Mosses in Gardens
Moses are a nice addition to many flower gardens and/or landscaped
yards. They are an attractive component of perennial
beds, bases of trees and shrubs, rock gardens or even to grass
Two methods for moss establishment are widely discussed in
the literature, transplanting of moss sod or fragments
and blending moss fragments in a blender. These
methods are mostly anectdotal, with very few controlled experiments
or systematic comparisons. Please share your experiences with
For lawns and garden beds both the transplanting and blending
methods work well. For rock or wood substrates the blending
method is preferred. Transplanting may offer a "finished"
look more rapidly, but it may also require a bit more work.
For the best results we recommend using the transplant method
then filling in with blended moss fragments. For either
method the steps to follow are quite similar:
- Sites where moss is already growing
is also a good indicator of a potentially successful site. Mosses
in Oregon may thrive in both moist AND sunny habitats.
- A shady, moist area, preferably
under broadleaf or conifer trees is ideal for lawns.
Preparing your site:
- Remove grass and other pre-existing
plants. Digging a slight trench may be necessary to level
the soil if using the transplantation method.
- Raking, hoeing or hand removal
of plants in your site is the best method. Herbicides have
also been used, but then you must wait for the herbicide to dissipate.
Water the soil until it is muddy.
Acquiring moss for transplanting or blending:
- In the Pacific Northwest, the best
time of year to collect and plant mosses is in the fall when
the ground is moist and the fall rains have begun. This
will decrease the watering requirements of your moss garden,
as the rain will naturally keep the moss moist.
- Gather small moss/sod fragments
from areas of your yard where moss is already established.
Mosses will rapidly fill in these patches.
- If no moss is growing in your yard
or on your property, roadcuts and roadsides nearby may offer
- Contact your local native plant
store. They may sell moss or be able to direct you in your
Planting your moss fragments (transplanting
- Moisten the bottom of collected
moss fragments and gently press the moss "sod" into
the selected site, firmly enough to remove any air pockets.
- Nails or small sticks may be used
to keep the moss sod in place on a slope or to prevent animal
Fill in your fragments with "blended
- Place pieces of moss in a blender
with a small amount of water and blend for two minutes.
The result should be a thick moss slurry. Addition of moss fragments
may be necessary for a thicker mixture.
- Paint or spread this slurry in
the areas between your moss patches.
- Many blended moss methods and mixtures
have been suggested including:
- 1. Water and moss alone is typically
sufficient for application to soil.
- 2. Potter's clay mix: 3 parts potter's
clay, 1 part fish emulsion fertilizer. This method is suggested
for use on clay pots or rock surfaces.
- 3. Buttermilk and/or egg to the
moss fragments. This method also offers "sticking"
power for rock or clay surfaces.
Water until moss is well established:
- As moss lack true roots of vascular
plants it is vital to keep them moist.
- In approximately 5 weeks your moss
"garden" should be well on its way.
- It may take several weeks to see
new moss growth. Sown moss fragments, instead of directly growing
new shoots revert to the protonemal form, which looks like a
thin film of green algae growing on the surface of the soil.
Don't worry, this is normal and the protonemal stage will soon
develop buds which grow into new moss shoots. See Basic
Biology of Mosses section.
For more on moss gardening see
the Recommended Links section.
Return to the
main page of this section