Starting a Novice Moss, Rock, or Fairy Garden
Take Advantage of Plants and Features Already There
Begginner Moss, Rock and Fairy Gardens
A moss garden is a great option for landscaping at any scale, but it's also a great way to relax with a creative but easy project.
Moss, rock, and fairy garden pictures are fun to look through and will get your creative juices flowing. Moss gardens are an endeavor well suited to a novice gardener like myself, but they also offer plenty of additional advantages and room for growth as experience increases.
- You can adjust them to any size or space you have available.
- They are suitable for indoor or outdoors.
- You can supplement them with items you've already got in your house, yard, or garden.
- There are plenty of articles and examples to draw from.
- Mosses are easy to start or to transplant.
Ideas and Inspiration
My first teasers were a facebook tag from a friend (she and I are both fond of moss in wooded settings) to this video on moss gardening, followed by a barista's goals for bonsai gardening (leading me to think more about mini gardening), and my surprise at the outcome of a simple Google search of "start your own moss".
Since that time, every pinterest or Google search has led to lengthy but productive idea gathering sessions. Stumbling onto the following tools jump started my project and helped me progress so far.
- Un-rushed Pinterest List Browsing --- so many directions you can go with this. It's addictive and it's amazing what people have come up with.
- Searching Google Images --- a simple way to supplement above without over-thinking any one idea.
- Diversifying Search Terms --- an overly simple tip, but after spending so long branching out from an initial search, you may not realize how many side branches you still missed.
- A few impulsive Ebay products Searches --- I never would have come up with fairy gardening if I hadn't looked up gnomes, which then got me some of my best results on Pinterest and google for the type of moss garden I was picturing. Plus the ideas are neat, from mini yard flamingos to tools, to bird houses.
- Revisiting Ideas Between Starting Steps --- getting sucked into piecing moss together is like getting sucked into Pinterest lists, and you can get ahead of yourself and forget where you were headed.
Directly relevant & detailed
Brainstorming, refining, expanding, economizing
Mix of directly & indirectly relevant
Brainstorming & refining
Ebay or Amazon
Relevant tools & accessories
Unexpected ideas/terms, items/ideas to build around (fairy garden accessories, mini fountains, mini garden lights)
Outdoor Site Selection
You can put a rock garden anywhere. You can put a moss garden almost anywhere, and can adapt to sub-optimal conditions by combining it with a rock garden or through your moss-type selection. For example, a portion of your selected site that gets too much sun for a delicate moss (which likes at least partial shade) could be an area that morphs into pebbles or a rock feature.
A few considerations include:
1. Flow of traffic. The side of my porch I selected is an area where my family drags the hose and knocks down my flowers. So a moss garden is low enough to escape this fate, but I may still have to mitigate for traffic. My dog will probably never learn not to jump off this side of the porch when she's excited, so I've not widened the garden beyond where she will land or could catch an ankle on an edge stone. A walkway is probably not optimal for a moss garden unless:
- You are in a wet enough climate and want to incorporate moss with stepping stones
- You plan to frame a path with a moss or rock garden
- You want to experiment with walk-able mosses
2. Sun Exposure. Particularly if you are starting your moss from scratch, you need some shade. If you are set on a sun drenched area, transplant your moss from a similar site or research sun tolerant mosses to buy or grow.
3. Pet Proofing. As above, don't pick an area where your pets loaf or jump or play. Our chickens weren't interested in the area I picked until I started gardening it, so I have to watch for minor deconstructions as my garden progresses. I'm trying to arrange things in a way that makes chicken damage less likely (or at least less visible) and I suspect that the bugs available with the loose soil are their draw, which will decline over time.
4. Work-able area. Don't try for a start to finish project, unless that is all your personality or schedule will allow. Stepping away and coming back has been beneficial. It is also good to make sure your mosses are growing well and that your pieces are staying put. It's a fun project, so I'm glad I found a spot where it can grow over time.
I read up only slightly on transplanting mosses, as I expected to start with the squirt bottle method described in the following section. But I found multiple varieties of moss growing under the shrubs in the very back of my yard and started working with those without reading any further. I kept them very moist and they all transplanted with marginal effort.
I've read since that the depth of soil you collect with them is important and that soil microbes need to remain in balance. There may have been something about rhizomes. I think I will be more careful about these factors if I collect more from wooded sites away from home.
In my own yard, I simply scooped below the sections of moss with a small trowel or a larger shovel for larger pieces, and had a box top or plastic tray to scoop them straight on to. I placed them where I wanted them, watered carefully, and watched closely for the following few days. A few were staged for multiple days and they did well, too.
I also used the moss that grew in pots under my porch over the past year. The tendency for any pot in that corner to grow moss was also a strong selection factor.
You can order or buy mosses to plant, but in my area I think this would be a fairly expensive way to start. Alternately, there are many varieties and sizes of delicate ground covers you could supplement with, and succulents and setums supplement nicely as well.
Start Your Own Moss
Starting Moss (Blender Method)
Different sites offer different recipes to get started with. I've bough yogurt and a squirt bottle and have a beer saved in case I want to try a few alternatives.
In general, most recipes start with a handful of moss, one or two cups of yogurt or beer, and varying amounts of sugar.
6 weeks in a shady spot, as noted in the video, seems to be the typical recommendation.
This video walks you through it, but also covers thoroughly the benefits of broader landscaping with moss (up to replacing your lawn with moss as an ecologically responsible alternative).
You can paint or spray your concoction onto rocks, pots, surfaces, or onto cloth to grow and expand for transplanting.