In yesterday’s Columbian there was an article in the Home & Garden section by Joe Lamp’l about using moss as a lawn substitute.
At right is Polytrichum commune (Common Hair Moss or Haircap moss)—I think it looks like baby pine trees. :-)
I’m guessing most of you think this is the silliest thing you’ve ever heard of. But consider some things. Moss grows where there is:
- adequate rainfall
- poor drainage
- shady conditions
- acid soil
If you live in the PNW as I do, this likely describes at least part of your yard.
People around here whine constantly that there is moss in their lawn. I’ve probably said this a thousand times to clients, students and friends—”It’s easier to work with Mother Nature than against her. She will always win the war if not the battle.”
If you must have turf grass, at least locate it where the sun shines. In the places where the sun don’t shine (:-) and you have soggy, shady conditions, choose landscape options that will enable you to avoid the fights with Mother Nature.
In Joe’s article he points out that moss sequesters carbon dioxide just as does turf grass. It also filters impurities from the air and holds a great deal of moisture. It does all of this without requiring all the chemicals and fertilizer that turf grass does in order to keep it looking like most of us want it to look. And most moss is amazingly drought-tolerant. Yes, it goes dormant during drought periods just as does turf grass, but it generally comes back—just as does most turf grass.
Moss is an environmentally way to keep the yard green! Another way to keep the yard green is to plant clover, but that is another topic entirely.
The easiest way to get moss going is to just let it grow where it wants to grow, and go from there. Create a garden rather than a lawn in these places where most is growing.
If you want to learn more interesting ways to cultivate moss and have it work for you in your garden, check out George Shenk’s book Moss Gardening.