Newbie needs help with first moss garden

dr.liz(7 NJ)September 21, 2013

I have an area under a crabapple tree where not much will grow except moss. There is some moss growing there naturally.

I bought a starter box from Moss Acres and went out today to start planting. I put down a few sheets of the sheet moss, which looks quite a bit like the stuff that is already there. I then decided to try the cushion moss on a brick, which they show on the website. I cannot for the life of me see how that is going to stay in place. Is there some way I can secure it, or should I forget about the brick and simply put it on the soil? The clumps are sort of falling apart and they are pretty tall, so it is really confusing to me how those are supposed to get established anywhere. Any help would be appreciated.

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Hi Liz,

Not an expert, but some things I have noted about already established moss might help you. I live in a very rocky area and I often come across patches of moss that appear to be growing on the soil. However, if I examine what's under them I find that they are actually growing on a flat rock that is embedded in the soil! So, maybe if you find some flat rocks and partially bury them that would work...somehow this also helps the moss retain moisture. You might also look for rotting logs to embed the sheet moss if you want a more natural appearance for your moss garden. I built a rock wall and added pockets of rotten wood and soil...the rock appeals to some moss and the rotting wood is good for the soil-loving species. Keep your moss moist and free from leaf debris and you can't go wrong!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 5:28PM
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Hi Liz,

First of all the supplier should be able to answer such questions, but there are some general things which are nice to know.

Using moss in gardening is very, very common in japanese gardening. You may get better answers in a japanese gardening forum, you may read about it in books about japanese gardening and best of all - you may get inspiration and tips&tricks from visiting japanese gardens.

Also, until they are established most mosses like it very humid but not wet! You may cover with semitransparent plastic - this allows for some light, allows humidity to remain high and also protects against wind which can be a problem until the moss is established.

Most mosses prefer a slightly acidic surface - you can try a solution of water with a little milk and a little lemon on a surface before adding the moss (but then, that really depends on the specific species of moss).

Finally: Many mosses are highly specialized! You must know the species and what environment it belongs to. If it is accustomed to growing on wet soil, you'll never, ever get it to attach to a stone - regardless of how flat it is. And vice versa.

Regards, Hans Olav

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 8:46AM
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