Moss Grass: Grow It or Get Rid of It?

Depending on your outlook, moss grass is either a worthy alternative to turf grass or a nuisance. Here's how to approach it from both points of view.

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Everything You’ll Ever Need to Know About Moss Grass

Whether you’re for it or against it, here’s how to approach moss grass.

What is Moss Grass?

Moss grass is a low-maintenance ground cover that can be grown as an alternative to grass. Moss is a green, nonflowering plant with more than 9,000 species.

What Does Moss Grass Look Like?

Moss grass is usually, but not always, green. It is soft and appears as a dense, low-lying mat.

Pros of Moss Grass

  • Easy to plant;

  • Can survive in many environments

  • Can go a long time without water;

  • Does not require mowing;

  • Environmentally friendly because there’s no need to fertilize or water often;

  • Repels weeds thanks to its natural density;

  • Can grow in poor quality soil;

  • Many varieties to choose from. If you are a greenery fanatic, here are a few ideas for decorating walls with plants.

Cons of Moss Grass

  • Most varieties require at least part shade;

  • Leaves and debris need to be removed;

  • Could lower your home’s resale value because most buyers favor conventional turf grass;

  • Can look matted after heavy foot traffic;

  • Dogs and other pets can tear it with their claws.

How to Grow Moss Grass

Moss prefers acidic soil, so your first step is to perform a soil test. It needs a pH of around 5.5. A higher pH can be corrected by adding sulfur.

Next, you’ll need to remove the current lawn covering as well as any other plants. Thoroughly rake the area so it’s free of debris. You can also bring the lush look and feel of a cushy forest floor into your home with living moss rugs!

Avoid sourcing your moss from the natural environment; ⁠it disrupts the ecosystem where the moss is growing. Instead, visit a nursery or work with a lawn care professional to select an appropriate moss. Mosses native to your region have the best chance of thriving. Moss grows in pretty much every part of the United States, including deserts and mountains.

Expect moss grass to cost $4 to $10 per square foot, depending on the variety. That’s more than professionally installed sod, which costs about $1 to $2 per square foot. But keep in mind that moss will save you big bucks on water over the years.

To transplant the moss, moisten the soil before placing the moss over it. Walk on the moss and mist it daily. It will eventually establish itself and reproduce. A moss garden is any deliberately cultivated outdoor spot that features moss.

How to Get Rid of Moss Grass

If you view moss as a nuisance rather than something to be cultivated, it’s not hard to remove.

Chris Lemcke, national technical director at Weed Man, recommends using a product containing iron such as Lilly Miller Moss Out for Lawns. “Once it turns the moss black, you can rake out the dead moss and reseed the area,” he says.

How to Prevent Moss Grass from Growing Back

Lemcke says the best defense against recurring moss is a healthy lawn. “Overseed the area where you removed the moss,” he says. “Moss has less of a chance of establishing itself in a thick, grassy lawn.”

Amanda Prischak
Amanda Prischak is a freelance writer based in Erie, Pennsylvania.