How to Create a Moss Garden!
If you have a shady area in your garden where no flowers or shrubs will thrive then you may have the perfect spot for a moss garden! Or maybe you already struggle to get rid of moss in your lawn in some places? Stop that, and make your garden life easier by following nature and construct a moss garden! Or let the area be a moss mat! A moss mat is wonderfully soft to walk on, it requires no lawn movers, no fertilizer, no need to rake grass clippings etc. And even if I know that some people think of moss as weed I think moss is beautiful in the right place. So instead of trying to get rid of the moss; you should start to take care of the moss and nurture it. I will show you how beautiful moss can be!
A moss garden can be the opening to a brand new world in your garden. The thing with a moss garden is that it is supposed to be suiting without so many startling colours. It is an area where you can sit down and enjoy the calm and stress free environment. A moss garden doesn’t need so much work and maintenance either, so you will have time to sit down. And since there are many different kinds of moss you will get several colours anyway even if moss all come in green shades. It doesn’t matter which size your garden is, you just adapt your moss garden to the area available, and create a small moss garden in a limited place, or you can create a bigger moss garden with moss mat, moss beds and trees. It all depends on the climate and the sun conditions in your garden. The most famous moss garden can be seen in Japan where the monk Muso KUKuhis famous moss garden is located outside of Kyoto. The garden is also called Kokedera and it was built in the 1300s. The garden is a pure moss garden and consists of hundreds different mosses with trees as only accent. Mosses can be seen as timeless and a moss garden provides with stillness and a view of eternal life. Japanese garden is made for relaxation and meditation and such places is something we all need now and then. A moss garden should resemble a creation done by nature itself even if is created by man and some call a moss garden “The art of artlessness”.
Find the right spot for a moss garden!
If you want to know if a moss garden is possible in your area; look on the surrounding nature. Moss grows in many places of the world and in addition to humidity, bedrock and soil also affects which moss that grows in one place. Moss grows where it is a bit damp, and some mosses require very humid climate. Consequently, where there are mountains and forests there are always a lot of moss. Moss requires also some light in order to grow; they can’t grow in full sunlight and they can not grow where it is too dark. What they need is at partly shady area beneath a tree or in the shade from a wall. If you live in a place that have seasons, remember that conifers shade the entire year, while deciduous trees transmits sunlight during winter months.
Most mosses require slightly acidic soil with pH of 6 to 6,5 and mosses can endure withstand of drought better than for example grass, the moss just stop growing and wait for the water to come.
Type of moss which is best suited for a moss garden!
The specie of moss which is suitable for use in a moss garden is moss that thrives in acid soil, because then they will get less competition from weeds.
For best results, you should use a native moss. But do not just fetch moss from the forest, at least not without asking the land owner. Instead, ask your good friends who has sites with moss, maybe they are glad to get rid of it! Or you can purchase tufts of moss.
How moss is spreading!
Moss spread spontaneously on many substrates, for example, soil, peat, decayed wood and on stones. Propagation is made by airborne spores. So if you buy peat blocks, there are already moss spores in the blocks. In good growing conditions, you can take any kind of moss, crush it and spread it over the surface you have planned for a moss garden, and you have a seed bed of moss! But if you use this method be aware that you may have an area full with weed instead of moss, since you can’t control the area. Another way if you like to use crushed dry moss is to sowing the moss in boxes, watered with a mix of low-fat milk and water and covered with a cloth. In this way you have control over the moss and can plant it out to the right spot when they have grown a little. Then you just have to take care of the small moss plants and give them the right conditions, like damp, moisture and light.
How to nurture a moss garden!
The best time for planting a moss garden is at times when evaporation is small; usually in the spring or fall in areas with seasons. Carefully remove all weeds before planting. Lay out a layer of suited substrates if the soil isn’t right for mosses. Unfertilised peat mixed with sand and some clay can be a good mix that provides a acid layer. When the moss carpet has become dense it is fairly competitive, especially on poorer soils in shady locations since other plants may have difficulty to thrive there. Moss can endure extreme nutrient condition but they are sensitive for air pollution since they take all their nutrients and water directly from rain and deposition. One exception is “Polytrichum commune” which produces high pillows in moist woodland and that can be used in areas with more air pollution.
If you want moss to grow on peat block or stones, one way to speed up the growing of moss is to brush the places where you want the moss to grow with buttermilk. That will speed up the natural process in places with right conditions.
When the moss cover desired area, you nurture the moss garden by constantly cleaning the moss from leaves and debris that shouldn’t be allowed to remain on the moss for a long time. Brush off any leaves and needless when the moss is dry and pick grass and plants off the moss area constantly.
And do not walk on the moss! A famous Finish writer Tove Jansson, wrote: “Only farmers and summer guests walk on moss!”. When you walk on a moss once, the moss recover the next time it rains, but if you walk on the moss a second time it may not recover, and the third time you walk on the same spot, the moss is dead and have to be replaced.
Other features in a moss garden and some more inspiration!
You can also plant a few perennials or shrubs as complement to the moss if you like. In that case, choose shrubs or perennials that like the same environment, as Rhododendrons, Ferns, Hostas and Trillium. But remember that for the special feeling in a moss garden, don’t overdo it, it is the moss that should be prominent feature, shrubs and perennials are only adjunct plants.
Stones are common in moss gardens and the stones that are best suited are natural stones that should be carefully chosen. You can use the stones as step stones or only for decoration.
Other common feature in a moss garden is water. Water can be added in a simple way by water in a bowl or as a prominent feature, like a stream or a pound.
You can also try and make moss grow on things like chairs or sofas for example. I hope you got some inspiration and tips of how to use moss in your garden from this article.
Do you have a shady area in your garden?
Would you consider to nurture moss in a part of your garden?
- Moss Acres - Gardening with moss and growing moss
Moss Acres ships four species of moss throughout the eastern and midwestern states. We also offer a complete line of accessories products for growing moss and gardening with moss.