Got Shade? Get Moss.

Once upon a time there was an area where nothing would grow. Not even vinca or pachysandra or lamium. Dark, damp, nutrient-starved from competition from the bulging roots of a giant oak tree. It’s the entrance to our back garden. And no matter what I planted there, only dirt and bits of crummy looking moss survived between the stepping stones. Last month I spotted an ad in the back of Garden Design magazine for an outfit called Moss Acres. Moss. Good-looking, fluffy moss. Moss used deliberately as a design element. That could be the answer.

It came in a box.

A box I ordered after I was satisfied by Moss Acres’ answer to my query, accompanied by a photo, about which moss would do best. Operations manager Heidi Masucci wrote: “I recommend sheet moss between pavers because it’s low-growing and can take foot traffic. But that may not be what you have in you mind’s eye, so try the sampler kit ($89), which has 10 square feet of sheet moss and one square foot of the other three varieties: Rock Cap (deep green, loves very deep shade), Cushion moss (silver green to green pin cushion type) and Hair Cap (will take more sun and can be as tall as three inches).”

It was fun to place the moss in the approximately  6 x 15′ area.

Out of that box came some cool looking plants.

And all they require is “…nothing more than shade, acidic soil, and adequate moisture to flourish… Moss also seems to prefer poor quality soils with low nutrient levels.” That’s just what we’ve got. I like the results so far, and am keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll never have to plant the area again.

About writedesigner

Graphic designer, writer, and gardener Ellen Shapiro is based in Irvington, New York. A frequent contributor to design blogs and magazines including Print, Imprint,, Communication Arts, and Etapes, she writes about trends, issues and personalities in design, illustration, photography, and visual culture around the world.
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