Moss lawns have been increasing in popularity throughout the United States. If you're considering one of these plants, you're most likely wondering what's good and bad about this lawn. We've done the research and can tell you some of the biggest benefits and disadvantages of moss lawns.
Some benefits of a moss lawn include:
- No need to mow
- No need to fertilize
- Can prevent weeds from growing
- Aids in the soil's moisture retention
- Grows in areas where grass doesn't
- It helps prevent soil erosion
The drawbacks of a moss lawn include:
- It doesn't grow well in sunny locations
- Grows in acidic soil
- Vulnerable to air pollution
- Requires consistent moisture—will require more water in sunny areas
- Must keep clean
Depending on where you live, a moss lawn may be cheaper and easier to maintain than a grass lawn. There are several factors that may work for or against you with this landscape feature. Keep reading to learn more about the potential pros and cons and more important information!
Moss Lawn Benefits
Having a moss lawn can provide a stunning green space for your home. These lawns have a number of benefits that can make them a better choice than grass.
If you've had a regular grass lawn, then you'll know that it requires frequent cutting. Mowing your grass keeps it at a reasonable length and helps your yard remain healthy.
With a moss lawn, you'll no longer need to worry about mowing. Your lawn's height will vary depending on the moss species you select. However, many species are relatively short. For instance, springy turf moss, a popular choice for moss lawns, has a mature height of six inches.
Continuing with the low-maintenance nature of moss, this plant doesn't require fertilizer to maintain its beautiful green hues. This is because mosses don't get their nutrients through roots within the soil. These plants absorb water and nutrients from the surrounding air.
Since moss doesn't get nutrients from the soil, there's little use in applying fertilizer. There are some fertilizers that you can apply directly to plants. However, you should also avoid these. Using a fertilizer with moss can cause your plant to die.
Moss is often used as a ground cover. This plant can keep weeds from growing because it grows in such a dense manner. It can keep weed seeds from reaching the soil. Also, it helps block sunlight, which is crucial to weed growth.
Keep in mind that weed prevention can vary depending on the type of moss you use. You may have to do some light weeding on smooth or thin mosses.
Soil Moisture Retention
While moss can absorb a lot of water, this plant also slowly releases it back into the soil. Water is essential to life. So, having soil that has good retention properties is very beneficial. Soil with good retention is able to supply water to plants even when there is more evaporation than rainfall in a given month.
Difficult To Grow Areas
Moss is an ideal plant to put in places where other types of flora have a hard time growing. These plants love acidic soil and shady conditions. You'd have a hard time growing grass in an area like that. However, moss will likely flourish there with little maintenance.
Minimizes Soil Erosion
Moss used in landscaping can also help prevent soil erosion. These plants are a part of a division of plants known as bryophytes. Bryophytes have a stringy outgrowth called rhizoids. These work to hold moss and other non-vascular plants to the area it grows.
Not only does it steady the plant but it can also provide stability to the earth.
Moss Lawn Drawbacks
Moss can be a hardy lawn option in areas where grass doesn't flourish. However, there are some potential downsides to having this in your yard.
Low Light Tolerance
Moss is an excellent choice if you have ample shade in your yard. But if you live in a sunnier location, then you will need to find moss that can tolerate the extra light. Many moss species need partial shade. In general, this means your plant needs less than two hours of direct sunlight each day.
Fortunately, several species of moss enjoy the sunlight. You'll have fewer options than if you had a shaded yard. Also, you may still have to ensure your moss has shade during the warmer hours of the day.
More Water In Sunny Areas
Some mosses can handle some occasional dryness. However, you'll need to keep the soil adequately moist for the most part. In warmer and sunnier locations, this will mean you need to use more water to keep the area wet enough.
If you have an appropriately shaded area, you won't need to worry about too much watering. Unfortunately, sunny regions may not be able to experience the water savings associated with a moss lawn.
Acidic soil can be challenging to deal with. It limits the available nutrients to the plants, and few florae are suitable for this soil. So, you'll be pretty limited on what other things you can plant.
If you need to adjust your soil, you can use sulfur to lower the pH balance. Keep in mind that this is a slow process. It can take between three and six months for pH levels to begin dropping. Any additional adjustments will take another six months with warm soil temperatures.
Air Pollution Problems
Many species of moss are also susceptible to damage from air pollution. One common pollutant is sulfur dioxide. A sensitive plant that comes in contact with this gas will begin to curl back or wither.
With consistent exposure, the moss can eventually die. Although, the damage does seem more severe with younger plants.
Must Clean Debris
It's important to keep your moss lawn clear of leaves and other debris. Some mosses will grow moldy if conifer needles are left on them. Too many deciduous leaves will smother a moss lawn. Try to remove these quickly to help prevent damage.
Can You Walk On A Moss Lawn?
Many people have come to the conclusion that moss lawns are too delicate to be walked on. Fortunately, this is not true! You can walk on your moss lawn if you want to. In fact, it's actually recommended for newly placed moss. The pressure helps the moss to attach to the soil.
However, this type of lawn can be prone to damage from pets or children. Moss can compress very easily but is prone to tears. An animal or child running on the moss would accidentally damage it.
Are Moss Lawns Expensive?
If you're buying moss, then your starting costs for this lawn will be more expensive. Other than this, moss lawns are inexpensive and low maintenance.
You will need to ensure the area is kept moist. However, unless you live in an arid region, you won't need to do much supplemental watering. So, you'll save lots of money on your water bill on top of the savings on fertilizer and mowing equipment.
What Can I Use Instead of Grass?
If you're looking for an alternative to the typical grass lawn, there are several options for you. One of the more popular choices is to use moss instead. However, you can also design a rock garden, use other ground covers, or switch to artificial turf. Another unique idea is to design a lawn out of succulents.
There are many different pros and cons to starting a moss lawn. They can help you save money and are incredibly low maintenance. However, they tend to prefer acidic soil and are better suited for shaded environments. So, you may need to look for species of moss that will definitely work for you!
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