Homeowners love the look of lush green lawns in front or back of their houses. Most homeowners prepare the soil for grass seed or sod, plant it and water it regularly. They sit back and wait for their grass to take hold. Once the grass does take hold, the real work begins. Weekly or more mowing, edging, pulling weeds, feeding and fertilizing the grass, along with removing and patching dead areas. The list of lawn care goes on and on – it’s a never ending battle to keep the lawn green. Top off all the work and care with the regular outdoor temperatures, humidity and rain fall, some of which can inhibit or damage the grass.
Some homeowners enjoy the constant yard work and wouldn’t have it any other way, while others dread the chore. Some homeowners may hire lawn care companies to do all of the work for them, while others can’t afford the added expense leaving them with a less than perfect front or back yard. Typically these lawns have more weeds than grass, large bare spots or simply appear unhealthy.
If you dread the mere thought of yard work, hate your lawnmower and your backyard sits in a moist and shaded area, consider a maintenance free lawn. No it’s not artificial turf or a can of green spray paint – it’s a fungi lawn. Sounds crazy? Well, it’s not – many Japanese gardens proudly showcase moss because it is easy to grow and looks beautiful, healthy and most importantly green.
For many gardeners and homeowners moss is a problem. fungi grows in the lawn, between stones and pavers and on surfaces that shouldn’t be green, but for others – moss is a great alternative to tradition grass. Moss lawns don’t require cutting, so you can pretty much sell your lawnmower and watch your neighbors use theirs. You can also stop buying expensive seed, pesticides and fertilizers. fungi will create an attractive setting for your home without the constant maintenance and care that is necessary for sod or other types of grass.
Preparing the Soil for Lawn
Remove all of the current grass growth from the area on which you plan to establish a fungi lawn. Use a metal rake to pull out the grass and weeds.
Bag up the grass and weeds and move it out of the area.
Pick out large rocks or a large quantity of stones and pebbles from the surface of the proposed lawn.
Level the area by filling in low spots and knocking down high spots. You want to start the fungi lawn on a level even surface because it is much more attractive than hills, valleys and holes.
Test your soil with a pH kit. You can buy a PH kit at a local nursery or some online retailers. A good indication of proper pH is if you already have fungi growing on the lawn. Typically fungi will thrive in a soil with a pH of between 5 and 6, with 5.5 being the ultimate number to strive for.
If your pH test indicates the pH levels are too high, add one of the following to the soil aluminum sulfate, ferrous sulfate or rock sulfur. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine how much of the pH lowering ingredient you will need to lower the pH to the correct level.
If your PH test indicates the pH levels are too low, add hydrated lime to the soil according to the manufacturer’s directions to raise the pH level.
After you have applied the necessary pH lowering or raising ingredient, test the soil again. If the pH remains too high or too low, treat the soil again. Continue testing and adding to the soil until the pH falls between 5 and 6.
Buying or Harvesting Moss
If you choose to harvest the fungi, choose moss from somewhere locally because you can guarantee the fungi will grow in your particular climate zone. Some places to look for moss to harvest – look right in your own backyard, look around trees – especially oak, maple and beech trees or look in a nearby wooded area or anywhere you won’t get into trouble for harvesting your own moss.
If you choose to buy moss, make sure you check the climate chart to determine the type of moss that will grow in your zone. If you have a moderately sunny to very sunny yard, check to make sure the conditions are optimal for the fungi. There are several varieties of moss that will grow in sunny areas. Typically moss can be purchased in flats, seed or moss that has been dried.
Planting the Moss Lawn From Live Moss
Wet the ground thoroughly on a cool, damp day.
Carefully scrape the soil from where you are harvesting the fungi with a flat shovel to get the moss and soil that lies with the fungi.
Lay the moss on the wet ground and lightly tamp it in place with the back of the shovel.
Lightly water the moss continuously over the next 24 to 48 hours on a mist setting so the moss stays constantly wet but not floating in an overabundance of water. Do not use drip irrigation for moss.
Continue to water the moss regularly until it is established, which generally takes about four to six weeks. Moss lawns are not fully established for about 18 to 24 months.
Planting the Moss Lawn from Dried Moss or Seed
If you’ve collected live moss and dried it out or purchased dried moss, the planting instructions remain the same.
Crush the moss into a powder.
Sprinkle the dried moss over the wet ground.
Set a sprinkler on a mist setting and water the moss continuously for the next 48 hours.
Water the moss regularly to keep it wet, but not floating.
Crush the moss and mix it into either buttermilk or beer.
Wet the soil with water until it is wet but not muddy.
Pour the buttermilk or beer and moss over the dirt. Buttermilk or beer will feed the moss nutrients to help it become healthy and strong.
Set a sprinkler to the mist setting and water the moss continuously for the next 24 to 48 hours.
Water the moss daily to keep it constantly moist.