Monthly Archives: June 2012

Moss Man speaks–lawn bad, moss good–moss rocks

The most common question I receive about moss gardening is from people who have decided to give up on their grass lawn in shady areas where naturally occurring mosses have crept in. They ask, “How do I eliminate the remaining grass?”

After attempting to grow a lawn in shade, only to fail in producing a satisfying amount of coverage to fulfill the ideal, frustration leads to an alternative–moss. Converting a grass lawn to moss where traditional attempts of growing turf were used; annual seeding, adding lime, selective herbicides, and watering are one of the most difficult scenarios to work with.

The mosses move in forming verdant green islands and showcasing their evergreen appeal. The homeowner begins to realize Mother Nature may be revealing a better plant for this location. At this point, the homeowner is typically pleased. Even if they can’t grow the grass they hoped for, the fascination that moss wants to grow offers them salvation.

Soon the moss is anointed and all the efforts to coax the grass is removed from the homeowners list of chores. The moss however proves stubborn and seems unwilling to hold up to the occupation of its newly bequeathed territory.

Then the question comes, “How do I remove the existing grass and get the moss to take over?” My standard answer underwhelms as I explain that it’s best to remove the grass by hand and water regularly. This is then followed by a plea, “Isn’t there some kind of chemical that I can apply?”

Many of us have become accustomed to gardening and cultivating our landscapes with the help of sprays and chemical controls. It’s a hard habit to break, potions line up like soldiers at the local stores to do the job once held by our sweaty hands. We want and expect to have an easy remedy in the form of a spray to rid dandelions, crabgrass, nut sedge, broad leaf weeds, and even moss (ouch). Pulling grasses and digging with a weeding tool seems like an impossible task for large areas, but tackled systematically it is manageable, and the least disturbing method that capitalizes on any gains the mosses have made.

Here are a few suggestions to create a moss lawn and to deal with a grass to moss conversion.

1.   Where there is nothing–a clean slate

If you have an area where there is no vegetation, you are beginning with a clean slate. This is usually due to leaves and debris that have been allowed to cover the ground and prevent any plants from accessing the soil. The leaf litter can be removed and the area prepared soils for mosses.

You can also create a clean slate by applying a thick layer of leaf litter and allowing it to do the work of clearing any vegetation for you over several months. For a quicker approach, vegetation can be removed manually using a flat shovel.

Beginning with a clean slate is often the best way to promote a self-sustaining and weed resistant moss lawn.

After the area is prepared for moss,  locate and transplant from your surrounding area placing patches of colonies directly on the prepared soil. Fragmenting the colonies will increase the coverage but also the time needed for establishment. After installation be sure to water deeply and step on the mosses to ensure direct contact between the mosses and the soil.

Begin a structured watering regiment  and keep the area debris free. A pre-emergent such as Preen Vegetable Garden Weed Preventer can be used to prohibit weeds from geminating.

Alternatively you can follow these steps but not introduce mosses and allow airborne spores to develop into a selection of mosses that suit the conditions. In about 3 months you will begin to see what looks like a green coloring on the surface of the compacted soil. This is the early stage of moss growth and it will develop into a moss lawn in 12 to 24 months.

2.  Where there are equal amounts of weeds and moss–join Team Moss

Join team moss and say goodbye to team grass. Every advantage given your new team will help turn the tide from grass (and weeds) to moss.

Capitalize on established patches of moss, encouraging their domination by removing competition (grass, weeds and debris) and using appropriate  watering techniquesCarefully hand pull grasses and weeds, ensuring to get the roots.

If your weeds overwhelmingly outnumber the moss, place leaf litter or black plastic over the area. This will block sunlight and starve the vascular grasses and weeds. The mosses will tolerate this for a longer period of time than the grass and weeds, thus killing the unwanted growth while maintaining most of the moss.  Check the progress every couple of weeks until the vascular plants have died.

3.  Temporarily remove and store the moss–divide and conquer

Create a clean slate by temporarily removing the mosses. Think of it as taking your new moss buddies for a vacation while you do some spring cleaning. Collect all the mosses and store them off to the side for a couple of weeks.

