Moss is nature’s humble carpet and is often overshadowed by flashier plants, however, that doesn’t stop moss from bringing a lot to the table. Moss doesn’t require fertilizer and filters out air pollution at least three times more efficiently than other plants (depending on the pollutant). Moss gardens are also known to bring on feelings of soothing tranquility.
If you are looking for an alternative to grass and live in an area with lots of natural access to water, then consider cultivating a moss garden. Here’s how to do it.
Gather the moss
The best place to look for moss would be roadsides and parking lots according to Annie Martin, founder of Mountain Moss Enterprises and author of The Magical World of Moss Gardening. “I have an agreement with a neighborhood—several different ones—where I come in and I literally peel the mosses off the pavement,” she says.
She emphasizes the importance of not stealing moss from private properties, and to always ask your neighbor if you can collect unwanted moss from their rooftops or from construction sites. Besides, if you’re collecting moss that is thriving without anyone’s maintenance and in an environment where it’s constantly exposed to the sun or chemicals like those found in car exhaust, you can be quite certain that your moss garden will be resilient.
Distribute the moss
Moss can reproduce asexually as well as sexually, through spores, so once you’ve gathered all the moss you can, your best bet is to shred and distribute it wherever you wish your moss garden to take hold. To help your moss grow faster, Martin suggests two things: water and walking.
Walking on the moss may feel counter-intuitive, but it actually helps moss adhere to the soil because they have small rhizomes instead of roots. Mosses also love water and will grow much faster with more of it.
Prune the moss
Moss and other plants can get along splendidly, with all species benefitting. For instance, a tree can provide shade while the moss can absorb water and provide the tree with moisture. However, if you want to focus on a pure moss garden, then try to gather the fallen leaves and debris of other plants to keep them from smothering your moss.