Garden Moss Decorations
While moss in a garden can be a problem, especially if you do not want it, it can also be a decorators dream. It can be used to age pots, planted in pots or turned into living graffiti. Below are the directions for aging pots and creating your own living graffiti.
Aging Pots with Moss
This is an old trick that many gardeners have used to age their plantings. This first step of this process is to get your supplies together. You will need buttermilk, a few sponge brushes or sponges, and garden moss. If you have buttermilk that is getting ready to expire, do not worry. This project is perfect for getting rid of expired supplies.
Once you have your buttermilk, pour it into a bowl. Take your moss and break it up into the buttermilk. While doing this, remove any soil, rocks and/or bark you may find. Mix the buttermilk and moss completely. Next, take your sponge brush and begin to “paint” on the buttermilk and moss mixture. If you find this too difficult, take a sponge and spread the mixture on the pot.
Place the treated pot in a shady location. Monitor the moss mixture making sure that it does not dry out. Once you get the look you like, remove any thick clumps. Next, plant it as usual and return it to a shady location to keep the moss healthy.
Prior to describing this process, please keep in mind that if you apply this to a public place it is still considered graffiti. In doing so, you can be arrested and charged with vandalism.
To begin this process, one will first need to scope out the area by which you would like to put your living graffiti on. A porous surface is great but avoid placing the moss on painted surfaces. The contents will strip the paint off the area.
Once you have the area in mind, the next step is to get your supplies together. For this project, you will need a blender, moss, a clean diaper, buttermilk or yogurt, and a paint brush. To begin this process, starts with collecting the moss. You will need to harvest a lot for your words and it will need to be processed as describe in aging pots with moss. Once you have your moss, set it aside.
At this point, you are ready for the blender. To the blender, you will need to add 1 ½ cup of water and 2 cups of buttermilk or yogurt. Next, you will need to break the moss up into small pieces and place in the blender.
The next step in this process requires the clean diaper. What you want to harvest out of this diaper is the hydrogel that is located in the crotch area of the diaper. This gel is very safe and is used to hold water for plants until they need it. To harvest the hydrogel from a diaper is easy. It starts by cutting the inside lining and removing the stuffing from the outer covering. Place this stuffing inside a sealable plastic bag. Once all the stuffing is removed, you may notice some powdery residue in the bottom of the diaper. Add this powder to the plastic bag. Seal the bag up and shake. After you have done that, you will notice that the powder ends up in the bottom of the bag. Next, cut a corner out of the bag and shake the powder into a bowl.
From this bowl, measure out 2 teaspoons of this hydrogel and add to the blender. Turn the blender on and mix. Do not liquefy. The moss cells will not survive this. What you are looking for at this stage is a paint like substance. If you find that this is not happening, add corn syrup a little at a time until you reach the proper consistency.
Once your moss paint is ready, it is time to paint it on. You can begin this process with a brush but you may find that a combination of tools works better. Simply “paint” on your moss into a design that you like. After you have your masterpiece complete, gently spray it with water. Repeat this latter step every day until you see moss beginning to grow.
After you moss begins to grow, you can back off on the watering every day. But……during times of drought, you will need to resume the daily watering. Also, as the season changes and the amount of sunlight that hits your design wanes, you may find that some of your design grows beautifully while others appear to die back. This dieback is due to too much sunlight. You can reapply the buttermilk/yogurt and moss mixture or just let nature take its course.
Need some ideas beyond writing on the side of stone building? How about writing words on terra cotta pots? You could label them with plant names, peoples’ names, dates or just plain words. What about taking cider blocks and turning them on their side so that the openings are on the top. These, in turn could be painted with the buttermilk/yogurt and moss mixture and used as landscape edging or planters.
As beautiful as this project is, there does come a time when the weather cools and the moss begin to turn a greenish brown. Believe it or not, it is preparing for the winter. What does this mean for your design? Well, the dark color will remain and may not show up depending on the background color of the “painted” surface. Once spring reappears, you will see your design begin to appear again but if it does not or only part of it reappears, do not worry. You can simply repeat the process on the areas that did not survive.
To encourage growth on the old and new, do not forget to mist with water often.
What do you do if you no longer want your moss graffiti? Well, there a couple of things you can do. First, just expose the area to more sunlight. This will eventually kill the moss and you can scrape it away. Second, you can spray it with water using a high pressure washer but be careful when using this approach. The high pressure of the water can damage surfaces. Lastly, you can take a wire brush or a flat edged shovel to the moss. Either one of these tools will break up and lift the moss off the surface.