Larger patches can be collected as a whole and sparsely covered areas raked out. Set the mosses aside in a shady location, laying out the patches and piling up the loose bits that were raked in a shady location. You should water the stored mosses daily and they will keep this way for a couple of weeks, if needed.

4.  Apply herbicides—give in to temptation

If your volunteering mosses are  pleurocarps, applying herbicides has fair odds of working.  If they are acrocarps it is not advisable. On a dry warm sunny day, lightly mist the mosses with water, do this slowly on one area then another and repeat. Give the mosses time to absorb as much water as possible. Then allow the leaves of the grasses and weeds to air dry. The mosses will retain the moisture but the waxy leaves of the weeds and grasses will not. Apply a rainproof glyphosate, carefully aiming for the intended targets but avoiding a heavy application. A half strength mixture may even be enough to kill most invaders and reduce moss damage.

After the required drying time for the glyphosate, water the mosses again. After any damage to the mosses has healed, you can repeat the application. By watering the mosses and fully hydrating their cells before applying the glyphosate, the absorption rate is minimized. Watering afterwards will help further dilute any remaining chemicals.

Even though the herbicides may be easier, don’t try to accomplish this too quickly or in one application. It is also wise to test this technique on a small area first to check for success.

Let’s hope more of us change our perspective and go from saying, “There’s moss growing in my grass” to “There’s grass growing in my moss!”

 

David Spain aka Moss Rock

 

Order your Moss Rocks!  online today.  Moss is grand.  Moss is green.  Moss is good. Make the most of it; order Moss Rocks! today.

By: David Spain

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Follow Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks! on Twitter @Moss_Rocks and our Facebook Like page Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!

To learn more about Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!, please visit our website.  Or email David Spain at info@mossandstonegardens.com.

Unless otherwise noted, all photo are credited to Ken Gergle.

When and how-to water moss

Pre-script:  Over the last month, Moss and Stone Gardens Moss and Stone Gardens; has been sharing information about moss–understanding growth rates, preparing soils, how-to collect mosses, and this post about watering moss.  This series are actually steps in the process of creating a moss lawn. Each step leads up to presenting a thorough understanding for our ultimate goal of writing a how-to on creating a moss lawn.

The first step was Understanding Growth Rates.

The second step was Preparing Soils for Moss

The third step was How to Collect Moss.

WHEN AND HOW-TO WATER MOSS

Transplanted mosses to a new location need a period of time for the moss to acclimate and become established.

Acclimation is the process of the moss adjusting to the new location’s elements such as altitude, sunlight, water, wind, as well as the substrate the moss will be growing on.

Each of these will effect different mosses to greater or lesser degrees depending on the species, their growth rate and habit, which may increase or decrease depending on those changes.

Establishment occurs after acclimation to environmental differences and when new rhizomes have re-attached the colony to it’s new substrate.

To help with the establishment, the wisdom is to provide water frequently after the transplant, but how often and for how long is the question. This will be different depending on the the type of moss being transplanted. An acrocarp has different requirements than a pleurocarp.

ACROCARPS

Acrocarpous mosses are slower growing and will not tolerate constant moisture for periods longer than 2 or 3 months, if moisture persists they will begin to rot and eventually fail. They can benefit from a rainy season or regular irrigation once a year, but after that they will need regular dry spells.

If you are unsure whether your moss is an acrocarp, monitor its condition carefully. Look for signs of the moss turning dark and if there is a reduction in height. These signs will indicate that it’s getting too much water, and a break from frequent moisture is needed.

Below is a helpful watering chart for establishing acrocarps.

Months 1 and 2–-water daily for up to two months to promote growth.

Month 3–-water every three days for one month.

Month 4–-water once a week for one month.

Month 5–-water twice a month then until the area is fully covered in moss.

After that, water only when rain has been absent for three weeks or more.

PLEUROCARPS

Pleurocarpous mosses can be watered daily, and even up to 6 times a day in small volumes. This consistent moisture will keep pleurocarps growing year round, if the conditions are right.

