Moss For Garden

Mosses grow almost anywhere, and there are thousands of varieties of moss, so it’s easy to come across this type of greenery. Most people who see moss in their garden find it a headache, commonly growing undesirably between spaces in paving or damaging the look of a lawn.However, a moss garden, in fact, has dozens of benefits.Moss gardening is traditional in Japan; today, it’s a common option for ground cover and rock gardens. Considering most moss spreads in a carpeted manner and is undemanding, it’s a perfect substitute for grass when you itch for something green in your yard.Growing moss is rather easy, but doing it productively needs a little knowledge about a moss plant and its varieties. Given the versatility of this ancient plant, its simple elegance and its many uses around the landscape, cultivating moss can be a rewarding experience.

Common Varieties Of Moss

Garden moss is actually a variety of very simple plants that grow virtually anywhere and on the surface outside, especially if it’s shady and damp. You might see it not just in your yard but also on the shaded area of your house’s roof, maybe even on windowsills and walkways that sit mostly in the shade.

In the list below, you’ll see some of the common mosses that may be found in Canada.

Sheet Moss

It’s the most common type of moss, grows in deep shade, and holds a high transplant success rate. Sheet moss is manageable to grow and can withstand foot traffic as it doesn’t have deep roots, making it a great option as a partition between paving stones or a lawn alternative.

Burned Ground Moss/Purple Moss

This species likes growing in dry areas and can also handle the edges of roads, fields, and even roofs. When wilted, its lush, velvet-like surface looks brown but offers it enough water, and a dense green colour will return.

Rock Cap Moss

This plant is located in damp places that obtain poor sunrays. When the Rock cap moss is maintained in a garden, it can grow on brick, planters, stone, or everything else it will cling to. It is an excellent choice for a more bizarre garden. Or use it as a groundcover rather than grass lawn for shady areas.

Haircap Moss

Haircap moss, or goldilocks/Polytrichum commune, is a bright green one that grows somewhat tall (between 6 and 12 inches) and resembles a tiny forest. This bristly feature to a moss garden gives a good height contrast against other moss. It favours medium shade to partial sun and sandy, acidic soils.

Cushion Moss

This moss prefers shade but can tolerate partial sun. The moss plant is easily identifiable due to its dense, compact cushions and light green with a silvery white cast. It changes colour and appearance based on its moisture levels. Cushion moss likes growing in moist woods, on soil, or on decomposing wood, and it would be an attractive element to add to a moss garden.

Fern Moss

Also called log moss, it is fast-growing and robust and another suitable grass alternative in a shady yard. It slowly spreads across the land in a beautiful, feathery carpet and thrives on damp soil, decomposing leaves, and decaying wood.
A close up of a bunch of moss-covered plants.

Acrocarpous Mosses Vs. Pleurocarpous Mosses

Acrocarpous mosses grow upright and have a tighter formation (grows thick and tightly packed stems) which works well to prevent weed growth. This type of moss produces foliage that is usually unbranched and erect, forming a mounded colony. This group includes varieties like haircap moss and cushion moss.

On the other hand, pleurocarpous mosses grow faster than acrocarpous mosses, cling to rocks, and grow well on rough surfaces. They spread out branches from the colony in a creeping manner. Examples of this type include sheet moss and fern moss.

Is It Easy To Grow A Moss Lawn?

Moss doesn’t have seeds. It has spores, which is why transplanting is the best way to grow it quickly. It will typically grow in conditions that contradict the regular grass, which makes it a perfect alternative for those who like to maintain the lawn’s good condition. It is low maintenance and can be planted in various locations.

Growing Moss Gardens

When To Plant Moss

The best time to transplant or grow moss is in early spring when the sun sits lower in the sky, and the soil conditions are still wet from winter rain or snow. It helps the moss bed to settle before the summertime, and other demanding growing needs arise. But ensure any frost threat has passed before choosing a shady location for your moss garden.

How To Transplant Moss

Adding moss to a spot in your yard (or replacing your whole lawn) is easy. The easiest way is from within your yard and areas having the same soil, moisture, and light conditions.

Collect strips of moss

Suppose you have moss growing on your lawn already; gently scrape beneath the layer of moss with a hand spade and lift it from the ground.

If you reap your moss, be mindful that different moss grows in various settings. As an illustration, a moss plant harvested from a dense forest will not grow efficiently in an open area with light shade.

If you don’t see any moss around you, go to a local garden store and purchase it by the square foot. Inquire about the specific conditions needed by their moss.

Lay A Landscape Fabric

For a more robust transplant, lay a small piece of moss on landscape fabric. Then, place it in a shallow water tray so the moss is not underwater but remains wet. Once the moss filaments cling to the fabric, shift the entire piece onto the soil patch you’ve primed for transplanting.

Weed the Entire Area

Clear the planting area of debris, weeds, and leaves. With the place emptied, it should be smoothed out and compacted. Lightly scrape the soil surface to be flat but textured. Moss will not attach if it does not have good contact with the soil, so take it easy in this stage.

Test The Soil pH

Moss likes acidic soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.0, so you may have to increase or reduce the pH, depending on the results.

Lime is always considered to kill moss by making the soil more alkaline, but some experts indicate that there are mosses that prefer alkaline soil. And some are so adaptable that they will handle either alkaline or acid soil.

Wet The Planting Area

Water the soil before adding your moss to promote growth and prevent the moss from withering. Allow the water to soak in for about half an hour until the soil is noticeably moist but without puddles or standing water.

