moss is one of the primary components of peat, a substance formed by the accumulation of partially decaying organic or vegetative material. Peat is utilized as fuel for heat and electricity in many parts of Europe, and it imparts unique flavor to certain Scotch whiskies.
Moss can thrive on a wide range of substances and in a variety of settings, so you should be aware of where and how it grows as well as what it looks like. You might even have it in your back yard already!
Benefits of a Moss Lawn
There are many benefits to having a lawn covered in moss rather than regular grass.
For example, moss itself can be used as a living mulch. It retains moisture, does not get compacted ever, and also does not need replacing on a yearly basis. A moss layer may also function to prevent germination of vascular plants, and they thermally insulate the soil they grow in.
Like the clover plant, mosses also contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which help to maintain soil fertility by supplying nitrogen – when mosses are dried and then moistened again, they release nitrogen into the ground. Mosses minimize water penetration into soil when they’re saturated, and they also help to prevent moisture loss in the soil itself.
Moss is also an incredibly easy lawn to maintain. It does not need to be mowed, nor does it need to be fertilized as it does not have a root system to fertilize. It is also one of the most drought resistant lawn coverings you can have.
The biggest saving is with water and time spent watering. Moss lawns do need to be watered a bit, but they require only 1% or less of the water that a normal US grass lawn needs per year. A misting of a few minutes each day is more than sufficient, and overwatering could kill the moss, so always err on the side of under-watering!
Are There Any Cons of a Moss Lawn?
There are several benefits to growing a moss lawn, such as decreased water usage, reduced fertilizer and pesticide use, and improved soil health. However, there are some potential drawbacks to consider before making the switch from grass to moss.
While it is easily walked on and compressed, moss do not do well when scuffed by someone or something, because it can be easily torn by tension or ripping it with a sharp object. It is also always moist, so many people find it too damp to comfortably sit upon. For these reasons, moss lawns are best left alone – if you have a family or pet that loves to play on the lawn, a full moss lawn might not be the way to go.
Tips On How to Grow a Moss Lawn
If you want to grow a moss lawn in your backyard, or change your grass lawn to moss, follow these tips to do so!
Moss is resilient; it can grow almost anywhere, and it will at least be able to adapt into basically any environment you want. There are numerous varieties of moss, but native species will be adapted to the local rainfall and temperature and therefore will better flourish on your grass.
The two primary categories of moss are acrocarps and pleurocarps.
Acrocarps prefer dryer habitats and are more drought-tolerant than other grasses. If you reside in a dry environment, look to buy species like broom moss and heath moss, which are both excellent choices for your lawn.
However, you live in a more humid environment, or if it is more temperate, we would recommend pleurocarps as a better choice, because they won’t rot due to excess dampness. They can also tolerate some sunlight but perform better in the shade. Look for species like fern moss or hypnum moss; these provide excellent coverage and are tolerant of cooler, wetter environments.
Before you plant the moss, you have to be smart about where you plant it. You want to choose an area of your lawn that has a healthy mixture of both sunlight and shade. Moss needs some sun, but if it gets too much it will dry out, so shade is absolutely essential to moss growth and to keep it healthy.
If you want to plant it over your entire lawn, make sure that you plant trees or shrubs along the sunny side, so that it is not directly in the sun for too long each day.
Prepare the Soil
Once you’ve chosen a spot for your moss lawn, you’ll need to prepare the soil. To thrive, moss needs an open area free of plants and detritus, so your first step should be to clear any grass, weeds, leaves, branches, and twigs from the area as soon as possible.
Additionally, make sure that any depressions in the soil have been addressed. See our post on how to level an uneven lawn if you want to learn more. This is necessary because water and debris accumulate in depressions in the ground, which then could drown or suffocate the moss.
Finally, moss prefers a slightly acidic lawn soil – the pH should be around 5.5, but anywhere between 5.0 and 6.0 would suffice. Get your soil tested with a pH test to see if it is the right range. If your lawn soil is not acidic enough, you’ll need to lower the pH level before you can plant.
Plant the Moss
Once everything is ready in your yard, it is time to plant the moss on the soil. Firstly, you need to get the moss you’re going to use.
Mosses are available from nurseries, but you may also create a slurry by grinding moss into water to create a mix, and then and spreading that over the prepared soil. It is not advised to collect mosses from the natural environment around you, as they are vital components of the ecosystem and would take a long time to re-establish in nature.
The slurry approach takes longer to install than simply buying one from a nursery, but it has the benefit of allowing you to select a native moss from your landscape and utilizing it as a lawn alternative. This is beneficial because you know that moss prefers your local conditions, and it is a native species as well, giving the lawn a better chance of surviving.
How to Maintain a Moss Lawn
As we mentioned above, one of the primary benefits of having a moss lawn is that it doesn’t need much maintenance done to it at all. As long as you don’t scuff or tear it, it is a very durable and resistant lawn. It is able to withstand harsh conditions, including drought, sub-zero temperatures, and it doesn’t get compacted.
However, it does need some attention paid to it, especially when you are first starting out with your lawn. You should water it fairly regularly when it’s first planted, but once it is established you can essentially let it be as is.
It also needs to be weeded sometimes, as all grasses do, and is particularly susceptible to weeds when it is in its infancy. You might even need to use a weed killer from time to time.
If you’re considering a moss lawn, or have one and are wondering how to keep it looking great, we hope this article has helped you to learn some key tips on how to do that. A moss lawn is a great option for people who are looking for an easy-to-maintain, eco-friendly lawn.
Make sure you prepare the soil properly, choose the right moss type for your location, and water and fertilize regularly. Once it’s established, be sure to keep up with regular maintenance to ensure your moss lawn thrives.
Are you ready to try growing a moss lawn? If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Good luck and happy gardening!