Tips & Tricks
Decorate Your Patio with Moss
Soft, evergreen, and tolerant of foot traffic, moss can introduce a lush and soothing element to your patio or garden room. Moss brings a sense of age and permanence to the surfaces on which it grows. You can plant moss between stones or pavers, let it grow on patio surfaces, or use it to decorate walls, stones, planters, and more.
Most varieties of moss prefer shade, and all require moisture to maintain a pleasing texture and appearance. A lack of moisture will cause moss to lose its color and resilience, but the moss usually will make a dramatic recovery once moisture is reintroduced. Moss prefers an acidic environment with a pH of 5.0 – 6.0 (5.5 is optimal).
Where to Find Moss
You may have moss already growing on your property. Look for moss near outdoor faucets, or under the drip line of your roof. Any moist and shady area of your yard may provide a source of homegrown moss. If not, ask your neighbors — they may be happy to supply you with moss (although you may get some strange looks). Of course, you should never remove moss from public or private property without permission.
Few nurseries regularly carry moss. You may wish to call your favorite nursery and find out if they do; if not, they may be able to special order it for you.
Local garden societies or online gardening forums can put you in touch with people who have moss they're willing to share.
Moss is remarkably easy to transplant. It uses rhyzoids, not roots, to anchor itself to the soil (or rock, brick or paver — mosses obtain all their nutrients from the air). You can use any handy garden tool or kitchen implement to peel up a patch or strip of moss, then transport it to its new location.
If you're not quite ready to introduce the moss to its new home, it will happily wait for a few days or longer — simply keep it moist until you're ready to plant it. You can store unplanted moss in a loosely-closed, plastic bag, plastic food container, or in a damp, shady area of your yard, garden, or patio.
Planting Moss Between Pavers
First, hand-pull any weeds that have sprouted between your patio pavers. Moss needs a firm surface on which to grow, so if you have sand between your pavers, you'll want to pack in some soil. (If you are transplanting your own moss, you can slice a chunk out of the ground and leave a bit of the existing soil attached.)
Water the surface of the growing area and the base of the moss. Press the moss firmly between the pavers — you can step directly on it, or cover it with a board to more evenly distribute your weight. Don't worry — you won't hurt the moss. It may look a little flat for a bit, but it will recover quickly. It's vitally important that the moss makes good contact with the suface below.
Water your newly planted moss throughly, and continue to water daily for the first three weeks. You can reduce the frequency of watering once your moss is established. If it starts to lose color or look dry, a good misting should make it perk it right up. Beyond that, your moss will be virtually maintenance-free.
Adding Moss to Surfaces
There are a couple of different techniques for applying moss to porous, non-glazed surfaces such as stones, bricks, and terra cotta pots. The quickest method is to smear the surface with mud, then press the moss against it — again, be firm! Keep horizontal surfaces watered, but not flooded — you don't want to wash your moss away. Keep moss on vertical surfaces moist with a mist from your garden hose, until the moss is well established.
A second method of propagating moss involves creating a moss "slurry", and then pouring or painting the slurry on to the surface you want to decorate. To make the slurry, crumble a cup or two of healthy moss into your blender, then add an equal amount of water and blend for a minute or two.
Some moss aficionados recommend using beer, buttermilk, or yogurt in place of or in addition to the water. This won't necessarily improve the growth of the moss, but it can make for a stickier mixture that will more readily adhere to surfaces.
Keep your moss-painted surface moist, but not so wet that the slurry gets washed away. This technique should produce healthy plants within about five weeks.
With moss, you can transform your outdoor hideaway into a cool, green oasis that will continue to improve with age.