Mosses are simple dense clumpy plants that usually grow in the shade. They have recently been categorised as their own type of Bryophytes and are building a reputation amongst the gardening community due to their positive environmental impact. It is commonly believed that mosses are poorly developed plants that can only be used for decorative purposes however, that is far from the truth. Moss plants have survived for a long time here on earth without harming the environment.
Mosses have no flowers, seeds, or roots. This plant feeds through one cell leaves instead of roots, can grow asexually, and reproduces by a wind- or water-supported spore dispersal cycle. One of the major benefits of moss is that they do not require fertilisers, pesticides, or herbicides which makes them very environmentally friendly and a much cheaper alternative to many gardening uses. Here are a few ways mosses can benefit the environment.
Moss Does Not Require or Produce Pollutants
Mosses do not require any soil supplements to assist in growth.
In fact, any type of fertilizer can be counterproductive and harmful to their growth. The high levels of nitrogen, and added nutrients commonly found in fertilizers are too intense for moss and will only slow it down. Another common supplement gardeners can stop using are herbicides. Mosses have a natural antibiotic ability to fight almost all plant disease. Experienced moss garders have noted that the rule to moss sickness can usually be due to mistakes such as the absence of attention, or overwatering. Finally, the third harmful substance that can be eliminated with moss gardening are pesticides. Most common insects and pests do not feed on moss, and the insects that can be found living on the plant would not cause any damage to the colony’s growth. In fact, it is more common to find beneficial occupants such as salamanders and frogs.
One of the best applications for moss is using it as an alternative to the typical green grass lawn. Carpet moss is the best type of moss to use around areas that have a some type of shade during the daytime. Carpet moss can grow quickly and efficiently to fill out the entire landscape. Moss does not require any lawn mowing, or intermittent watering. This can drastically reduce the costs, save water, and decrease lawn mower related air pollution.
Moss Can Fight The Global Carbon Cycle
One of the most effective carbon sequesters on land are Sphagnum, the genus that comprise more than 300 species of moss and is most well known as peat moss. Carbon sequestration is the process in which carbon is captured from the atmosphere and is stored in long term storage deferring climate change. Moss covers 3% of the land mass and stores perhaps more carbon than any other plant on land. These mosses are extremely beneficial to the environment, however, unfortunately, a large percentage have been destroyed by human activity including, clearing out forests and agriculture. Almost 250,000 acres are lost in Indonesia every year.
Moreover, Siberian peat bogs, frozen wetlands comprised of dead plants including mosses, are thawing for the first time after eleven thousand years, releasing billions of tons of methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide. If these mosses burn, they can produce carbon dioxide for months and even up to years, thus speeding up climate change. Scientists at Bangor University in Wales are investigating ways to plant moss globally to enhance our sustainability.
Moss Can Fight Stormwater Drainage
Moss plays a major role as a solution to many problematic side effects of extreme winter weather. Heavy snow storms usually require a large amount of salt to be used throughout a city. This salt will melt into any available soil and eventually end up in groundwater. Moreover, runoff water that does not get absorbed can pick up street pollutants and drain into lakes, river, and coasts. The Geological survey by the US has reported that “Stormwater picks up potential pollutants that may include sediment, nutrients (from lawn fertilizers), bacteria (from animal and human waste), pesticides (from lawn and garden chemicals), metals (from rooftops and roadways), and petroleum by-products (from leaking vehicles).” Moss can survive against all this polluted water and continues to work as a buffer to slow down runoff water drainage.
Moss And The Green Roof Movement
European countries have been utilizing moss for green roofs for some time now due to the multiple benefits of the practice. A green roof can entirely change the feel of more crowded urban spaces while absorbing runoff stormwaters and reducing building temperatures. The North Carolina Arboretum was the first green roof to be installed in the United States in June 2012. The roof has endured rough conditions including 98 degrees temperature, wind exceeding 60 mph, hail, and direct summer sun. This innovative roof demonstrates the strength, sustainability, and benefits of sun-moss as roof plants.