Moss FAQs: How to find or buy moss

deep_woods(z5 central IL)August 1, 2006

Are you looking for a little or a lot of moss? Do you want to cover five square feet or five hundred square feet?

Twenty five square feet or less

Look around your property or your neighbors(with his/her permission) property. Look in shady areas.

Moss can be found in shady areas of your lawn. If you donÂt find it on your property then go moss hunting.

Shade moss is found in shady ravines. Shade moss can be found in the woods at the base of trees or in the woods on any raised soil.

After a good rain moss is easier to spot because moss seems to have a green glow when fully hydrated. If you have sandstone cliffs or canyons near you that are shaded with a water feature like a stream or pond then many different species of moss can usually be found there. In those type of settings there can be found fifty to one hundred different species. Collecting in state and federal parks is prohibited without a permit. But by visiting the parks you can find what kinds of moss are in that locale. Then I might visit nearby lands or roadsides. On back country roads I find in the bottom of ravines, garbage or refuse, like old concrete or other bits of flotsam and jetsam of society. Sure enough growing on the discards of society are the local bryophytes.

As one chief naturalist once noted when we were walking in one of his parks and came across an old sneaker covered in moss: "Under the right conditions moss can cover anything". Michael Fletcher author of the Moss GrowerÂs Handbook (available for free downloading at then click on resources tab then download tab) or George Schenk author of Moss Gardening really emphasize that your own property or lawn can easily be treated to invite bryophytes as spores to colonize your property but more on that in cultivation and propagation.

Sunny mosses can be found on old roofs or on old stone bridges and foundations. The moss found commonly in the cracks of sidewalks and pavement are usually Bryum caespiticium and Bryum argenteum. I gave a short program on moss gardening this last Spring for the County Extension Service. Whenever I give one of these programs I have tried to bring along some moss to give away. I have probably given away three hundred square feet in the last year. Mostly I have given away shade mosses but for this session I decided to concentrate on collecting sunny mosses because a lot of people have sunny locations. So I drove around truck docks, old parking lots, old factories and back alleys. I probably found a couple hundred square feet of the sunny sidewalk mosses. I only needed about twenty square feet so I left the rest where I found them. IÂll go back later when I need more.

Search on the web. There are three vendors of moss "but we canÂt mention them in a posting" as well as individuals selling on ebay etc. I am not crazy about some of the prices but then good landscape material never is cheap. If you canÂt find it ,donÂt want to pay for it, and want something quicker than waiting for spores then in the propagation section of Moss FAQs will cover how to take moss and beer/buttermilk put them into a blender, blenderize your moss, and then spread the solution on growth media. Several people over the years have contributed on this forum about this method and I hope they will again.

You want to cover more than twenty five square feet.

If you are planning on collecting a lot of moss then just get collecting. I have gotten topography maps off the web, looked for north facing either wooded bluffs or shaded ravines. If this ground is near you and particularly if it is weed infested or has trash and litter on the ground or is just some piece of poor wooded ground not good for building, cultivation and has no nice residences nearby then you have found a good collection site. Oftentimes this is county or township right of way land that is not maintained. If you need to, get a companion to go with you. I gave a program at a landscape nursery in July 2004 for their staff and gave away about fifty some square feet of moss, mostly Brachythecium salebrosum, a wonderful thick carpetlike moss. The general manager asked me how much of that moss I could gather. I told him I could get two to three thousand square feet but I could only collect that moss the following Spring because only in the early Spring when the weeds are not up, can you collect moss in the location I collected.

Or you can buy the moss on the web or you can use some of the propagation techniques that will be discussed. Remember, many people plant grass seed and grow their own lawn. Essentially you can grow a shaded moss lawn the same way. I have talked to several people that have done that.

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