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Forget grass, grow moss garden

Why a moss garden, you ask?

For some, this simply means letting your current mosses live and thrive, but there are quite a few reasons to embrace moss. In many cases, mosses are heartier than ornamental grasses and flowers. They won't contribute to your pollen allergies. It's truly a "green" garden -- you can stop using moss-killers and fertilizers that are harmful to the environment. And have you ever wandered through a forest after rainfall and admired the bright mossy beds catching the sunlight?

You can choose from many varieties for your garden -- yellows, greens, browns, even white mosses. Cushion mosses provide just what their name suggests, while rock cap mosses naturally offer a vibrant covering on any large rocks.

Some mosses can survive lengthy dry periods, recovering quickly once they get moisture again. Most mosses, however, require moisture and low sunlight to thrive. If your location already has moss growing, that's generally an encouraging sign. Once your moss garden is thriving, the only care it requires is some misting with water during dry spells.

The majority of mosses fare better in shade, or at least places where they don't face constant sun. Moderate sun is fine. In sunnier areas, plan your garden on the shady side of a large tree. If part of your desired location gets more sun, in those spots try to plant mosses that aren't as shade-dependent. Bryum mosses, found commonly on walls or in cracks along the sidewalk, tolerate direct sunlight better than most mosses. Grimmia moss is another variety to consider for patches of heavier sun exposure.

Many of you already have moss growing in your yard. Lucky you -- you can just cut a chunk of moss mat and transplant it where you want the moss garden. Moisten soil and moss mat before planting it in place. Make sure it rests at the same level as the surrounding ground. Most importantly, pack the soil tightly around and beneath it.

If your yard has no moss, or you want other varieties, visit local garden stores. No luck there? Don't lose hope -- look for mosses in your friends' yards and public property where moss growth is probably undesired (like pavement cracks). And keep in mind there are online businesses that are happy to ship moss to you.

In fact, you don't even need moss mats (good news when culling moss from a crack in the pavement). Though live moss mats are the best method for transplanting moss, you could also just pull up some moss with your hands, throw it into a blender with diluted buttermilk and spread this cocktail over the designated soil bed. In several weeks, you should start to see the moss growing.

Instead of fighting a losing battle to preserve the health of fragile, decorative flowers and grasses, consider the mossy alternative.

* For more info on this or explanations of how to do many other things, go to www.HowToDoThings.com.

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