The caveat for a frequent watering schedule is to be careful and not create the conditions for problems to form. Too much volume can create soggy conditions that may cause root rot for other plants. Be sure the delivery and timing of the water moistens the moss but does not soak the soil.

Molds, mildews and fungus can also cause problems for Pleurocarps.  When temperatures rise above 75 degrees, constant moisture can cause the development of molds, mildews or fungus. These may grow on the bare soils surrounding the mosses or directly on the moss itself. If any of these problems occur, allow the area to dry out completely and resume with a lower volume application of water.

After pleurocarpous mosses have filled in, and have become a thick and lush growth, watering can be reduced over time and allow rain to provide for the moss’s watering needs. If you are in an area with low rainfall levels, you may need to supplement during drought. Avoid creating a wet then dry cycle multiple times a day. The effect of drying out several times a day can produce a net loss in energy production.

HOW TO WATER MOSS

Watering using a hose and fine spray head is the most economical and accurate method for irrigation. Irrigation systems can also be used if they have the proper fine spray heads and are allowed to be scheduled. This usually requires a dedicated zone and programming. Hose end sprinklers are another possibility and can even be operated by a battery powered programable timer that attaches directly to the spigot.

If your water supply is from a well or a municipal system, you may want to have your water tested for chloramine or sulfur. High levels of each can have a negative impact on moss growth. You can also just water over a two month period to see if there is any negative effects. Using collected rain water will provide the best results over any other water source.

Since mosses must have sunlight in order to metabolize, the best time of day to water is early in the morning. Avoid watering your mosses close to dusk, so that they have time to accumulate net gains in their energy production.

Our next post will pull all this information together to learn how to Create a Moss Lawn.

 

 

Order your Moss Rocks!  online today.  Moss is grand.  Moss is green.  Moss is good. Make the most of it; order Moss Rocks! today.

By: Helen Yoest

Follow Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks! on Twitter @Moss_Rocks and our Facebook Like page Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!

To learn more about Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!, please visit our website.  Or email David Spain at info@mossandstonegardens.com.

Unless otherwise noted, all photo are credited to Ken Gergle.

Fun Faerie Facts


Faeries are famous for being known as fickle. It’s the price they pay for being beautiful or at least that’s the general assumption among the humans.  They are indeed beautiful. But to a Faerie, they are not fickle; rather, they are fiery, flirty, and fashionably adorable.

Because Faeries are so often misunderstood, they felt it was important to teach humans some fun Faerie facts. Needing a human to speak on their behalf, they turned to me. I was flattered, of course, and honored at the same time. As it was explained to me, I was the perfect choice since there are so few of us who fully understand Faeries. It takes someone who regularly communicates with Faeries to know how they live, and since they make their home at the Moss and Stone Gardens’ Moss Farm , we’ve had plenty of time understanding each other.

So let’s spread some Faerie wing and learn a few things about being a Faerie.

    • The lifespan of a Faerie is one-thousand years.
    • Faeries are monogamous; they mate with the same male, but prefer living with the girls. The males don’t like this arrangement, but they have no say. Faeries dominate.
    • A male “Faerie” is called a Folly.
    • Little is known about Follies since they are mute and have no other way to communicate. Faeries prefer it this way.
    • At one time Follies could communicate, but over two millenniums, the Faeries selected out the vocal males until they were left only with a non-speaking species.
    • Faeries are fiercely independent.
    • Faerie babies, also known as wee Faeries, are born in the dew of the fern. The mama Faerie is able to delay birth until conditions are just right.
    • Each Faerie has a litter of about four wee Faeries, and can reproduce four times a year for about forty years.
    • It takes 140 years for a Faerie to reach puberty; 14 years before they can walk.
    • All Faeries prefer flying over walking.
    • Faeries wing span is 1 inch.
    • Faeries weigh a little less than the weight of a  postage stamp.
    • Faeries are vegan.
    • They live in Faerie houses, and sleep on beds of moss.
    • Though they can confuse one with their words, fairies cannot lie. They hate being told thank you, as they see it as a sign of one forgetting the good deed done, and, instead want something that will guarantee remembrance.
    • To attract Faeries to your garden you must allow moss to grow somewhere.
    • You must have permission from a faerie before their image can be captured with a camera.
    • Faeries think pallet gardens are over-rated.

