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Love 'mosscore?' Grow some cushiony greenery in your yard

An elevated view showing close-up, landscaped garden with a natural stepping stone pathway and green moss growing in between the stones.
mtreasure/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Sheet moss, tree moss and other types grow well in sandy soil and shady areas. If that sounds like your yard, buy some moss to fill in those areas or try your hand at a "moss milkshake," and make your own mix to paint on stones and walkways.

Back in 2020, the uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus pandemic drew many to a kind of back-to-nature escapism that became known as cottagecore.

That's an interest of aesthetically pleasing images and principles, made popular on social media. Cottagecore celebrates simple living - think rustic cottages, open meadows, fern-lined pathways, quiet retreats like sewing and baking.

And at the beginning of the pandemic with so much unknown, looking at endless images online of these idyllic pastimes, lush green landscapes and open flower fields probably did go a fair way to quiet worried minds.

For many in a more rural state like Vermont, practices embraced by cottagecore, like growing your own flowers and produce, keeping chickens in the back yard for fresh eggs and baking homemade bread, are not just a viral sensation but part of daily life.

Still, if you're looking to add another layer of this idyllic aesthetic to your own yards and landscape this spring, one way to achieve the look: moss.

Where the temperatures are cool and the weather moist and humid - think England, Ireland, Scotland and northern New England - moss grows fairly easily on rocks, outcroppings, bricks and pathways.

And if you've got the key conditions in your backyard, moss can, indeed, add lots of woodsy charm.

For moss to grow well though, it needs deeply shaded areas that still get some dappled light and sandy soil plus lots of moisture.

If your yard has wooded areas or shady parts that still get some indirect sunlight and your soil is very thin with low pH, there are hundreds of different types of mosses that you can grow.

If your patience is shorter than it takes moss to grow on a stone, a good method to jump-start the process is to purchase it from a garden center.

Some types that you can buy include sheet moss, tree moss, cushion moss and fern moss.

Sheet mossgrows low to the ground and creates a kind of carpet on rocks and soil. It's fast-growing while tree moss, grows a bit taller. Because either of these mosses won't grow too tall, you'll never need to mow them.

Cushion moss grows better in sandier soils while fern moss grows well on slopes and wet areas.

More moss-growing techniques from Vermont Public: Adding Green Ground Cover To Your Landscape With A Recipe For Moss

One method that might encourage more moss growth involves making a "moss milkshake!"

The moss milkshake recipe calls for a handful of native moss that is already growing in your landscape, then adding a cup of buttermilk and a bit of water.

Blend all of the ingredients in a blender, then use the liquified moss mixture to "paint" it with a brush onto clay pots, bricks, and any wooded, shady and wet areas that you want to encourage more moss to grow.

Water the moss-painted areas regularly to keep the humidity high and you should see some moss growing. This isn't a proven method but worth a try!

Q: I have a small greenhouse built from scraps and each spring I start my flower seeds in cells filled with some PROMIX soil and then transplant them. Last year I started to feed Neptune to the seedlings once they started to get a little bigger. The whole affair is kind of costly. Am I using the right products? And is there a better way to start the seeds so I don't have to transplant them once they get a little bigger? - Rosine, in Clifton Park, NY

A: This method sounds good for starting flowers from seed but you can save some money and time with a couple of adjustments.

First, if you're having trouble with small seeds germinating, try a different potting soil like a germinating mix. That soil is more finely milled which makes it easier for small seeds to grow in it.

As for saving on the amount of potting soil and containers that you're using, for larger types of plants like tomato, pepper, eggplant, squash, zucchini and zinnias, start the seeds out in two-inch pots.

Place two seeds into each of these pots. Once the seeds germinate and grow a bit, thin them down so there is just one seedling left in each two-inch pot.

Once each seed grows to about six inches tall, transplant from the two-inch pot into a three- or four-inch pot. That's the pot it will grow in until the plant goes directly into your garden or raised beds.

Starting from seed this way saves on potting soil and containers!

All Things Gardening is powered by you, our audience! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes.

You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling Vermont Public at 1-800-639-2192.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition with Vermont Public host Mary Williams Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch by tweeting us @vermontpublicWe've closed our comments. Read about all the ways to get in touch here.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.