Marvellous Moss

Moss in the forest garden.

Mosses are very common in humid temperate climates. But many look past these incredibly useful and fascinating plants. Moss is considered by some to be an unwanted addition to a garden or outside space. But here, we actively embrace it. As well as seeing some on mature trees, we also see plenty on stones and in shady spots around our garden, and on some farm-building roofs close by.

Moss is excellent at accumulating nutrients. As a dynamic accumulator, it is also great at cleaning our air. Certain moss species are considerably more capable of accumulating heavy metals than tree leaves.1

Nitrogen oxide, ozone and particulate matter (fine dust) are absorbed by mosses, offsetting many tonnes of CO2 equivalents per year. This has led to the invention of the ‘City Tree’ – a moss filter already in use in Norway, France, Germany, Belgium, the UK, Macedonia and Hong Kong. One CityTree is said to be equivalent to 275 trees – not only sequestering carbon, but also ridding city air of other harmful substances. Placement of these structures close to industrial sites and around cities will help clean up the air that we breathe. 

Whether we are looking at natural formations in a rural area like mine, or installations in our inner cities – mosses are amazing. We should definitely pay them more attention.

Spreading moss to new parts of a garden can be achieved transplanting small sections of moss to a new area with similar conditions.

You can also spread moss by chopping up a small quantity of moss and adding it to a slurry of yoghurt. (Around 1 cup moss to 2 cups yoghurt.) Leave this to rest for a couple of days to encourage spore formation, then paint this onto rocks or brick in a suitably moist and shady spot. You should see signs of new moss growth within around 6 weeks or so in the right conditions.

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6025423/

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