How to Grow Moss in Your Backyard

How to Grow Moss in Your Backyard

Moss can be a beautiful addition to any backyard landscape. With its soft green hues and lush texture, moss creates an enchanting woodland feel. Growing moss yourself is simple with the right conditions and a little patience. Here’s everything you need to know about how to grow moss in your backyard.

Selecting a Moss Species

There are over 12,000 species of moss, but not all are suitable for backyard growing. The best types of moss for backyards include:

  • Cushion moss – Dense, low-growing moss perfect for covering areas between pavers or stones. Easy to grow.

  • Haircap moss – Forms velvety green carpets. Grows well in shady areas.

  • Mood moss – Intensely green moss that creates rolling hills and mounds. Spreads quickly.

  • Fern moss – Feathery moss with delicate fronds. Adds lovely texture.

For beginners, I recommend starting with cushion, mood or haircap moss. They readily propagate in backyard conditions.

Choosing a Site

Moss thrives in shady, moist environments. When selecting a site, look for areas that meet the following criteria:

  • Shade – Moss prefers shade. North or east facing sites are ideal. Dappled shade under trees also works well.

  • Moisture – The area should have damp soil or receive constant moisture. Nearby water elements like ponds or fountains help maintain hydration levels.

  • Acidic soil – Moss grows best in acidic soil with a pH of 5-6.5. Use a soil test kit to check pH before planting.

  • Rocks or wood – Moss loves growing on rocky ground or wood surfaces. Incorporate large stones, pebbles, stepping stones or logs to give the moss anchor points.

If needed, create the right conditions by adding shade trees, irrigation or acidifying soil with sulfur.

Obtaining Moss

You can purchase moss starter kits online or at garden centers. These contain cultured clumps ideal for establishing moss patches. For larger areas, you may need several kits.

Alternatively, you can harvest moss from forests or other locations. Choose moss that naturally grows in shady, moist environments similar to your backyard. Carefully lift moss mats using a trowel. Avoid over-harvesting by only taking small samples from each location.

Planting or Transplanting Moss

Outdoors:

  • Loosen soil and remove weeds/debris from the planting area.

  • Lightly moisten soil. It should be damp but not overly wet.

  • Place moss mats against stones, logs or directly on soil. Press firmly to adhere.

  • Use a spray bottle to water moss until thoroughly soaked.

Indoors:

  • Add a 1-2 inch layer of acidic soil or sand to a planting tray. This will mimic moss’s preferred growing medium.

  • Place clumps or mats of moss in the tray about 1-2 inches apart. Press into soil.

  • Use a spray bottle to thoroughly hydrate moss. Cover with plastic to retain moisture while establishing.

  • Place tray in a shady spot indoors near a window for indirect light. Mist moss daily while it takes root.

Moss Care and Maintenance

  • Water moss frequently with a spray bottle to maintain constant moisture. Early morning waterings are ideal. In dry climates daily misting may be needed.

  • Remove fallen leaves and other debris to allow light to reach moss.

  • Watch for drying out or dying patches. Increase watering if moss shows signs of browning.

  • Use acidic fertilizer once a month during growing season to encourage growth. Follow fertilizer label directions.

  • Trim back or transplant moss if it becomes overgrown. Remove wayward strands creeping into lawns or gardens.

  • In winter, allow rain/snow to naturally water dormant moss. Resume regular watering in spring when moss regrows.

With proper conditions moss naturally spreads on its own over time. Be patient and allow healthy moss to slowly fill in areas. In optimal environments, moss can cover large spaces within just 1-2 growing seasons!

Creative Ways to Use Moss in Your Backyard

Beyond covering ground, there are many creative ways to incorporate moss into your outdoor living space:

  • Add moss carpets to woodland garden paths or between stepping stones

  • Allow moss to grow over boulders, statues, stumps or other focal points

  • Plant moss designs, letters or shapes using fragments in empty spaces

  • Fill hanging baskets or vertical gardens with mossy accents

  • Cover old logs or decaying tree stumps with a lush cloak of moss

  • Frame moss gardens with rocks or wood to create a lush, green nook

With a little creativity, moss can transform even urban backyards into magical, natural oases. Let this beginner’s guide inspire you get started with bringing moss into your outdoor space!