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If I have heard it once I have heard it a thousand times…”my grass used to be lush and full now moss it taking over!” On the other hand I have another group of folks who want to buy moss plants or the new Moss Milkshake that allows you to grow moss in your shady garden. So “How do you moss?”
Lets talk about those die hard lawn fans first. You want a nice lawn and the moss is crowding out your grass. I was once told that moss was God’s last ditch effort to get something green to appear on the ground and in many cases I see that as being factual. Moss can survive on very little light, on compact ground and under trees with extensive surface roots all conditions that are most difficult for lawns to thrive in. Killing the moss with a liquid or granular control product can allow for lawn to re-establish but often we are fighting a loosing battle. The moisture absorbed by thirsty roots of mature trees make growing lawns difficult at best. For those who want to fight a good battle select a high quality dense shade grass seed, provide a nutrient rich soil blend (2-4” deep) and keep the grass watered during periods of drought. Cutting the grass at a taller height will increase the depth of the grass roots as well as help shade out competing moss plants. Fertilize regularly and provide core aeration as the lawn develops to keep the root system growing deeply, breathing and well-fed.
There is far more fans of moss than ever before. As our landscapes mature (along with our trees) more of our yards have areas where mosses can thrive. Moist, but not wet, and shady areas lend themselves to moss gardening. Mosses thrive in nutrient poor soils where other garden plants may fail. The overall effect of a moss garden is a very calming and soothing environment… just what we can all use at the end of a long day. Mosses do not require deep soil to draw nutrients and can survive on a variety of surfaces, not just soil. Mosses do not have roots but take all their water and nutrients through their leaves so a moist environment is critical. Moss can suffer in early spring before they receive protection from emerging tree foliage and also go dormant under the snow during winter months.
Mosses can be transplanted and divided but will require frequent irrigating and/or misting until they re-establish in their new locations. Moss Milkshake is another way to establish moss in desired areas. Simply add water to the powdered solution and apply to the ground, rocks, pots, and statues… anything you want to be covered in moss. Pots and other items can be covered in plastic to maintain humidity and enhance moss growth. Rainwater is most beneficial for mosses… avoid salt or chlorinated water. Do not fertilize moss that can contribute to the growth of weeds and other plants that may compete with your moss.
Now that you are more familiar with how to grow and/or how to get rid of moss you may better be able to know if moss is good or bad for you.
Now go outside and have fun in the dirt.