How Much Does a Moss Lawn Cost? A Step-By-Step Breakdown

A moss lawn with pavers and a a water stream

The initial investment for a moss lawn is higher than that of a traditional grass lawn, but in the long term, a moss lawn is cheaper because of its low maintenance. In this article, we explain how much a moss yard costs by breaking it down into initial costs, installation costs, and maintenance costs.

1. Initial Costs

Before you plant a moss lawn, you’ll need to test the soil and prepare the area. Once the area is prepared, you’ll have the purchase or collect live moss. The cheapest (but also most complicated) option is using a moss slurry to grow the moss.

1.1 Soil Testing and Preparation

Moss plants prefer soil with a pH between 5.0 and 5.5. It will survive outside of this range but it won’t be very lush and green. Therefore, it is a good idea to test the pH of the soil before you plant a moss garden.

A pH meter for soil usually costs between 20 and 30 dollars.

If the soil is between 5.0 and 5.5, no further action is needed and you can begin preparing the soil to install the moss. But if the pH is higher than 5.5, you may want to use Sulfur to lower it. How much Suflur you need, depends on the size of your moss lawn but a 5lb bag that covers 100-200 square feet will cost around 40 dollars.

You can buy grounded limestone to lower the pH of the soil if it is higher than 5.5. The price depends again on how much you need but it can range between 10 and 40 dollars.

1.2 Buying Moss

The price of moss depends on the species. Some mosses spread quicker than others, some areas are easier to harvest and others are difficult to propagate. That is why moss nurseries charge different prices for different moss species.

Moss can be divided into two main types. Namely; acrocarpous and pleurocarpous mosses. Pleurocapous mosses spread creeping over the soil and some of these species can be used as grass replacement. Examples of mosses used as an alternative to grass are Sheet moss or Carpet moss (both of the genus Hypnum). You can buy 5 square feet of Sheet moss or Carpet moss for 49 dollars and the more you buy, the cheaper the price per square foot.

The price per square foot can drop to less than 4 dollars if you buy moss in bulk.

The second type are acrocarpous mosses which tend to grow upwards and often in colonies/clumps. These mosses are used in moss beds and gardens and are appreciated for their aesthetics. They can not be used as an alternative because they can not handle foot traffic.

TIP: We have live moss for sale.

Examples of acrocarpous mosses are Pincushion moss and Fern moss. These mosses are available from 49 dollars per square foot as well but some species are more expensive than others because they are harder to harvest and have a slower growth rate.

1.3 Collecting Moss

Another option is collecting the moss from nature. This is a cheaper option if you can identify the moss species you want to grow in your yard. Be aware that it can be illegal to harvest moss from private or public land. Make sure to check if you are allowed to or ask for permission.

Make sure to harvest the moss sustainably by taking small clumps from different areas. This will ensure the genetic diversity within your moss lawn but also ensure that the natural colonies survive. Basic gathering tools such as a trowel and a collection basket can be purchased for under 50 dollars.

1.4 Using a Moss Slurry

If you have a lot of patience, you may use a moss slurry/milkshake to propagate the moss. You can make one either yourself or buy one online. If you make one online, you’ll need a blender (I assume you already have one), 2 units of yogurt or buttermilk, and 1 unit of moss fragments. Bled this together until it looks like a smoothy and spread it out over the area. Keep it moist until the moss has matured. It may be easy to purchase the moss to ensure it is the correct species.

2. Installation Costs

The costs of installing the moss into your garden highly depend if you hire professionals or if you do it yourself.

2.1 DIY Installation

This is by far the cheapest option because you won’t have to pay for labor but it will require time and effort. Planting moss is not the most complicated task once the area is well-prepared. Consider using an adhesive to make it easier for the moss to attach itself to the soil. Spread the adhesive out over the soil before you plant the moss.

Now the exciting part starts. You can start planting the moss in your yard. Do this as follows:

  1. Step 1: Open the box with live moss (either purchased or collected as outlined above.)
  2. Step 2: Dip the first moss clump for a second or two into a bucket of water (rainwater or filtered water).
  3. Step 3: Press it firmly onto the soil to remove any air pockets.
  4. Step 4: Repeat the process until you’ve covered the whole area.

The only expenses you’ll have are the costs for basic gardening tools such as a trowel, rake, and bucket. You’ll probably already have these tools (if not, you’ll be able to buy all three tools for under 50 dollars), and since you do the installation yourself, you’ll save a lot of expenses for the installation of your moss lawn.

2.2 Professional Installation

Hiring a professional to install your moss lawn will significantly increase the expenses, but if you have the budget, this can ensure a high-quality installation process.

The price per square foot of installed moss depends highly on the efficiency of the professional you’ve hired. But based on our experience, you can expect to pay somewhere between 10 dollars and 18 dollars per square foot and this includes the moss, the labor, and any other materials.

The biggest downside of this approach is that it can triple the costs for the moss yard because a DIY approach will cost about 4 dollars per square foot and it will cost you three times as much if you are lucky when it’s done by a professional.

3. Ongoing Maintenance Costs

After the moss yard has been planted, you’ll have very little maintenance costs. This is the main benefit of a moss lawn because the long-term maintenance costs are very low. A moss lawn doesn’t need to be mowed and no fertilizers or pesticides are needed.

But there are some ongoing maintenance costs because a moss yard needs some basic care and maintenance such as watering, debris and weed control, and pest and disease management.

3.1 Watering

The costs for watering are minimal, especially for fully shaded moss yards. It needs frequent watering during the establishment phase but it typically survives on rainwater alone. Only during hot summer months, you may need to water it. But this is even not necessary because it may go dormant (brown) during these months but it will bounce back once the temperature goes down and the moisture levels return to normal.

3.2 Debris Removal

If you have trees growing in your garden, you may need a leaf blower to remove fallen leaves because they can smother the moss. You can use a rake but its better to use a leaf blower because it will cause less damage to the moss. A regular leaf blower is sufficient and it will cost you somewhere between 30 dollars and 150 dollars.

Moss yard with fallen leaves
Remove leaves from the moss lawn because it can smother the plants

3.3 Weed Control

Weed control is another issue that may occur during the establishment phase but it can also happen when the moss has turned a bit patchy for whatever reason. The best way is prevention by covering exposed soil with fragments of moss so they can grow into new plants and close the gap. Manual/hand weeding is recommended because pesticides will damage the moss. But you may want to use a small weed removal tool which can cost you between 10 and 20 dollars.

3.4 Pest and Disease Management

Moss gardens are considered to be pest-resistents because of their dense growth. Therefore, barely any pesticides are needed. In the rare occasions that pesticides occur, you shouldn’t use any chemicals because of the catastrophic effect on the fragile internal structure of moss. But organic treatments can (sporadically) be used and will cost you between 10 dollars and 50 dollars.

4. Conclusion

In the long term, a moss lawn is cheaper than a traditional grass lawn because of its low maintenance. It is not only cheaper, but it will save you al lot of time because you don’t have to mow your garden anymore.

Over ten years, the maintenance costs of a traditional grass yard will add op to thousands of euros and hundreds, if not thousands of hours. Whereas moss lawns almost cost no time or money after the initial establishment.

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