Growing a moss lawn

24 November, 2014

Ethereal and aged, moss is a coveted backyard backdrop seemingly found exclusively in the exteriors of vintage homes and forest floors. Once it takes root, moss will flourish year-round, always stays green and requires minimal (if any) upkeep. A great alternative to grass in stubborn, shady spots, this plant adds a layer of charm to outdoor seating areas and a touch of character to any existing landscaping. Moss may be slow to grow, but growing a green carpet in your backyard is possible regardless of where you live or how old your home is.

Preparing for moss
The first step of crafting a moss lawn is clearing away any existing shrubbery or grass, as an area of nothing but dirt is needed. Arrange your outdoor furniture somewhere outside the intended growing zone for the time being, then dig up all vegetation by the roots using a shovel. Contouring the bare ground is an important next step, as moss needs flat, level soil to make progress.

Luckily, this simple plant will grow in almost any kind of soil as long as there isn't too much sand. If you're worried that weeds or other small shrubs will grow back, you can use a pre-emergent to hinder the process. Moss will filter ground water after it has taken root, but run off will prevent it from spreading in the early stages. A good way to mitigate this is by forming a water barrier using rocks or stone.

There are two main types of moss: acrocarps and pleurocarps. The former are taller, upright mosses, while the latter are the flatter kind typically seen in expansive areas. While pleurocarps more easily form the desired carpet or lawn look, combining the two will create a collage of textures and colors that will make your backyard even more compelling. This looks especially cool when done in a shaded area where you'll put outdoor dining sets or firepits.

Planting the moss
Moss can be transferred directly onto the prepared soil. Water it generously and walk on top of the area afterwards to help it more easily attach. The next step: patience.

Caring for your moss lawn
Due to its primitive nature, moss needs little in the way of maintenance. Although it grows slowly, there are several things you can do to expedite the process. Moisture is an important contributor, so dedicating two minutes a day to watering helps immensely. Continuously removing loose materials like leaves or pebbles will also promote forward movement.

While growing a moss lawn may take some time, it adds considerable depth and makes a home feel like it has rich history.