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Nature's Carpet for the Garden
Published: 02/13/2014
Moss and Stone Gardens
Moss and Stone Gardens
photo by David Spain
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Using moss in coastal gardens takes a cue from nature.

Mosses, the oldest living terrestrial plants on earth, carpet the nooks and crannies of the Pacific Northwest. Its lush growth can be found in abundance in Oregon's coastal forests and sometimes in our gardens.

Many gardeners consider moss an invasive plant. Another school of thought finds these simple plants add an element of tranquil beauty to the garden. Who hasn't wandered a forest trail, marveling at the velvety green blanket on rocks and logs? That same beauty can be incorporated in almost any coastal garden.

Lacking roots and obtaining nutrients from only rainfall and sunlight, mosses can grow on any hard surface, and are often seen on tree bark, rocks and other solid areas. As a result, mosses are ideal for adding a luscious green look to any garden or as a sustainable alternative for grass.

Re-imagine the lawn. Political leanings aside, traditional lawns need chemicals to thrive, consume a lot of water, require a lot of care and sometimes just aren't the right fit. Moss growing in turf grass is often thought of as a lawn pest, but that is not the case. Moss grows in sites where grass has difficulty growing. Rather than using lots of chemicals to kill the moss already growing there, consider increasing your garden's biodiversity and letting Mother Nature take her course. Moss is an excellent, low-maintenance ground cover; requiring no mowing, thatching or fertilizing.

Mosses by their very nature, have the ability to accent many garden styles. They combine wonderfully with ferns and evergreen ground covers in the shady garden. Using moss in your garden landscaping between paving stones on walkways and patios creates a sense of permanence and tranquility. On stone fountains, ornaments and boulders these heroic little plants give any garden an ancient appeal.

Utilizing moss in your landscape will require an initial time investment and a little patience. It may take several growing seasons for a moss lawn to fully fill in, or for garden objects to be blanketed in green. With cultivation and care, moss will enhance and enrich your coastal garden with many years of beautiful rewards. - By Ingrid Mueller

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