Gardeners have a love/hate relationship with moss

April 1, 2008 lawanda Newspaper Columns

      Some gardeners love moss.  Some gardeners hate moss.  Some gardeners love moss in some places but hate moss in other places.

      Moss growing in your lawn is actually a symptom rather than the cause of a poor lawn.  Moss grows in shade where soil is compacted and has a low pH.  Poor drainage and mowing too closely also encourage the growth of moss. 

      The kind of moss growing in your lawn will actually tell you what the problem is.  Mosses with an upright growth habit, green growth at the top and brown stems at the base indicate dry, acidic soil.  Trailing mosses with a flat growth pattern and pale green foliage and stems are symptoms of a shaded lawn with poor drainage.  Cushion mosses have tiny upright stems and a compact, dense growth habit.  They appear in lawns mowed too closely to soil level. 

      If you don’t like the moss, remove it using Safer Brand Moss & Algae Killer, a soap-based product that does not harm the environment.  If the underlying problems are not corrected, however, the moss will return.  Power raking will take care of all the above problem conditions.  Top dressing with compost, aerating the soil and raising the mower blade will help as well.

      Some people enjoy the beauty of moss and want to encourage it in their lawns.  Just looking at the green color of moss reduces stress, and a shady, mossy area can add a degree of serenity to any landscape.  Growing moss is becoming an increasingly desirable low-maintenance alternative to grass lawns. 

      Moss is best in areas that are not high traffic as it does not stand up to heavy wear.  Moss lawns may be planted in spring or summer.  Work compost into the soil, water, then lay down cushions or mats of moss, including some of the earthy matter in which it was growing – pine needles, rotting wood, forest litter.  Press the moss down firmly.  If you do not have access to already growing moss that you can transplant, it can be ordered over the internet.

      Spray the moss with 1 quart buttermilk mixed with 2 gallons of water in mid-spring to encourage growth.  To start moss in a new area, put a clump of moss in a blender with buttermilk and water and mix together.  Spread it where you want moss to grow.  Yogurt can be used in place of buttermilk.  You can give terra cotta, metal and stone pots and even rocks newly added to a landscape a prematurely aged look by spreading the moss mixture on their sides.  A few ounces of potters clay added to the mixture in the blender will help it stick better to rocks.

      Mist the transplanted material and new growth daily and do not walk on it until it is well established.  Occasional weeding is all the maintenance needed.

landscapingOrganic gardeningPests/Weeds/Invasives


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