Moss is a beautiful element in garden design, modern art, and indoor gardens. Moss is also a key ingredient in arrangements such as kokedama, terrariums, fairy gardens, and living centrepieces. Once you know where to find moss, you’ll want to use it in your own decor. Fortunately, it’s easy to get moss if you live in an area where moss grows naturally. If not, you can buy real live moss online.
Where to Buy Moss
Moss can be purchased at floral shops and even at dollar stores, but it’s often preserved (sometimes with chemicals). Preserved moss can be a difficult to work with because it’s so dry. Buying fresh living moss like this may be a better option for projects like terrariums and kokedama.
Where to Find Moss: How to Harvest Moss Yourself
Finding your own moss outdoors is a more affordable (and fun) option. Collecting your own moss from a known area also means that you’ll have confidence that the moss hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals (either during the growing process or during the preserving process). You’ll spend some enjoyable time out in nature learning how to collect moss!
Where to Find Moss: General Considerations
Moss is relatively easy to find in areas with frequent rainfall. We are lucky to have enough rainfall to support healthy quantities of moss in our area (the Pacific Northwest). We have some grassy parts of our yard but also some mossy areas. I’ve let the moss take over where it wants to because it’s easier to take care of than grass and is lovely to walk on.
If you don’t have moss in your own yard (but think it grows it your climate), find a location where you can forage for moss. You’ll need permission from the landowner/organization if you intend to forage on private land, or the right to collect and take home materials if it’s on public or parkland of some sort. Be sure to double check that you’ve got permission to collect moss prior to foraging.
Where to Find Moss: Where Does Moss Grow in Nature?
In general, look for shady, moist areas where moss may grow. Moss can grow on the ground, on fallen logs, on rocks, and even on living trees. Check valleys with water features which tend to have moist, shady environments. The shady side of large rocks or trees can be particularly mossy (the north-facing side here in Canada).
Moss can look yellowish when dry and dormant but generally turns a bright green with some rain and a bit of sunshine. I like the look of the bright green live moss so I generally collect moss after a period of rain. It is nice to wait for the ground to drain a little bit after the rain as it’s less messy to collect when it’s not sopping wet.
If you still don’t know where to find moss after checking the moist, shady areas (but think it does grow in your climate), find someone local who knows more about local forests such as a garden mentor. You can also ask about where does moss grow locally at garden centres or the farmers market.
Foraging for Moss: Supplies and Timing
Moss can be scooped off the ground using your hands, a trowel, or a flat kitchen flipper tool/BBQ tool. In my own yard (which I know well), I just use my hands to scoop up handfuls of moss, but I would use gloves and a flat trowel to collect moss in other areas. Regardless of where to find moss in your area, you’ll also need a basket or other container to hold the moss you’ve collected.
When learning how to harvest moss, wait until after a period of rain so that the moss is moist. Find a nice patch of moss that doesn’t have too much grass or other plants in it. If there is some grass growing in the moss, it’s easiest to pull it out before you collect the moss rather than picking it out afterwards. Also remove any surface debris such as leaves or sticks from on top of the moss.
How to Harvest Moss
When learning how to harvest moss, it’s good to work slowly and carefully. Use a gloved hand, flat trowel, or kitchen tool to reach under the moss so it can be pried off the ground (or other substrate) in intact pieces. Try not to just grab the moss with your hands and squish it. Live moss is nicer to work with when it comes off in sheets that retain the original shape.
Brush off any dirt that comes off on the bottom of the live moss sheet. It’s easier to remove the moss without much dirt when the ground isn’t sopping wet. If lots of dirt does come up with the moss, it’s possible to gently wash the dirt off the bottom of the moss. Try not to wash the whole patch of moss though, as this will disturb it’s natural look. Waiting for the dirt to dry and then simply brushing it off will keep your live moss intact.
Using Live Moss in Crafts
Your foraged moss has many uses, including:
- Use it as a base for a living centrepiece
- Create a kokedama moss ball
- Make an enclosed terrarium
- Use it in a fairy garden
- Place it on some dirt or a stone to start a new moss colony
In the photo above, I’ve used live moss from my yard as a base for some eggs died with red cabbage.
What types of moss grow in your area? Do you know where to find moss in your region? Where does moss grow where you live? Share your stories and observations in the comments section below!
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