Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Moss Works

How to Grow Moss
No doubt about it -- moss is pretty, and it can be a great addition to your landscaping.
No doubt about it -- moss is pretty, and it can be a great addition to your landscaping.
Nacivet/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

When choosing plants for your landscaping, you probably reach first for grass, flowering plants, bushes and trees. But why not grab some moss? Moss can serve as an appealing green carpet in soil that's too acidic and shady to support grass. A garden is also a great place for moss, where it can act as a visual anchor beneath plants, stones or statues. Some moss lovers even claim that its verdant green color can actually promote relaxation and reduce stress. It's long been popular practice in Japan to make moss a part of landscaping.

If you already have moss in your yard, or know where to collect some (legally), you can try transplanting it where you want it to grow. Like grass, some mosses can simply be scraped up and replanted in a new location. You can either completely cover the desired area with the plant or space it apart and let it grow together. Another method is to shred a handful of green moss with one cup of buttermilk in a blender, then "paint" it on the soil, rocks or other surface where you hope it will spread. Just remember to clean the blender really well before you use it for smoothies again!

You can also buy moss, but there's a good chance they won't sell it at your local nursery. If you're having trouble finding it, try an online retailer like Moss Acres, which sells numerous varieties for lawns, gardens, roofs, walls and more.

Once you get some moss to grow, you have to care for it. Fallen leaves and twigs can stifle its growth, so use a leaf blower or shop vacuum to keep the surface clear. Avoid the urge to yank weeds or tree seedlings that emerge; you'll only hurt the moss. Instead, snip these unwanted intruders with a pair of garden shears. Moss should also be fed at least once a year -- in mid-spring -- with a mixture of 1 quart buttermilk to 2 gallons of water. And don't forget that moss always needs water. Misting the plant frequently, especially in warm weather, will not only keep it from turning brown, but will also encourage growth.

Now for the tricky part of this article: While we think moss makes a perfectly lovely green carpet for a yard, not everyone likes having moss around. In fact, some people actively try to kill it. More about that on the next page.