What to do about Moss and Lichen in the Garden

The garden is frozen in suspended animation. Hints of catkins, tips of buds and bulbs, an army of daffodils, hyacinths, and forget-me-nots in waiting. But the moss on the lawn is growing fast. What is moss for? I did some research.

Moss on the lawn
Moss is Bad

Gardening websites talk darkly about bad drainage, poor soil, and infestation. There are instructions about raking, and chemical treatments to stop moss turning grass into soggy sludge. It is scary stuff. The children who live here need good turf for their football practice. It’s going to take gallons of chemicals, and several weeks with a rake, to sort this lot out.  

Moss is Good

Moss is the ancestor of all plants.  There are 22,000 species worldwide. I did a count outside and found three. Only 21,997 to go.

Beautiful Moss

One in 22,000

Japanese gardens have moss lawns to create calm and stillness. A house with a moss roof will be perfectly insulated. Moss makes trees glow and turns them into places where trolls might live.

It produces oxygen, houses insects, and has tough spores to survive drought and spring to life with rain. It is an environmental indicator. Polluted areas don’t have a moss problem.


Put the rake down and move the goalposts to the bit of lawn that has the least moss and see what happens.


This is a perfectly good training area.

Two goalkeepers are better than one

Two goalies are better than one.

Then I spotted Lichen.

Lichen on a tree

Check out https://www.instagram.com/clare_seal_maker/ for more pictures. She’s the one who reminded me to spot it.

What is Lichen?

It’s a symbiotic mix mixture of fungus and algae that lives on fresh air. There are over 20,000 types and it covers 7% of the planet, especially in the Arctic where reindeer eat it.

It traps moisture. Rocks covered with lichen will eventually break down and turn to soil. DIY shops are full of information on which chemicals kill it fastest, with warnings about what it will do to walls if you don’t use them.

Lichen destroying stone

Here is some lichen working hard on turning stone to earth.  It should be done in 100 years or maybe 1,000?

It produces oxygen and is a better environmental indicator than moss. Scientists use it to detect air pollution, ozone depletion, and even metal contamination. If you need to know if these problems are going on near you, look around for lichen. If you can’t see any, they probably are.

Noticing things is compulsive, especially when all walks have to be local and are exactly the same each day. Here’s a new hobby to try, inspired by the heady days of spring 2020 when windows across the UK were adorned with tributes to the NHS

Dead rainbow spotting

They are everywhere. The average is 5-10 per hour round here. See them lurking, forgotten in windows, with fading crayon work and drooping corners. Or check out paths and patios for sodden sculptures and boards. I am working out a points system for the saddest ones.  This is the winner so far.

Dead Rainbow

This one is worth 10 points

But the vaccines are coming. Boris bleats about them daily, as if he made them himself. He’s hoping we will forget what he did last year. How long before he starts pointing out that we have more vaccines than New Zealand?

It is beyond exciting to drive past our health centre and see the queue. The police presence brings added importance to it all.

Police at the vaccination centre

This photo does not exactly capture the excitement. That is because it feels a bit dodgy photographing police so I did it on the sly. But it is proof that vaccines are happening.

Let’s hope there will be enough for everybody. This virus will know if we are not all in this together. That’s what viruses like best.

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