How to Grow Moss as a Ground Cover

rocks covered in mossMosses are tiny seedless plants that thrives in moist, shady environments. Instead of roots, they have tiny rhizoids that allow them to attach to a variety of surfaces. For this reason, it’s common to find moss on trees or even the side of a house.

But did you know these plants can also make a fantastic ground cover for your yard? This is an attractive and low-maintenance option for the shaded areas of your landscape.

Using moss instead of grass has become more popular over the past decade, due to its beauty and simplicity. It doesn’t require mowing, and it’s quite easy to propagate in your yard. If you want to grow moss as a ground cover, here are the steps to guide you through.

Step 1: Search for a Shady Area

Moss generally thrives in the shade, and can dry out with regular sun exposure. Given this, you want to find a shady or low-light space in your yard. You also want to make sure this is an area you can easily keep hydrated.

Moss’s affinity for shade makes it a great choice for deeply shaded areas in your yard. But if you choose to place it in a spot with dappled shade, there is still hope. While it does dry out easily, yellowed moss will readily spring back to life if you water it generously.

Step 2: Clear the Area

Before you plant moss in your chosen area, you must ensure that it is clear from weeds or grass that may affect its growth. Completely remove any vegetation that’s already taken root, so the moss doesn’t have any competition as it begins to spread over the ground.

While moss doesn’t take root in the same way as grass, it still needs a sturdy surface to grab onto. For this reason, it’s recommended that you pat down the soil to be sure it’s even and compact. 

Step 3: Spread and Plant the Moss in your Chosen Location

After you’ve cleared the area, planting moss is really quite easy. Bags or sheets of moss can be purchased at the garden shop. Or, you can transplant naturally growing moss from a nearby tree or boulder.

There’s no need to obtain enough moss to cover the entire ground. Once you’ve pressed it into the soil in evenly-spaced increments, it will begin to fill in on its own within two or three weeks. Some people prefer to “anchor” each patch to the ground with a stick, but this isn’t strictly necessary.

Step 4: Water or Provide a Rain Barrel for the Moss

Regular moisture is a must for moss. The good news is, it’s amazingly absorbent so it doesn’t need to be watered deeply. In fact, for smaller patches, some people simply use a mister every day to keep it damp.

Like we mentioned before, if your moss yellows a bit due to a dry spell, it typically bounces back in a couple of days after adequate hydration. For those adhering to water restrictions, setting out a rain barrel is an eco-friendly way to accumulate extra hydration for your moss without overusing the garden hose.

When it comes to growing moss on a structure, you’ll want to create a “moss slurry” that can be painted onto boulders, pots, or tree stumps. Simply mix a clump of moss in the blender with some water and buttermilk. Apply it with a brush or sponge, and keep it hydrate to encourage growth.

Final Thoughts

  • Find a shady spot where your moss will thrive.
  • Clear the area of any other vegetation, so your moss isn’t competing for growing space.
  • Planting and spreading your moss is easy, so long as you’ve given it a solid surface.
  • Be sure you keep it well-hydrated so it remains moist and lush green.

clump of moss

Moss is wonderfully easy to plant and care for, so long as it’s got adequate moisture and shade coverage. The rich green adds a forest-like ambience, and the tiny blades make a soft turf for bare feet. As an added bonus, if a tuft of moss is accidentally pulled up, it will naturally self-repair in almost no time.

For a low-maintenance ground cover that will enhance the shaded areas of your yard, moss is great choice. If you’ve got some growing nearby, take advantage of the opportunity for a free landscaping opportunity! But if you don’t, or if you’d like to start your project with a hearty supply, you can find a sheet of moss at your local garden shop.

JC’s Landscaping  has more fantastic ideas about how to enhance your yard and garden.

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