How to encourage moss + what under maple darkness?

vladpupMarch 6, 2004


- i'm developing three "and a half" contiguous microclimes of shade garden and could use some suggestions.

- The "half" area is not a bed but a moderate to high traffic area between the north verandah and my shade propogation bed, under an ancient dogwood. Currently, this area is mostly a lovely soft carpet of moss but is spotted with unsightly tufts of grass. Is there any way to discourage the grass? Hand weeding it takes a lot of time, as the moss gets dislodged and has to be re-set each time. Are there other plants which would take traffic better than the moss?

- The first main area is under a 20' dogwood. i'm currently using this as a shade plant propogation bed, as it's the classic "slightly damp but well-drained rich soil" with a range from medium shade to dappled evening sun, good for pampering shade plants. Thanks to GardenWeb trades, i now have shade plants and seeds to propogate!

- The second main area is a 100 x 50 area under massive maples. Their canopies form a dark green-lit "cavern" in the summer, although it is bright in winter. The soil here is sucked dry by the maple roots. The soil also seems compacted, and i'm afraid to loosen it up or aerate as i wouldn't want to injure the maples' roots. The narsissus here grow, but are not multiplying, so i think they're not very happy. The ground is mostly barren with just tufts fo grass. Can i loosen the soil at all without hurting the maples? Can i add new soil on top without smothering the maples' roots? Is there anything that would actually LIKE being planted here in dark, dry, compacted soil?

- The third area is a 100' x 5' strip between the north edge of the maples' canopy and the front pasture fence. This slope down to the north a bit, and is mostly shaded but does get winter sun and summer late evening sun. Right along the fence it is within reach of the horses, so i can't use anything toxic here (such as helleborus.) The soil here is moderately rich, well-drained, and not too dry. Tasty treats such as hosta will only work away from the fence. i'd like some 3'-8' plants here, as well as smaller ones, so as to screen out the road beyond the front pasture. Colour (other than yellow or orange)would be nice.

- Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

- Happy gardening,


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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

In the cavern, I think you will struggle to grow much of interest in the summer, maybe a few tough ground covers like Vinca minor or Ajuga. Think about woodland plants like bluebells (I was thinking of the English ones, but pick your favourite), snowdrops, hardy cyclamen, lily of the valley, possibly colchicum. You might even get Brunnera to live under there, they prefer moisture but will survive dry summers.

Your moss sounds perfect for the traffic area. The less cultivation you can do the better, compact trampled soil is inhospitable to most plants but moss likes it. Maybe it needs more trampling to suppress the grass.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2004 at 6:19AM
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Yes, you can plant under a maple. Just choose the right plants and plan to water. Epimedium is by far the easiest. It is slow to spread, but drought tolerant and competes with the roots. I also have ferns: Japanese Painted, Christmas, and dryopyeris (felix mas and autumn varieties). Hardy Geraniums Biokova, Karmina, and Macrorrhizum (Ingwersen's Variety). Hosta, euphorbia robbiae, toad lily, plumbago and a Oak Leaf Hydrangea. Ground covers, sweet woodruff and hermann's pride and the shade grass Hakonechloa macra.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2004 at 9:27AM
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You might be able get the grass out of the moss by applying sulphur and making the soil too acidic for grass.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2004 at 8:05PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

moss is funny it grows where nothing else will grow but to try and make it grow - well thats another story... it likes compact soil or a hard surface - shading it well - keeping it moist will help - i had read of people seeding moss - by taking some moss and mixing it in a blender with beer or yougurt or cream and dilute enough with water so you can spray the mix with a squirt bottle or hose end sprayer and then saturate the area you are trying to grow moss on ... i have tried this on a concrete lawn ornament but havent seen results yet - it takes time ---

    Bookmark   September 16, 2004 at 4:55PM
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