Go green with moss: part 2: last month, Ann Martin convinced you to make moss an eco-friend of your garden. Here, she tells you just how to get it growing.

Author:Martin, Ann
Position:Digging in

Creating your own moss garden is both fun and easy. You don't need to have a "green thumb" to grow great mosses. After all, you don't have to dig any holes or do much weeding, and moss thrives during all the seasons. So, what are you waiting for?

Planning Your Moss Garden

It's important to first assess the microenvironments present in your targeted garden space. A site consultation can help you determine these conditions and identify existing mosses. You'll want to be sure to use appropriate mosses for the various sun exposures and different substrates of your garden. You'll remember from last month that it's a myth that all mosses require shade. Many bryophytes in our region are tolerant of partial shade/sun. Believe it or not, we even have mosses that are direct sun lovers.

Acquiring Your Moss Plants

Choosing the right mosses for your garden is critical in creating a sustainable focal feature. Look on your own property first, and transplant existing mosses to your desired locations. Shade mosses are available for sale on the Internet. But, your best bet are local mosses, which are available through limited sources. No matter the source, make sure your moss supplier can certify that it has been "rescued" and not stolen from our forests, or purchase mosses propagated by a moss grower. This way, you'll be sure the native plant populations haven't been harmed. Native plant steward groups are established in many counties, and you can join in their efforts to rescue plants from high-impact areas.

Choosing When to Plant

Mosses have no flowers and consequently no seeds. But, they do reproduce through a two-step process. This sporophytic stage can occur during any season, even in the winter. Fall and winter's cooler conditions are actually favorable, but, again, mosses may be planted during any month. If choosing to plant in the warmer seasons of spring and summer, just make sure the moss is watered regularly on hot, dry days. [See the "Maintaining Your Moss Garden" section at right for more information about watering.]

Preparing Your Space

To begin, clear your garden space of any leaves or debris. Please note: If mulch has ever been used in the space, remove all mulch layers to the actual dirt. The general rule is that the soil's pH should range between 5.5 and 6.5. Your pH level can be determined through a soil test. The NC Cooperative Extension Service and the University of Georgia's Cooperative Extension Department provide soil testing...

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