Apply The Moss

Position moss pieces onto the area with a firm hand on the prepared soil. No digging is required, but you must press it down to implant the transplanted moss strips in the soil’s surface. You can also arrange some light stones on the moss as a temporary anchor.

If you have an expansive space you would need to cover, you can adopt a plug method like you would with grass. Add moss selections at routine intervals over the area. The moss will ultimately spread together.

According to David Spain, you can safely use a pre-emergent herbicide where you intend to transplant the moss.

Keep It Moist

Water the moss immediately after transplanting. For the first two weeks, water the moss at least once a day to help the moss establish itself successfully. Once established, transplanted moss must only need extra water in periods of drought.
A close-up of green moss.

How To Maintain Moss Garden

Moss is specific about its environment. But you don’t have to mope over using fertilizers, pesticides, or nourishment to keep your moss garden looking well-conditioned. This plant is resilient, thrives well in sunshine and shade, and doesn’t require pruning.

But a steady source of ambient moisture and attentive care to keep it debris- and weed-free (because mosses count on their leaf blades for the flow of water and nutrients). Weeds can rob the moisture on your moss garden and leave it looking dehydrated and flaky. If you see any weeds emerging in your moss garden, remove them from the roots. Hand-weeding is vital to prevent weed infestations because they are tough to control once they have overspread.

And remove some fallen leaves using a leaf blower instead of raking, because leaves can burn them. Monitor your moss garden throughout the seasons to ensure it has plenty of room to grow and thrive.

The threat of wind or rain can be addressed by laying netting over the moss garden.

How To Grow Moss On Rocks

To transplant moss to a rock or brick surface, walls, or between paving stones, a slurry is the easiest and fastest way to create moss.

Make The Slurry

Grab a few healthy mosses and grind them into the blender. Pour equal amounts of water and buttermilk (or beer) into a blender, and give it 4 to 5 pulses until the ingredients look thoroughly mixed.

If your mixture is too thick to spread quickly, add more water. If it’s too thin, add more moss.

Allow the blend to sit for one or two days before beginning the application.

Pour The Mixture

Spray the stone with some water before you apply the solution. Then use a paintbrush to cover any surface where you like moss to thrive.

If you’re eyeing having them in more than one stone, gather the rocks together, and furnish underlying layers of soil between them to encourage moss growth.

Water The Moss

Lightly spray the moss until it’s firmly established – around six times a day will work out. You’ll need to repeat this process until you see visible moss forming. The slurry might first develop mould, but in approximately six weeks, you must notice signs of moss.
A moss-covered stone wall.

Benefits Of Having Moss Plants/Garden

Not only is moss aesthetically appealing, but it also has environmental benefits.


Since moss gardens don’t have a root system, they don’t absorb nutrients from the soil. Moss lawn gets nutrients through its leaves — from sunlight and rainfall. It doesn’t need much weeding and mowing. And once established, it will be unlikely to need watering.

In comparison, grass requires periodic mowing and uprooting of old grass, which demands effort, takes time, and even costs money.


While most species like shade, some moss varieties genuinely enjoy the sun and will grow happily in proper sunlight. A well-established moss lawn rarely needs spraying once established. The moss will only become dormant in poor conditions.

Grow Anywhere

If conditions are promising, moss will grow virtually anywhere, even where no other plants will (or can), e.g., on woods, stones, and deep shade. In areas where environments are unfavourable for grass, garden moss dominates. Most mosses don’t mind the soil pH.


Moss is tough enough to endure foot traffic. You can walk, drive a car, or ride a bike across it. It is because moss can be squished flat, and it will bounce back relatively quickly.


Moss likes being covered by snow as it keeps it hydrated. It still exhibits growth patterns in sub-zero temperatures.

This plant has a natural antifreeze to withstand cold conditions. And once the snow defrosts, moss appears healthier thanks to the extra moisture. Besides, snowmelt provides the necessary moisture for photosynthesis. And snow offers a cushion for higher temperatures that enables photosynthesis to proceed.

Ideal Lawn Replacement

Moss is a lawn replacement; it grows well under tall trees where common turf grass can’t succeed. Most mosses can tolerate light foot traffic. In addition, growing between stepping stones and next to water features, the mosses produce a monochromatic green appearance.

Ecosystem Benefits

Mosses are nests for beneficial insects and not havens for damaging ones.

Erosion Control

Because moss does cling once it is secured to a surface, it is a useful mechanism for receding erosion. Moss can hold up to 20 times its weight in water. Its rhizoids grow straight down and help it anchor to the growing surface.

Moss garden is also practical at catching stormwater runoff. The leaves of moss trap water and suck it up so vascular plants can’t compete.

No Pollution

You will need no soil supplements or fertilizers and other chemicals to encourage growth, meaning you get to play a part in keeping natural water sources safe. Here’s why: those chemicals seep into the ground and end up joining the streams of water beneath it, polluting the water sources.

Will Moss Grow Better Than Grass?

Description with keyword "moss": a close up of a patch of moss and flowers.
Moss grows way better than grass because it has acclimated to thrive in unfavourable soil conditions and shady garden areas, compared to grass which requires high-quality soil, daylight, and water.

Moss also boasts shallow roots, so it doesn’t demand to be planted deep in the ground. It can quickly grow in inferior, compacted, or rocky ground.

Final Thoughts

After reading our article, we hope you feel that you have a deeper grasp of moss gardening.

Are you also one of those that eliminate it from their lawn? When all of the benefits of moss and the aesthetic it adds to your property are weighed, start planting carpet moss gardens. You can go simple and cover a small shaded area of your garden or make the moss the centre of attention in your garden. The possibilities are endless!

Curb Wise