How to handle moss in your yard
The right plant in the right place is the definition of a well-planned landscape one in which plants, like moss, can thrive under the best growing conditions, combining light, moisture and soil.
Perhaps it was this notion of working with the conditions in the yard instead of against them that has given rise to the use of moss as a ground cover and textural accent. Recent increased availability of plants, in emerald greens and subtle browns, has fueled gardeners’ interest. With a steady devotion to native plants, landscape architects and garden designers have also heightened the appeal and romance of moss installations.
Who works in moss?
So who actually works in moss? In Atlanta, Michael Lores does. As the owner of the highly rated Michaelangelo’s Sustainable Landscape and Design, he has completed several projects with moss clumps. “I’ve used it in woodland settings, on boulders — one client wanted Irish moss planted between the pavers on a shady flagstone patio,” he says, noting that moss will only be successful if the conditions — shade with moist, compacted clay — are right. “You see moss where people don’t want it, but sometimes I advise clients to work with it. It could save them a lot of money down the road.”
Even with increased popularity, sourcing mosses can take a little work. These primitive little rootless plants are not abundant in the general nursery trade. That’s why the websites of specialty growers like Moss Acres in Honesdale, Pa., have been discovered by home gardeners, landscape designers and terrarium hobbyists.From a handful of plants to moss by the square foot, Moss Acres operations manager Heidi Masucci says there isn’t an average size order or an average customer. “There’s a landscape architect creating a Japanese garden and an apartment dweller who grows a small planter on a balcony and all types of people in between,” she says. “Woodland gardens are popular for moss and there’s big interest in growing moss on walls and roofs.”
Removing moss from lawn
On the other hand, if you don’t want to grow moss, Jacob Dunaway offers some tips to get rid of moss. His A-rated company, Native Design & Restoration Landscapes in Knoxville, Tenn., has removed it from a number of lawns, which can be a multi-step process. “Typically, we need to bring in sunlight, which involves tree trimming,” he says. “Then we rejuvenate the soil. We have to change the growing conditions to eliminate moss and the algae that often persists with it.”
Removing moss from home
If you want your homestead to look like moss has never been there, calling someone like Natalie Cespedes can help. She manages A-rated Superior Powerwashing in Apex, N.C., with her brother, Mark. They see a lot of moss, mold and mildew in their area because of the humidity. “We use a low pressure washing method with a special cleaner,” she says. “You can’t get rid of it just by blasting it with water. On cement, we use a round surface cleaner that scrubs in a circular motion and the pavement looks like new. When we’re done, we kill 100 percent of the moss and mildew.”
Ellen Goff is a freelance horticulture writer and photographer who’s passionate about plants, water quality and the environment. She also stays busy with her own landscape and its inhabitants along the shores of Lake Wylie, S.C.
Angie’s List® | January 2013