How I Grow Moss in My Garden and Why You Should Consider it Too

Moss is the tiny superstar of the plant world that not only looks great but also plays an important number of roles.

Close-Up Of Moss Covered Rocks
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I live in Scotland, an oceanic climate zone, where moss grows naturally and is an abundant feature of the landscape. There are a number of different species growing on parts of my property and in the woodlands beyond my garden. 

I not only allow moss to thrive where it naturally grows in my garden, but I also encourage its spread. If you live in an environment where moss thrives, you might also consider doing the same. 

Why Grow Moss in a Garden?

Mosses are non-flowering plants that produce spores rather than seeds. They have stems and leaves but not true roots. Instead, they have tiny hair-like structures known as rhizoids. Some mosses suck up moisture and nutrients through these rhizoids, while others draw in water through their surfaces. 

Morning dew on the moss. Autumn
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Along with their cousins liverworts and hornworts, they are known as bryophytes. Tracing their origins back 450 million years, these plants have survived many drastic climatic changes and have spread to occur in a huge range of ecosystems on every continent. 

Different mosses can survive in many extreme environments. While we may tend to think of mosses as thriving in damp and humid conditions, there are also mosses capable of surviving in hot deserts and in intense cold. 

Mosses, due to their hardiness and intense resilience, play an important role in the development of new ecosystems. They are pioneers—among the first to colonize disturbed sites, such as after deforestation or forest fires, stabilizing the soil surface and retaining water, improving conditions so that other plants can grow. 

Moss Growing On Tree Stump
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Mosses impact soil temperature—warming it up and/or cooling it, depending on the environment and location. They can also retain water like a sponge and have an impact on the local humidity. 

Mosses boost biodiversity and help to support a range of insect life. Mosses also sequester carbon and help clean the air and tackle air pollution. With all of these amazing benefits, it is easy to see what we may wish to have moss around. 

As well as all of this, however, moss can also look great—giving a timeless and magical feel to your garden whether on the ground, on trees or wood, on rocks or stone or brick walls, or on a roof.

Growing Moss on the Ground

Mossy growth under trees in the shade in a moist environment looks lovely, ensuring that bare soil is covered and protected, and giving the area a fairytale feel. In the woods just beyond our garden, moss growing between the trees brings green lushness all through the winter months. 

Sometimes, moss pops up in lawns, and sadly, when it does, it is often considered to be a nuisance and something to get rid of. But moss can sometimes be a viable alternative to a lawn, where conditions are appropriate for its growth, and a mossy lawn can look lovely too. 

If you have moss growing on the ground somewhere in your garden and would like to grow more elsewhere, it is possible to carefully transplant small patches of moss with a little of the soil below them, to a new location. 

Close-up of a person standing in the forest holding a handful of moss, Russia
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Of course, you should be sure not to take too much, so as not to damage the existing moss. And if you wish to take a little moss from outside your own property, be sure to ask permission from the landowner and, again, make sure not to damage existing colonies too much. Alternatively, you may be able to purchase live moss to transplant from a reputable plant nursery. 

Prepare a new area for moss by creating a smooth surface on the soil and watering well. To transplant the moss, carefully remove a small section with the soil below it. Take this piece and carefully place it on the soil surface, pressing it down gently or treading on it to make sure it is in contact with the soil. It should eventually begin to grow slowly in its new location, as long as it is in a suitable location, similar to where it came from. 

Growing Moss on Rocks or Other Surfaces

Moss Covered Rocks At Riverbank
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What I like to do is encourage moss-covered rocks in shady spots. I love the way in which nature takes over, and the appearance that gives. 

When damp rocks are left in an appropriate location, you may not have to take steps to get moss to grow. It may colonize those rocks on its own. 

But you can also give nature a helping hand by blending a small quantity of moss from elsewhere in your garden with some natural yogurt and spreading this onto the damp rocks you want to become moss-covered. Wherever you spread the yogurt solution, moss should begin to grow within a matter of weeks. 

Whether you grow moss simply by letting it thrive where nature intended on your property or take active steps to spread it in your garden, moss is marvelous to have around.