Even so, “a moss lawn requires far less maintenance than grass,” says Andy Navage, director of horticulture at the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island in Washington. It’s not bothered by compacted soil, doesn’t require pesticides, and is remarkably resilient when it comes to drought and cold, going dormant when conditions are less favorable, and rehydrating when things improve. “With a grass lawn you’re looking at mowing once or twice a week,” Navage says. “But with a firmly established moss garden, you really only have to keep the majority of the leaves off and make sure weeds don’t encroach.”
Grass can be tough to keep at bay, says moss ecologist Dr. Robin Kimmerer, author of Gathering Moss (Oregon State University Press; 2003). “Unless the conditions are sufficiently moist and shady, in a competitive situation between grass and moss, the grass is generally going to win.”
Cushion moss (Leucobryum glaucum) favors shade but can tolerate partial sun. Grow it in sandy rather than dense soils. The plant grows in clumps and appears a light green with a silvery white cast.