Moss garden maintenance-for Runktrun

veilchen(5b southern Maine)June 10, 2007

Yesterday I knew I had to do something about all the blasted maple seedpods that have fallen on my moss (and everywhere else). Knowing full well, from experience, that the leaf vac isn't the way to go (sucks up moss), picking the seedpods individually by hand would take several hours, I set myself up with the shop vac & extension cord. Worked like a charm. Not as powerful as the leaf vac, so it doesn't suck up the moss as easily. But does suck up maple seedpods. I found that if you held the nozzle about 1/2 inch above the moss, the seedpods would get sucked up but the moss would be undisturbed. On some of the larger, well-established pieces, I was able to place the nozzle directly on the moss and go back & forth, like vacuuming upholstery.

Of course while I was doing this, my next-door neighbor happened to pull out of his driveway and saw me. If he didn't think I'd lost it yet, he sure does now.

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whitegarden(Z5 MA)

Would love to see pictures of your moss garden.

WG

    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 7:26AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

veilchen,
So it is official according to your neighbors you have now earned the title of Crazy Garden Lady, and you know the only way of ever regaining eye contact with the adults and stop the neighborhood children from running as fast as they can past your house is to make offerings of veggies or flowers from your garden!!!
Your shop vac discovery is pure genius and came at just the right time for me as my moss garden is under a canopy of oak trees that are now dropping tons of seed threads. As my moss is newly laid I may be jumping the gun but as soon as the threat of rain passes I want to give it a try and I will let you know. I was thinking it might be fun and interesting if you, Tricea, myself and anyone else who would like to contribute do a mutual thread on Moss Gardens. Off the top of my head it might include individual descriptions/photos of our gardens, then we could either mutually write or divide up topics such as general info on different moss varieties found in New England, the how to's of constructing a moss garden, maintenance, problems and solutions, links to other moss gardens, ect. This would not have to happen right away but it might give me something to think about as I am out there weeding with both hands. kt

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 7:40AM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

Sure kt just let me know! I am still learning and far from knowledgeable re: moss, but love how it looks (when not covered with litter or weeds poking through it).

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 6:04AM
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whitegarden(Z5 MA)

I am begging you to post photos. I want to start a moss garden and need inspiration!

WG

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 7:37AM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

ok ok I'll get out there tonight!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 1:54PM
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whitegarden(Z5 MA)

Yay!!!!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 8:24AM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

Here are some pics, they're not very good. It rained most of the day today and was windy, so now the moss is littered with more debris. I have to get out there and remove the pine needles by hand again.

The moss garden is located on the NE side of the house. Gets morning sun, probably too much sun, esp. at the arbor end. This is an entrance to my rose garden.


Thalictrum in the background, I am hoping it gets tall and arches over that end. We cut bamboo screening and stuck it onto the concrete foundation, which was really ugly.


If you see the hole in the center right mound, that is from my thumb last year when pressing down on the moss. Mounds are tricky to make contact with the soil.


Messy moss. Why does it look so much cleaner in the woods?

Eventually I want to incorporate more Asian elements into the moss garden. I have a cutleaf drooping J. maple on the sunny end (that I hope will eventually help shade the moss more). Also a new tree peony, one or the other has to go as the space is too small for both. A little pagoda or buddha would be cool amongst the moss. We are still filling in spaces and if this works out, I will expand the moss garden farther out.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 4:52PM
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whitegarden(Z5 MA)

Thanks for the photos!

WG

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 6:58AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

veilchen,
WOW what a nice entrance into your rose garden and again I really like the bamboo idea. The linear run of mounding moss is very relaxing to the eye, it has more interest than a run of lawn yet the same calming effect. Now hope I don't loose you when I start using Latin but how many varieties do you have growing I recognize the silver moundy one but it appears you have other interesting types as well. How old is your garden it seems as though the silver moundy ones are morphing into other shapes. I like the idea of a Japanese Maple it is such a natural. Do you have enough shade to line the other side of your rose arbor with another moss garden and pebble path between? When I see your garden it gives me incentive that one day my moss may begin to grow. How often did you water your first year? How do you keep the grass out of the garden without disturbing the moss? My silver moundy ones are ripped up by the birds did you have any bird problems?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 7:32AM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

kt that is a good idea, moss on other side. I will keep that in mind after I see if the current moss garden works out. I have no idea what the different mosses are called, I was going for the biggest variety of shades of green, shapes, and textures I could find. Not many of them have grown, as far as I can tell. My intent was to place them in pleasing positions and see which types "took" the best and see which ones grew the fastest, if at all, then move things around accordingly. So far I am still waiting to see what happens (if anything!). We just "installed" the moss late last summer. I watered every day for a while. No problem with birds (yet) but squirrels started tearing things up last fall. I sprinkled some cayenne powder on it and that kept them away. Although the moss looked an ugly russet color until it eventually washed off. I would try bird netting if I had bird problems.

Most of the moss pieces have "took" but I find the smaller ones are harder to get attached. From now on when I collect I will go for larger mats or mounds.

Last week I edged the bed, you know, English edging with a half-moon edger. Twice a season and maybe once in fall keeps the grass out.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 10:36AM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

I was out earlier spending quality time with my moss, cleaning off the pine needles, etc. as we are on the garden tour on Sat. Thought I'd take some close up pics of some of the moss.


This is a nice big piece that took very well.


