Want to grow moss in your yard? Here’s how my dad grew a full moss lawn & path!
I was recently in North Carolina visiting my parents and I was reminded that they have a full moss lawn.
It actually used to be grass, but over a decade ago my dad gave up trying to grow grass where it doesn’t want to be and instead decided to focus on growing a mossy lawn.
I thought that this was a really unique solution for a common problem (I know that a lot of y’all have trouble growing grass!) and thought that it would be fun to share some details about this low-maintenance ground cover.
If you have alkaline soil (like clay), full shade, and poor drainage, a moss lawn could be the perfect choice for low-maintenance lawn alternatives.
If you don’t want a full moss lawn, moss gardens can be perfect for particularly shady or wet areas of the yard.
How to grow moss in your yard
Moss lawn pros and cons
Moss lawn pros
There are a lot of benefits to a green mossy yard! Here are some of my favorites:
- If moss naturally wants to grow in your area, it can be a maintenance-free lawn covering
- If grass won’t grow in your yard because it is too wet or has shady areas, moss might be a solution
- No fertilizer or annual grass seed needed
- Don’t need to water regularly – great if your area has water shortages
- Lush green color looks like short grass ground cover (from afar) year round
- No mowing – low maintenance
- No weeds!
- Feels like walking on a velvet carpet
- Unique look – pairs really well with rock gardens
Moss lawn cons
There are some aspects of a moss lawn that might be a problem for you. They include:
- It’s not a grassy lawn
- It can get kind of muddy, especially during rainy times
- It can be a lot of work to get it to grow if it doesn’t grow naturally
- Won’t grow in an area with too much sun
- Your HOA may not allow it
- Can get torn up by pets and takes a couple of weeks to recover
- Moss is not the “normal” lawn covering and therefore might be seen as weird or strange by some people
The cons of moss may or may not be deal breakers for you!
How to grow a moss lawn
The most important thing for growing moss in your yard is having the right conditions.
- Acidic soil
These are the ideal conditions for a moss lawn to grow in.
If you don’t have all of these conditions, you can still grow moss, but you are going to have to work harder at it.
The reason that my dad went for a moss lawn is because it is what naturally wanted to grow in his yard. Grass just wasn’t working!
How to grow moss in your yard
Love the look of a moss lawn? Here's what you need to do to grow moss in your yard.
- Moss starter
- Rake or blower
- Pick an area with the right conditions. It needs to be humid or moist and also shaded.
- Clear the ground surface of all leaves, plants, and debris.
- If moss naturally grows in this spot - keep the area clear and moss should begin to spread in 6 weeks.
- If moss does not naturally grow in this spot - transplant moss. You can either dig up moss from another location or mix moss in a blender and spread across the area.
- As the moss grows, you will need to continue blowing off the leaves and pulling any weeds that grow where you want the moss to grow.
How do you transplant moss?
Transplanting moss is very easy and actually very similar to transplanting grass.
- Find moss that you want to relocate.
- Gently pick the moss off the surface it is attached to. You might want to use a shovel.
- Prepare the surface where you want the moss to go. It should be moist and clear of debris.
- Place the moss on the new surface. Gently press it into the surface.
- Keep moist and clear of debris.
You can also purchase sheet moss, but expect it to be twice as expensive as sod!
What is a “moss milkshake”?
If you can’t get transplanted moss to take as a ground cover, you can try making a moss milkshake or a moss slurry.
To make a moss milkshake, simply blend in a blender:
- a handful of moss
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup buttermilk
You can spread this mixture on a tree, rock, statue, pot, path, any surface, really. Keep moist to promote growth while your moss spreads.
How to grow a moss path
My dad has grown an epic moss path throughout their backyard.
To grow the moss path, he started by creating a stone border outlining the path shape.
Then, he cleared inside the boarder so the whole path was free of debris. Piling leaves or debris on either side of the path keeps moss from growing there.
Then, he just followed the above steps of keeping the path moist and clear of debris to encourage moss growth. It didn’t take a long time to take over!
You have to be consistent in clearing off any leaves, especially in a wooded area like his yard.
You will need at least partial shade for this method to work – full sun will kill moss.
Can you walk on a moss lawn?
The moss is actually very soft and comfortable to walk on. It feels velvety. It can get a bit soggy after rain, but so can any ground covering.
How fast does moss grow?
A moss bed should start growing about 6 weeks after transplant.
I would allow several months to get good coverage.
After that, you don’t need to do typical lawn care like mowing, but you will want to keep it clear of leaves and debris that could smoother the moss.
Is moss better than grass?
If your conditions are suited to moss, meaning that you have the right light, moisture, and soil, having a moss lawn will save you lots of time.
Moss does not require maintenance like grass does!
It also does not needed to be mowed, seeded, or aerated each year.
Once you have your moss lawn going, it is virtually maintenance free!
Is moss slippery?
No, moss itself is not slippery.
However, moss often grows in damp environments. These areas might also have algae or mud that is slippery.
So while moss is not slippery, it might be indicative that the area around it IS slippery!
How do I kill moss?
Decide that you no longer want a moss lawn?
Mix 4 cups of vinegar, a 1/4 cup of salt and 2 tsp. dish soap in a spray bottle. Apply to the moss. It should die and dead moss can be raked away!
The best type of soil for moss
Moss prefers tightly packed alkaline soil. My dad’s yard is almost completely orange North Carolina clay. Clay has an alkaline soil PH. It retains moisture really well, creating a lot of moist areas.
We’ve shared a lot about grass in the past:
Do you have any questions for my dad about his moss lawn?
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Thursday 11th of March 2021
Thank you for this informative article. I have a, size of a basketball court, area that I'm try to grow a Moss Garden. Right now it iw a "wanna be" moss garden. I am somewhat overwhelmed. I need to do the Moss Milkshake. About how much would one Milkshake cover? I would love to attend a whole seminar about the whole story of moss should there ever be one in the good old USA.
Friday 16th of October 2020
Dear Dad, I already have a nice crop of moss growing in the shady area of my lawn. I have painstakingly weeded out the grasses, creeping charlie, and dandelions. Here are my three dilemmas: My moss is a very short, dense moss that always looked trampled and unhealthy; do I have the wrong kind? Second, no matter how much I take care of it, the bare patches have never filled in. And third, the squirrels are ruthless in their digging! Can you help me?
Thursday 10th of September 2020
Hi there, Thank you so much for this! I I'm so excited to try this out. For the moss milk shake how much moss do you need to blend with the water and buttermilk? Do you recommend any store bought acidic soils or plant food? Have you ever worked with Irish moss seeds? And again thank you this is just what I needed!!
Moss Milkshake – House Design
Thursday 21st of May 2020
[…] Download Image More @ www.charlestoncrafted.com […]
Monday 6th of April 2020
I can't thank you enough! I live, literally in a forest in the mountains. I have a great deal of moss but mostly bare damp ground. I haven't been keeping the leaves off. THAT did not occur to me. I have a large area so the moss milkshake sounds like a less labor intensive way to spread the stuff that I literally adore. So much more magical than grass!
Monday 6th of April 2020
Hope it works out well for you!