Using types of ground cover moss in gardens has been popular in Japan for a long time and is just catching on in the U.S. — and no wonder! Moss is allergen-free, needs no pruning or fertilizing and, once established, no watering.
Most types of ground cover moss prefer shade, but some tolerate light sun. Fern moss gets its name from its medium-green, fern-like branches, can tolerate some sun, and is the easiest to transplant. Dark green rock cap moss will grow on rocks or other masonry material, but burns unless planted in shade. Cushion moss is so named for its springy, cushion-like feel and is wonderful for use in areas you’ll be walking barefoot. This moss is lighter green and can tolerate some sun. Hair cap moss is the tallest of the four types.
Moss is an excellent, low-maintenance ground cover for a shade garden, particularly beneath mature trees where cultivation may damage the tree’s roots. In sites where grass has difficulty growing, rather than using lots of chemicals to kill the moss already growing there, why not grow a moss lawn? It’ll need no mowing, thatching, or fertilizing. Use moss to between the paving stones of walkways or patios, or use rock cap moss on boulders, stone fountains and walls, or concrete garden ornaments to give an aged feel.
Start by clearing the site of all debris and vegetation. Mosses like slightly acidic soil, so amend with sulfur powder. To plant, you can soak moss and drench soil, then press sheets firmly into the ground; you can also combine a clump with buttermilk in a blender, mix well, and pour over desired location; alternatively, you can crumple dried moss over the area and water. Whichever method you use, you cannot water moss too much while it’s becoming established.
Moss can be purchased online at sites like Moss Acres. Some garden centers carry it, or you’ll likely find it somewhere around your yard. To transplant, lift with a spatula or trowel.