Some plants have the audacity to sneak into our gardens and yards when they have not been invited. What about those peculiar plants that appear in our shady places where grass and/or plants have trouble growing?

I am speaking of mosses. Mosses are primitive plants in the Bryophyte division, which have no flowers or roots. Mosses thrive in humid, moist, shady spots. They get their drinks from absorbing through their leaves and stems because they have no roots.

Did you know there are people who actually want mosses in their yards? And more importantly, there are nurseries that produce and sell them? An article in Southern Living magazine encourages the use of moss gardens for their beauty and interest. Also, with several areas that are covered with moss in my yard, I have gotten the message that if you can’t beat them, join them. Therefore, I am looking at the spots of moss in my yard with a lot more pride and interest.

Mosses are attractive between cracks in rock walks and walls. They soften the effect by giving a rainforest look. They can help prevent erosion by growing in bare subsoil after your topsoil has washed down the hill. I can personally attest to this.

If you are having trouble growing grass in shady areas, let the moss grow. It is better adapted to shade, and it is green and pretty. Just get down low enough so you can put your bifocals on the moss and appreciate its beauty.

Ann Smith, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service


I have recently realized how fortunate I am to have so much moss in my yard. I used to think of it as an unhealthy yard. Now I find it is a wonderful alternative for areas that will not grow turfgrass. Its greenness adds a feeling of lushness and serenity. It usually has very hardy growth and prefers moist, shady locations. I have a shade garden, and the moss just adds to the mood of my yard.

Moss needs very little maintenance and is often found in rock gardens. I shave it off the ground and place it on the rocks around my fish pond. Within a year, it is part of the landscape, growing on its own.

Moss planted under any acid-loving shrubs will make a lovely green ground cover. Azalea seeds will drop onto it and sprout, and they can easily be harvested and placed in containers to grow into new plants.

Moss, live and green, can also be used as a liner in a wire basket, leaving the green side out. The soil on the moss holds the plants and looks quite nice for one growing season.

I realize that you must have a crop of moss to take advantage of these suggestions. Moss can usually be found in the woods, on little embankments, facing the north side.

Moss is great on top of planted containers. It conserves moisture and looks wonderful. My next project is to experiment on growing it on concrete figures in my garden. I see no reason why it wouldn’t work as it does on rocks.

Try it; you may have just found a new plant.

Donna Montgomery, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Posted in Shade Gardening