Where does moss come from?
Moss is an ancient plant that has been around on this planet for millions of years. Part of a group of non-vascular land plants known as the bryophytes, the species tends to thrive in damp and shaded conditions, forming into large clumps or mats that spread over an area. While it doesn’t typically cause any harm to other plants, moss can make your garden somewhat unsightly. What’s more, if it grows on patios or pathways, it can cause a slip hazard during wet weather.

Understanding where moss comes from and how it forms may help to cultivate an environment that doesn’t encourage its unwanted growth.

How does moss form?

You might wonder how a non-vascular, flowerless plant species can continue to reproduce and develop. Just what is it that makes moss so resilient? First, it’s worth understanding the anatomy of moss.

The plant itself consists of leaves that are usually one cell thick. They are attached to a stem that may have multiple branches belonging to it. This stem plays an integral role in controlling the moss’s water and nutrient intake.

Instead of seeds, moss possesses spores which form after fertilisation. These spores will germinate and eventually spread, often carried by the wind or through water, leading to further development of moss. But what conditions encourage moss to form? And can it be removed?


What conditions does it grow in?

Moss ultimately thrives off moisture and in areas that receive little to no sunlight.

If you have a patio or stone pathway that tends to receive a lot of water - whether through natural rainfall, when you water the garden, or when you irrigate the surrounding soil - this can encourage moss to grow.

Areas that are shaded by your house - outbuildings, trees, shrubs or garden furniture and ornaments - also encourage moss to grow as they prevent the sun from fully evaporating the moisture in the area, and can restrict air flow which also helps to get rid of it. The area will likely remain moist and damp, providing an ideal incubation chamber for moss to flourish.

Moss can also form in flower beds, plant pots, and even on your lawn. This is almost always due to poor growing conditions created by soil with insufficient levels of nutrients. Acidity levels play an important role in creating healthy soil that allows plants to grow. If the pH level is higher than 6.8 or lower than 6, then the plants growing within the soil may struggle to absorb sufficient nutrients they need to develop. This is where moss can thrive as it can still survive in these conditions.


Instead of seeds, moss possesses spores which form after fertilisation


How to prevent moss from forming

The most effective way to prevent moss from forming is to reduce the amount of shade or moisture in the area, or improve growing conditions of the soil from which it absorbs its nutrients. Some tips include:


  • Removing sun blockers where possible i.e. trimming trees and shrubs or repositioning garden furniture
  • Irrigating the soil so it doesn’t become overly compact and can drain effectively
  • Monitoring the pH levels in your soil with a test kit - which you can buy online or typically from garden centres

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know I always take a ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach. But if you’re currently experiencing an unwanted moss infestation on your property or in your garden, I hope this article has helped shed light on the subject. Feel free to have a look at the other articles on the site as you may also find them useful.