Moss in my bed... ???

gardeningwithlcgrace(7 Delaware)March 26, 2009

I dug a new bed last year. I wanted to get the soil broken up and start amending it. The soil is poor and in need of lime. (Yes, I had the soil tested).

The bed had a bit of moss....not the tall furry kind but the shorter softer kind when I started digging. The area also had an overabundance of ajuga looking plants and some stray weeds and a few clumps of stubborn grass.

As spring is finally happening here...the soil is still broken up...the ajuga is absolutely thrilled and spreading like crazy (NOT what I wanted to happen) and the moss has made itself comfortable...and covered the bed!

Will I need to remove the moss clumps before starting my work on the is bed? ~~The clumps just lift big deal. I'm guess that wherever I put them, moss will grow?

Or is the moss organic matter and I can just mix it all in together, add my compost, lime, and other things?

I have newspaper to smother out the moss (if you think it would help! :) I could add compost & layers on top of the newspaper...but, will the moss prevail?

I'm going to be using the bed as a cottage style area. I don't need it to be a "perfect" looking bed.

thanks so much for your thoughts!! LcGrace

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leira(6 MA)

My grandmother always taught me that moss was an indication that the soil was in need of lime...which you already knew!

The moss is organic matter, and I'm sure you could work it into the bed, or compost it for later use. If you put the clumps elsewhere, they won't grow (or at least not well) unless the moisture and acidity are right.

How much sun does this area get? Moss sometimes grows in shady places, which might not be ideal for a garden.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 10:12AM
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Most types of moss like acidic conditions, so I imagine that adding lime and raising the pH will resolve most of the issues. Moss doesn't spread via rhyzome or seed, but by spores. Covered with newspaper, compost and lime, I can't see how it would survive for very long.

Why not launch an experiment? Leave half in and cover with your ammendments, and on the other half remove the most first before ammending. Observe the results, and let us know. I'm sure someone down the road will appreciate the information. Besides, who knows, maybe decomposing moss under newspaper and compost is a secret recipe for beautiful blooms :-)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 10:16AM
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gardeningwithlcgrace(7 Delaware)

The soil is saturated now but in the summer it becomes powdery. I need to get other organic matter in there, as well as the lime. It needs some "substance" to it. It dries out too quickly in the summer.

The area isn't really "full" shade but almost. It does get a quick dose of direct sun between 3-6:30pm in the summer time. Basically...things are happy until then ... then they cook. This area is on the "south" SW side of the house, next to the house wall. The garden is about 15ft away from this bed and does wonderfully in full sun.

Since I loved & cared for this bed...the moss is loving me back! lol I'll try a few things with the bed and report back in. Thanks so much! LcGrace

I'll keep checking the thread to see if there area any other ideas.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 10:55AM
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To get rid of moss you need to understand the conditions that cause it to be there in the first place :-) Then you can make some informed actions to eradicate it.

Moss develops when one or more of the following conditions exist:
-consistently moist soils
-compacted or heavy soils
-infertile soils
-acidic soils

It appears you have at least a few of these conditions present :-) Adding a quantity of organic matter to loosen the soil, improve drainage and increase fertility is definitely advised. I'd test for pH before adding lime as you don't want to overdo - most plants prefer a slightly acidic soil. Rather than using newspapers, just top off the planting area with a layer of coarse mulch - that will keep the moss at bay, at least temporarily.

Because the area is in at least partial shade and remains damp in the winter, the moss will likely recur. I wouldn't be overly concerned about it - it doesn't affect the growth of other plants and can actually be an attractive evergreen asset to a shadier planting area. Moss is pretty much a fact of life in my garden despite having very well draining, very fertile organic soil - there are few areas that are full sun, we get enough moisture to keep moss happy and my soil is slightly acidic. I just garden with it or remove it where it becomes too thick.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 11:28AM
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I keep reading that moss is a sign of acidic soil conditions, but I have high pH and have moss along the side of the fence next to my neighbor who waters too much. I think moss is more of an indication of too much water and maybe shady conditions. Moss may prefer acidic soil, but if it's too wet, you can get moss in alkaline soil, too.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 11:40AM
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bp, you are entirely correct! The presence of moss in the garden or on the soil does not automatically mean you have acidic conditions. Various moss species will grow just as well in alkaline soils if other conditions, like moisture and shade, are suitable. That's one of the reasons I suggested testing for pH before adding quantities of lime. Moss is no guarantee of an acidic soil.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 11:55AM
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gardeningwithlcgrace(7 Delaware)

I was looking at some pics that looked like a "mystical" forest....I wonder if ferns may like it in this bed. Maybe I've been thinking about this particular flowerbed all wrong.... hhhmmm Maybe a shade garden with ferns and hosta?

Oh, now I've REALLY got some ideas going! Thanks so much for your suggestions! I can wait til I can get outside and start digging around now! :) Can't believe I hadn't thought of this sooner!!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 12:42PM
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do you think Bleeding Hearts will work too?
They come earler than the Hostas.

I scatter coarse ground egg shells in that area trying to control the slugs (hoping they will cut their bellies open)


    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 1:53PM
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gardeningwithlcgrace(7 Delaware)

ah, yes! Death to the slugs! Bleeding hearts would be perfect over there! thanks for the great idea!! They'll look so nice! I can go into the woods behind the house and dig as many ferns as I can carry...they'll grow wonderfully as long as I dig them small and transplant early. I prob have a few weeks before it's time to do that. Enough time to get the bed ready to shift gears....enough fighting with the moss...time to LOVE it! :)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 7:28PM
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If moss develops in shady, moist, acidic soils why does it grow quite well in my crushed dolomite driveway that is in full sun and only gets wet when it rains? Why does it grow so well on the loose beach sand in full sun that never gets any water unless it rains?
Moss is a first stage plant found growing mostly in soils that have very little organic matter. Since moss is a plant it is organic matter that can be mixed into your soil along with other organic matter.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 8:36AM
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Kimmsr, there are 33 different families of mosses common to the US and in them, several thousand different species. Obviously, not all require the same growing conditions. The preponderance DO grow in areas that tend to be moist, acidic, shady and infertile. They are very similar to ferns in that regard (to which they are rather closely related) in that there are species that will grow in just about any soil and light condition available but the majority are still common to moist, shady woodland areas. Gardens that offer these conditions will tend to encourage the growth of moss - that's all this discussion has been about.

Is there any other point to your statement?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 2:58PM
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So there are qualifications to your original post about mosses that you did not make clear?
The point I made is if you have moss growing on your soil check that soil to find out why the mosss is growing there. Do not assume certain fixed beliefs about moss, but dig in and look closely and correct the problems found. Do not simply go and buy some lime, which may not be the right kind and what you do need, and spread it around and waste your money, time, and energy, but have a good, reliable soil test done to determine whether what you need is a calcitic or dolomitic lime and how much would be needed to start to coreect the problem and also look at the level of humus in that soil and get more in there.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 7:27AM
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leira(6 MA)

Has anyone noticed that the original poster said right in the first sentence that the soil has already been tested, and would benefit from the addition of lime?

All of the "don't just add lime" recommendations might be called for otherwise, but, well...

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 8:33AM
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LcGrace, for the shady garden--Astible, Columbine, sweet pea trellis, Foxglove--some of my favorite flowers! Oh to have more shady garden area!


    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 4:45AM
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