The photo isn't very good but you can see how this one has a more "leafy" texture.


These two little mounds are the same but "took" at different times, so one is in a different "phase" than the other.


This one's different. It is a moss but looks like lichen. BTW, we tried transplanting lichen but it would just "sit there" in a state of suspended animation and eventually got blown away from the wind.


I like this kind--it sends up bronzish shoots that open to green "leaflets" at 2" high. The section to the left looks like it's dying, but it is attached so maybe it will come back.


This kind is hard to clean as little bits of it come up so easily with the slightest pressure.


Again, not a good photo, but the stuff in the middle that looks like a clump of grass is actually a moss. Dh found it last year. I'm glad it survived and would love to know the name of it.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 1:54PM
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whitegarden(Z5 MA)

What a great slection you have! I had to laugh. I purchase the moss you showed in the first picture by the case for my work. It looks exactly the same when I work with it. Maybe I should try to plant the leftovers.

WG

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 5:25PM
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fsangermano_hotmail_com

HI-
I moved to a house that has a backyard very shady and with acid soil. Most of the ground cover is moss and I love it. I'm trying to make the moss grow as a carpet but grass is growing in some areas and I don't know how to remove it. I tried to pull the grass out by the roots but it will take for ever. Any suggestions?
Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 9:09PM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

Try Roundup on the grass. Do it as a trial in a test area. I have heard conflicting reports as to whether Roundup kills moss or not. Try it on a patch of grass, wait a few weeks, and see if the grass is killed but the moss is ok. There is another weed killer called Grass B Gone that may be even safer (supposed to kill only grass).

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 5:43AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

veilchen,
Such beautiful diversity of mosses in your garden encouraged me to collect some while on a walk over the weekend. Ironically we returned home to the aftermath of a moss garden massacre thanks to the birds. It took most of Monday afternoon to patch and attempt to repair before I dashed out to buy the black plastic bird netting. I returned home to you guessed it another massacre. I must admit the netting is hardly visible but will make the never ending weeding more difficult.
fsangermano,
If you do try this would you report back the results I think many folks would be interested.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 8:41AM
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nandina(8b)

Re: the bird damage. I stumbled onto the following while working out some topiary ideas. Some of you might want to try this to see if it diverts the birds. Totally unexpected, interesting discovery.

Materials needed:
Regular poly fill used to stuff cloth animals
Sewing machine
Waterproof glue
Weed barrier cloth...the type with a sort of black suede finish on one side which is the outside of the following form.

I assume that you can figure out how to sew a ball shape. Weed barrier cloth is easily stiched on a sewing machine. Sew a ball shape about 12" high, leaving the bottom open for stuffing. Glue each seam with the waterproof glue. Set aside to dry for several days. Turn right side out, stuff with fiber fill, place a heavy flat stone or brick in the bottom for weight and sew the opening closed with thin brass wire. All this is easy to do.

Now...using sharp scissors or knife, poke about ten holes in the ball and using a crochet hook pull some of the stuffing to the surface in wisps. Set the ball(s) in the moss garden and watch what happens. Happy birds which love the stuffing and are not so intent on your moss.

An additional surprise to me. I was working with a combination of polly fill, potting soil and milled peat moss for stuffing. Experimenting as always, I added sieved dry moss to this mix in a pail, got all very wet, squeezed out the moisture and stuffed my weed barrier cloth forms with this. Set them in the shade, kept them watered and the forms grew moss.

Just an idea you might want to play with. These creations last for many, many years.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 10:52AM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

I am going to fertilize the moss garden today. I read somewhere that George Schenk recommends 1 quart of buttermilk per 2 galloms of water. That sounds excessive. How does buttermilk fertilize the moss? I hope it doesn't "burn" it. Wonder if it will smell bad. I'll let you know how it goes.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 8:36AM
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flors

Thanks for the tip for killing the grass... I'll try it!
I read somewhere on the web that in order to grow moss on bare areas I should take the moss I want to 'transplant' and mix it in a food processor with beer and sugar until it looks like a paste... then cover the area I want the moss to grow with this paste... sounds weird but I don't know anything about moss... have any of you tried this?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 11:16PM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

I thought I would update my first season with this moss garden. The heat and humidity has made the moss very happy and although I have neglected to weed and water over the past month and have a skunk living near by my biggest problem remains the birds. The crows have been happily devouring blueberries from an abutting 15' native bush then poking around the moss regardless of netting looking for slugs which by the way are plentiful. I have previously thought of putting in a small pond near by but now know better than to add anything in the area that will attract birds.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2007 at 10:47AM
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vintagedjd(5)

Thank you for posting those pictures Veilchen,
They have inspired me to make my own moss garden in the front of my house. I'm almost finished with it; hope to be done by Memorial Day.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 5:38AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

Vintage,
Cool to meet another moss gardener. I might suggest that you keep an eye out for critter damage. Robins do the most amount of damage in my moss garden by ripping the moss to shreds looking for insects that live underneath. To me it seems to be as instinctual as a sea gull dropping a scallop/clam on a shoreline rock to split open the shell.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 7:13PM
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vintagedjd(5)

Thank you Runktrun, I did run into that problem more in the beginning of summer while the moss was taking hold of it's new home. But once it took, I didn't have much of a problem with it the rest of the season. I can't wait till spring. Once and a while the snow melts and the moss is still green. It's nice that it stays green all year long.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 5:53AM
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