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Does Moss Make a Good Groundcover?

By: Jessie Keith

“Even though moss dries out in summers, will it make a good ground cover for dirt that is largely dark clay?” Question from Susan of Junction City, Oregon

Answer: If you live in an area with consistent moisture and lots of shade, then it can make a good ground cover, though we recommend amending any clay soils first. There are lots of different moss species that are sold by specialty moss nurseries, or mosseries. (Moss Acres is one and Mountain Moss is another.) Most mosses grow best in moist, fertile soil that holds water well and is more acidic (pH 5.0 to 6.0), though some mosses will tolerate some sunshine. (Click here for a list of shade-loving mosses and click here for sun-tolerant moss options.)

Steps for Growing Garden Moss

Here are five steps to getting moss to grow in your yard or garden.

  1. Work up shaded lawn or garden areas that are bare.
  2. Apply fertile amendments, such as Black Gold Natural & Organic Garden Compost Blend or Black Gold Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss, into at least the top three inches of soil.
  3. Apply moss as sheets or fragments purchased from a quality mossery. Make sure that they are the right species for your area.
  4. Water in the new moss and keep it moist. Follow the care steps as provided by the mossery.
  5. Keep your moss moist during the hottest, driest times in summer.

It’s that simple! If you like the look of mossy rocks, you can even apply moss starts to rocks to get that lush, green, mossy look.

Happy gardening!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

About Jessie Keith


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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