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Types of Moss Ground Cover

stone path image by Sid Viswakumar from

Quick to spread, low-growing and non-invasive, moss makes an ideal ground cover for shady areas. Once properly established, it also requires minimal care. Different types of moss are suited for different applications, such as filling in a stone path or creating a moss lawn. The different varieties also offer different colors, heights and textures, depending on your landscape needs.


One of the most common types of moss, hypnum grows best in the shade. It is recommended for areas with either low or moderate traffic. A very low-growing moss, hypnum is ideal for many uses, including creating an entire moss "lawn." It is also commonly used along paths, and grows well between stones and around other plants. It will not tolerate direct afternoon light.


Leucobryum, also known as Cushion moss, grows in clumps and is one of the few mosses that will tolerate partial or afternoon sun. Although it can tolerate some sun, Leucobryum grows better in shade. Rather than a deep or medium green, cushion moss is light green with a silvery cast at the edges.


Hair cap moss, or polytrichum, earns its name from its shaggy appearance with hair or needle-like extensions. It grows well in medium shade, and will tolerate some sunlight. Polytrichum also likes to grow in sand rather than in dense soils. It is a deep forest green and is great for adding visual interest and texture without adding height. It also works well planted as a border along lower growing mosses.


Commonly known as rock cap moss, dicranum is perfect for rock gardens or gravel areas because it will grow on top of rocks and boulders. It will also grow in soil, however, and is commonly used as a ground cover in place of grass. Dicranum thrives in the shade. It is a rich medium green and requires little care once established.

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