A lot of people spend an inordinate amount of time and $$ trying to keep moss from growing into their lawn … I do not. While appreciating settings where a golf-course type weed-free lawn, perfectly edged along well manicured woods, is the epitome of style … this simply does not work in my yard. Here I strive for a more subtle, tranquil progression between manicured and natural areas. So rather than fight moss, I encourage it to take over where grass chooses not to grow – which has proven to be a most environmentally friendly way to ‘green’ my yard.
As I sit at my computer on this chilly, late February day, I can glance out at a currently unattractive lawn still holding onto tidbits of snow and ice, and not yet sending up new green blades … or I can focus beyond the brown sod to the areas where lawn meets woods. Local mosses cover large expanses of ground that, had I chosen to not only purchase, but plant and nurture more “cultivated” greens, would have required both greater attention and greater resources during busy growing periods. Instead, I opted to help existing, native mosses highlight these spots. So instead of seeing only the dead, tan blades of last year’s grass, my eyes are drawn to the many patches of chartreuse and light green and reddish mosses … all aglow in the late winter sun.
As warmer air moves in, these mosses bloom into spectacularly vibrant colors of yellow-green and mahogany red, that accents the edges of my greening lawn grass.
Encouraging these natural beauties takes minimal time. Simply keep autumn leaves from matting down on the mosses, rake lightly in spring to clear off debris such as sticks and acorns, and occasionally pull any wayward weeds seeking to establish their presence in the ever spreading carpet. And if there’s no time to pull, weeds can be carefully controlled with a push mower while cutting nearby lawn grass – taking heed not to dig the mower wheels into the moss when turning, as these shallow-rooted plants are easily disturbed. If you divot some moss, just press it back in place and give it a quick drink. Otherwise, no fertilizer, no pruning, no thinning; mosses are about the easiest care plants around.
In addition to the lawn edges, I allow mosses to rule the sheltered ground under copper beech, along the bases of stone walls, and between stepping stones denoting a shady path. “Letting” mosses reign frees my time for other gardening pursuits, and keeps my little patch of earth anchored to its woodland surroundings … all without costing me a dime.