Why You Should Grow Some Moss

Moss. This non-flowering plant has been around for 450 million years, surviving the most extreme climate changes and weather temperatures. Like liverworts and hornworts, mosses are known as bryophytes – “having no roots.” They absorb water and nutrients from the air through their surface and thanks to their resilience and hardiness, mosses contribute substantially to the development of our ecosystems. In addition, moss provides an enchanted feel to any garden as a lush natural green carpet. Some of the benefits of moss include:

  • Helps clean the air and fight air pollution
  • Boosts biodiversity
  • Supports an array of insect life (many insects raise their young in moss)
  • Absorbs rainfall and protects soil like mulch
  • Warms or cools soil temperature depending on environment and location

The Two Types of Moss

Acrocarpous or Mood mosses produce foliage that is erect, unbranched, and forms a mounded colony. Weeds don’t stand a chance because of its thickness and tightly packed stems. If you have dry shade, this is the moss for you. It will grow on soil, stone, or wood but is not a good choice in areas where there is regular foot traffic. This type of moss needs minimal moisture and is extremely drought-tolerant.

Pleurocarpous or Fern mosses grow faster than acrocarpous moss, attaches itself to rocks, and regenerates quickly from broken pieces. Fern moss is also ideal for use around a water feature. It does best in full shade to part sun and needs regular moisture.

Overall, mosses can be better than grass in that they are low maintenance, environmentally friendly, and could be a viable option for lawns where growing turf grass is frustratingly challenging. Moss lawns also save on water and fertilizer. However, having a moss lawn in lieu of grass for ground cover does require meeting a few conditions. For example, moss requires an acidic environment, compact soil, protected sun to semi-shade, and consistent moisture. It thrives in wet conditions.

Moss can sometimes just pop up in lawns and is often deemed a nuisance that needs to go. If allowed to grow, it can make any lawn look equally attractive. If you see moss growing on your property, such as around trees, you can transplant small patches of it with a little soil to a desired location. First, prepare the area by creating a smooth surface. Next, carefully place it on the soil and press down gently. Moss will begin to grow slowly so long as it has been transplanted to a proper location.

Rocks covered in moss are another option. You may not even have to do anything if you have damp rocks situated in a suitable location. Moss may colonize on the rocks on its own. However, it is possible to give nature a helping hand by mixing a small amount of moss with some natural yogurt and spreading the solution over the damp rocks you want to see covered in moss. Moss is esthetically pleasing, especially with pavers, green plants, and/or waterfalls as an addition.

-Sharon Oliver

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