a greener, no-fuss yard solution: moss


Our backyard is big and shady and perfect for (wo)man and beast with the exception of one glaring problem: patchy grass. There are some areas that, because of the slope and clay-based soil, make it almost impossible to get grass to take root. Yet without grass, we are constantly toweling off muddy paws and feet. So after several years of trying, we’ve decided to let nature take its course. On areas where we have heavy foot traffic, we’ve placed large chunks of limestone and mulched around them to connect flowerbeds and make pathways. Still, that leaves plenty of space around trees where nothing really seems right, except what’s already thriving there: moss. Although I’d bookmarked an article on the New York Times site way back in 2008, I wasn’t sure my resident lawn-lover would go for it. Now that we don’t use any chemicals and minimal water, however, it just makes sense. Once we make the decision between ordering Moss Acre’s moss milkshake or sheet moss, we’ll be all set to give it a try. I’ll update you on our results — unfortunately, that lovely photo is not of our yard! — Sarah L.

From our partners

can’t wait to hear. I loved moss gardens on a visit to Japan and thought about it in my shady backyard. The fact that it is truly the dog’s shady backyard and not mine has made me hesitate.
For the opposite, (sunny/sandy) I’ve enjoyed following susan harris’ grass replacement story.

My husband’s parents have moss covering a good portion of their lawn which has the same conditions you describe: shady, hilly and clay-ey. It really does look beautiful and is ridiculously easy to care for, but be careful if that area gets foot traffic — it can get extremely slippery after a good rain!

Katie D

very dreamy! i love it :)


I’ve heard you can take some existing moss and blend it with plain yogurt (sure to give your smoothies a new taste the next time) and spray it on areas you want moss covered. Our soil is more loam than clay, but we’ve got shade and rock to spare.