Advice about Moss Gardens

Moss Acres

TheGardenLady received this question from Bob on her post “Create a Moss Garden”.

Any suggestions for keeping weeds out and killing the new ones? Will broad leaf weed killers harm moss? Any feed suggestions other than buttermilk?

One of the best resources for technical support on raising moss is Moss Acres. Their website is this. It’s one of the best sites this GardenLady knows about for buying moss and learning how to raise moss. I contacted Moss Acres with these questions.

First one should check the pH of the location where you want to have your moss garden.  For success the pH  should be between 5.0  or lower and  6.0  Any higher a pH number and you are asking for trouble.

Buttermilk helps but if the soil doesn’t have the proper pH, the soil for the moss can easily be amended with liquid sulfur or aluminum sulfate that is sold by Moss Acres to lower the pH to the desired range.

Moss Acres tells you to get rid of weeds BEFORE the weeds set seed. If the weeds you want to pull are tall you can carefully use a weed whacker.  See here. Just be careful to  whack only the weeds, not the moss.

Early in the year you can try using Preen vegetable garden organic preemergent weed killer. Once the weeds emerge it is too late to use Preen.

If weeds do come up, it is recommended that you pull them out with tweezers when they are small- before they set seed. Hold the moss around the weed so that you don’t pull moss with the weed.

You can try using a broad leaf  weed killer like Weed be Gone or Round Up, but experiment first by using the weed killer on a small spot to see if it works or if it will hurt the moss. TheGardenLady is against using weed killer whenever possible because of the chemicals that are worrisome. For example, Denmark bans the use of Round up.

If you are really interested in moss gardens, Moss Acres has just started giving workshops on how to do one. They had their first workshop in May and have two other workshops planned. The workshops will be for all levels from beginners to landscaper professionals.

Moss Acres sells moss to gardens all over the US and Canada. They will also answer any moss questions even in areas where they don’t sell moss. They will answer questions even if you don’t live in the US. Readers from anywhere in the world can contact them for advice.

Is There A Weed Killer That Does Not Kill Moss?

 moss garden by akaitori (on flickr)
moss garden by akaitori (on flickr)

TheGardenLady received this question from Claudia:

Every weed killer that I have located includes moss as a weed so it kills the moss too. Is there a weed killer that does not kill moss?

In one public garden with moss that I visited, I asked this very question. They said they got down in the moss and carefully plucked out all the weeds by hand using some type of tweezers. Moss has no roots. So if you pull some up just push it back in the spot it came from.

Moss loves acid soil- a ph of 5 to 6 is what mosses prefer. Weeds tend not to like soil with such a high acid content. So when the moss is in its preferred environment then it grows vigorously enough that weeds won’t be a problem. In fact you might be surprised that acid loving native plants take root in the soil even if you hadn’t planted them. They come into the moss environment like weeds. You can try adding wettable sulphur to the areas where the moss is weedy – add 1/2 the amount that is on the bag directions and put it in a small, test area to test if it works.

If you have weeds that you can’t hand pull try spotting the weeds with ” Weed Be Gone” or ” Round up”. Use these products in a small test area first to see if it doesn’t burn the moss. Then if it doesn’t burn the moss, you can use these products in other areas.

One of the best places to buy moss and moss products like the wettable sulphur is from Moss Acres. Moss Acres offers a wide range of soil amendment products to lower pH. They also will answer moss questions.

The owner of this company, David Benner, has the loveliest moss garden that is open to the public for a few days every May. Try to visit this garden and ask the tour guide, either David or his son, moss questions.