Mossthe new trend in lawn cover

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 7, 2012

Have you been trying to rid your lawn of moss that invades your shady areas and competes successfully with your grass?
It’s time to stop!
Moss is the new “in” groundcover, finally being recognized for its virtues. It’s green, never needs mowing, tolerates foot traffic and thrives in shade — what’s not to like about it?
Moss gardener Sheliah Lombardo spoke at the October meeting of the Rowan County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Association and sang the praises of this convenient, insect- and disease-free lawn plant.
Although 400 species of moss grow in the Southeast, the homeowner should focus on those that grow naturally in local yards. You may transplant moss in clumps or plugs (be sure to have permission if you are not transplanting from your own property) onto bare ground and water them in. Mosses lack true roots and absorb water from rain, mist and dew. Lacking water, they dry up and go dormant. With the return of water, they spring back to life.
Moss requires less maintenance than grass. According to an American Horticultural Society pamphlet, “Moss Gardening,” moss prefers acidic soil and needs no fertilizer or sprays for disease or insects. However, you should keep it free of fallen leaves and other debris. Sometimes other small plants may compete with moss and can be weeded out. I, for one, like diversity in my moss and usually opt for peaceful coexistence.
Another benefit of growing moss (or permitting it to grow in your lawn) is that it provides nesting material for bluebirds.
Now that moss has become a respectable (perhaps even trendy) lawn plant, you can give up trying to get grass to grow in those troublesome shady areas — just enjoy the moss!

Bethany Sinnott is a master gardener volunteer with Cooperative Extension in Rowan County.