The advantages of using moss in shaded areas
Many homeowners who have shaded areas on their property struggle to find the right landscape material for their purposes. Lawns typically do not thrive in shade conditions because of the lack of both quality and quantity of light and, also because the blades of grass tend to remain wet longer through the day after morning dew and consequently become more prone to disease. Moss is the perfect alternative.
Why moss is the right choice
There are several reasons why moss will do well in a shaded area like a lawn alternative:
• With even minimal amounts of water, moss will stay green. And, when it is faced with inadequate water supplies, it doesn’t quickly die.
• Preparation of a moss bed is simple. Moss requires no digging, and it prefers compacted poor-quality soil. Moss tolerates a wide-ranging variety of soils, even those with acidic pH ranges.
• Moss is deficient maintenance. It should never be mowed or raked. It requires no fertilizer.
• Deer do not eat it.
• Perhaps best of all, moss loves the shade.
Types of shade moss for the landscape
There are many varieties of moss, but the best way to select the right one is to consider the specific application. Among the most popular types of moss for the home garden are:
• Sheet moss – This is a versatile, easy to grow moss with a medium growth height. The name sheet comes from its tendency to grow in long coats. It will tolerate light sun, although not late afternoon sun. Sheet moss also tolerates light foot traffic. Interestingly, this is often the type of moss sold for craft or decorative applications, but the moss is no longer living at that time.
• Cushion moss – Cushion moss forms ball-like structures or tufts that can be anywhere from one to two inches or up to three feet across. It is sometimes called white moss because of its tendency to appear silvery-white when dry, only to return to its rich green color when wet. The ball appearance becomes quite dramatic when observed in mass plantings.
• Carpet moss – This type of moss forms dense, green carpet-like mats as it matures. The young carpet moss is more of a golden, green color. Carpet moss is similar to sheet moss in its tolerance of bright sun and light foot traffic.
Tips to help your moss lawn thrive
Site preparation is the first step. Although little needs to be done to the soil, it is best to be sure all plant material is removed from where the moss will grow and then rake the area clean of debris. It’s preferable to purchase a native moss from your local nursery if possible. Typically, moss needs more water in the first four to six weeks until it is established, especially if planted in the warm summer months. Afterward, reduce watering, but always check the edges of the moss area as they tend to dry out. Weed as necessary.