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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Types of Moss to Use in a Moss Lawn or Moss Garden

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A comparison of some of the most common types of moss (hypnum or fern moss, cushion moss, rock cap moss, and stone moss) to use when replacing a lawn or using moss to fill in a garden walkway.

Hypnum

Hypnum, also called log moss or fern moss, is a shade-loving moss with a light to moderate green color that is very dense and can stand up to some foot traffic. Hypbum is probably the most common lawn replacement moss, both for its lawn-like qualities (year-round green and resistance to foot traffic) and its ease of transplantation. Hypnum is best grown in deep shade or partial shade. It cannot thrive in areas that have direct afternoon light, and will grow best in damp full shade areas. This plant is a slow grower, so the area targeted for growth should be fully transplanted or “planted” with moss. Hypnum moss can be peeled back from the area where it is transplanted from and directly planted in its new location. Once in place, the new moss transplant needs to be watered in, but is otherwise good to go. Hypnum can also be dried and “ground” into small fragments ¼” to ½” and applied by hand and then watered in. This is a good choice to economically cover a large area like a lawn or a roof or a large walkway.

Cushion Moss (Leucobryum)

The leucobryum family of mosses grow in tight formations that have a spongy, cushiony feel to them. There are several varieties grown in lawn gardens: leucobryum glaucum (which prefers year-round wet and full shade) and leucobryum albidum (which can tolerate partial to full sun and can even withstand a long dry spell while maintaining a brilliant, almost fluorescent green color). Leucobryum mosses have growths that look like little fingers. The growths occur in tight, rounded clumps. This moss is good for creating highlights and areas of interest and texture in a moss garden, but may not be the best choice for a foundation plant for your moss garden.

Hair Cap Moss (Polytrichum)

Hair cap moss gets its name from the long and dense stems it produces that grow up to 12” in length. Hair cap moss is found across the Northern Hemisphere in temperate and sub arctic environments, including most of North America, New Zealand, and parts of the Pacific. This moss type grows well in very wet and slightly acidic soil and prefers part shade and can tolerate some areas that get some full sun during the day. This moss has a deep and full green color and can add some visual appeal to a moss garden. The moss has a spongy and soft feeling but cannot tolerate much direct pressure from a walkway. Hair cap moss is typically grown by transplantation. The area where you want to plant the moss is cleared of existing plants and a patch of open soil is exposed. This best done in the early morning or on a cool day to avoid the soil from drying out too much. The transplantation mat of moss is applied to the area and the moss is lightly watered in to signal to the plant to trigger new growth.

Rock Cap Moss (Dicranum)

Rock cap moss, as the name implies, is found in the wild on rocks, boulders, and rocky outcroppings. This type of moss is of a medium density and as a spongy and firm texture and a medium or dark-green color (depending on the amount of sun and water the plant receives). Rock cap moss likes deep and dark shade and great care should be taken to make sure that it does not receive too much direct sun, especially after initial planting/transplantation or in the spring or fall when it is most vulnerable. Rock cap moss is applied in either transplanted clumps and applied directly to the rock or ground to be covered or is “ground” into ¼ to ½ inch particles that are spread by hand over the area where the moss is to be grown. Once the moss is established, it is quite hardy and will not require much care at all, aside from assuring that the area stays shady.

Posted by casey on 06/07 at 07:03 PM
Landscaping & SiteworkOutdoor Structures

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