Stay tuned to Moss and Stone Gardens. Since the Faeries now call The Moss Farm home and feel comfortable here, they have decided to share some tales about their tiny lives. Those tales will be shared over the next few weeks. ~David Spain

David Spain, a.k.a Moss Rock

 

Order your Moss Rocks!  online today.  Moss is grand.  Moss is green.  Moss is good. Make the most of it; order Moss Rocks! today.

By: Helen Yoest

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Follow Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks! on Twitter @Moss_Rocks and our Facebook Like page Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!

To learn more about Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!, please visit our website.  Or email David Spain at info@mossandstonegardens.com.

Unless otherwise noted, all photo are credited to Ken Gergle.

Understanding the growth rate of pleurocarps versus acrocarps

 

Pleurocarp habit

 

Anyone who has tried to start a moss lawn knows mosses are slow growing. Most people understand this, but many don’t understand why or just how slow is slow.

Mosses are very primitive plants without a higher evolved vascular system. They are limited to energy production by three factors: moisture, sunlight, and temperatures above 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If these three conditions are met, photosynthesis will produce the energy needed for growth. The energy produced is consumed but not stored for future growth. The only reserves that mosses have is a protein that allows for the repair of any cellular damage that may occur during desiccation. Upon hydration, the stored protein can repair the cell wall so that photosynthesis is again possible.

Mosses differ from vascular plants in that vascular ones may produce or consume energy under any number of different conditions–beyond the three factors limiting moss growth. Unlike mosses, vascular plants can store energy in their tissues, and continue to extract moisture and nutrients through their roots at night. You can water your wilted tomato plants after the sun has set and still have the benefit of that water perking her up. Mosses do not have this benefit; instead they have a simple on/off switch that allows their metabolism to produce and consume energy. If they are not producing or consuming energy, they become dormant.

While having the ability to be dormant or active within such a short period of time is an advantage, the disadvantage is not being able to extend your active period beyond the three strict factors. (We can, of course, provide the moisture if the other two factors are present and allow for growth. Learn about this in the next post.)

To obtain maximum growth from your moss, it should be moist as long as the sun is shining and the temperature is close to or above freezing, but, as always, we mustn’t generalize too much about such a large group of plants.

Now that we understand what it takes for mosses to grow, it is important to know about the different potential growth rates between the two types of mosses: pleurocarpous and acrocarpous. In general, pleurocarps can tolerate constant moisture, some even submerged, while most acrocarps must periodically dry out to prevent rotting.

Many carpeting pleurocarp mosses can be watered several times a day year-round, promoting growth that is on par with most evergreens. Their ever-branching and creeping horizontal habit will keep them expanding over new territory indefinitely. Under ideal conditions it is possible for the pleurocarps to double their size in 6 months.

Acrocarp habit

Acrocarps, however, cannot be accelerated past a certain point.  They are limited by their need to periodically dry out and their upright growth habit. You are more likely to have acrocarps spread over an area by their spores or fragments before the colony enlarges enough to double in size. Spores and broken leaf tips usually take 2 years under ideal circumstances to mature enough to be considered as “a carpet of moss.”

So there you have it, mosses take their sweet ole time to fill in. We can however give them a helping hand and significantly increase their growth rate and our goal of creating a moss garden by ensuring that the combination of their needs are met.

By: David Spain

 

Order your Moss Rocks!  online today.  Moss is grand.  Moss is green.  Moss is good. Make the most of it; order Moss Rocks! today.

masg_logo1.jpg

Follow Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks! on Twitter @Moss_Rocks and our Facebook Like page Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!

To learn more about Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!, please visit our website.  Or email David Spain at info@mossandstonegardens.com.

Photo credited to David Spain.