Using Moss as a Design Element

Who can resist the pleasures of moss, a 10-second spa treatment, a bed of berber that caresses the sole? A stroll in the woods usually offers us this pleasure — but so could a walk in the garden. Thriving as a fixture in Japanese garden design, moss has only slowly crept West, though Norie Burnet of Richmond, Virginia, has been tending her moss garden for more than 10 years.

Moss grows in a checkerboard pattern in this modern zen garden. Photo by: Chim/Shutterstock.

"There are seven naturally occurring types of moss growing in my yard, among them pin cushion moss (Leucobryum glaucum), hair cap moss (Polytrichum commune) and Bryoandersonia illecebra. The mosses have created their own design over the years; my part has just been to keep the garden free of debris, one of the secrets to healthy moss," explains Norie.

Moss' subtle contrasts of height and color have the potential to attract admirers. Dave Benner, founder of moss retailer Moss Acres agrees: "When you allow mosses to grow together in one space, they make interesting patterns without any shaping or other interference. My hair-cap moss has grown almost 10 inches tall, and it looks like thousands of little trees speckling the yard. My fern moss is lighter and shorter and makes a nice contrast."

Moss, which thrives in moist environments, adds to the aged appearance of this wall fountain. Photo by: Nejron Photo/Shutterstock.

For those of us who aren't patient enough to wait for natural growth, moss can be transplanted. Moss Acres sells four different mosses in clumps by the box, available individually or in a sampler box so you can try them all. To transplant, the clumps should be moistened, then pushed firmly into cleared soil—no digging, please — leaving about 1 foot between each clump. Choose a shady location where the pH is between 5.0 and 5.5. Lacking true roots, moss takes its nutrients from the air, which explains why it grows in areas of poor soil. It is also drought resistant, provided it has sufficient shade. A misting kit will help keep the moss green, or you can let it brown and wait for the rains to revive it later.

But what of moss as a design tool? The Japanese use moss to interpret nature, a fundamental part of their gardening. It is grown and shaped into thick, sprawling carpets or modern geometric forms, depending on the gardener's interpretive style. Moss is also used to impose a sense of maturity on Japanese gardens. While only the passing of time adds true age to a garden, careful moss placement will diminish the immature look of a recently planted plot. Garden designer Junko Liesfeld of Montpelier, Virginia, has used moss in her own garden for a naturalistic effect, under hedges, on rocks and along paths.

Liesfeld also likes to introduce moss in place of grass in small gardens. "So many people today have a tiny yard adjacent to a townhouse or condominium. A thick carpet of moss has a rich textured look that I prefer to grass." Add one or two well-placed trees and a few beautiful rocks and you have an inviting yet spare design that works within the small space.

Using Moss as an Alternative to the Grass Lawn

There are various types of moss plants, and their taxonomies differ. A couple of examples are Sphagnum cymbifolium for sphagnum and Polytrichum juniperinum for haircap.

Moss plants are classified as Bryophyta, making them distinct from most vegetation you will find in your yard. They develop spores rather than seeds for reproduction, and they do not possess true roots, instead deriving their nutrients and moisture from the air.

Because they are low-growing and can form dense mats, these shade plants can be considered an alternative ground cover for landscaping and planted as "shade gardens," in lieu of traditional (that is, grass) lawns.

Using Moss as a Design Element

Using moss in coastal gardens takes a cue from nature.

Mosses, the oldest living terrestrial plants on earth, carpet the nooks and crannies of the Pacific Northwest. Its lush growth can be found in abundance in Oregon's coastal forests and sometimes in our gardens.

Many gardeners consider moss an invasive plant. Another school of thought finds these simple plants add an element of tranquil beauty to the garden. Who hasn't wandered a forest trail, marveling at the velvety green blanket on rocks and logs? That same beauty can be incorporated in almost any coastal garden.

Lacking roots and obtaining nutrients from only rainfall and sunlight, mosses can grow on any hard surface, and are often seen on tree bark, rocks and other solid areas. As a result, mosses are ideal for adding a luscious green look to any garden or as a sustainable alternative for grass.

Re-imagine the lawn. Political leanings aside, traditional lawns need chemicals to thrive, consume a lot of water, require a lot of care and sometimes just aren't the right fit. Moss growing in turf grass is often thought of as a lawn pest, but that is not the case. Moss grows in sites where grass has difficulty growing. Rather than using lots of chemicals to kill the moss already growing there, consider increasing your garden's biodiversity and letting Mother Nature take her course. Moss is an excellent, low-maintenance ground cover requiring no mowing, thatching or fertilizing.

Mosses by their very nature, have the ability to accent many garden styles. They combine wonderfully with ferns and evergreen ground covers in the shady garden. Using moss in your garden landscaping between paving stones on walkways and patios creates a sense of permanence and tranquility. On stone fountains, ornaments and boulders these heroic little plants give any garden an ancient appeal.

Utilizing moss in your landscape will require an initial time investment and a little patience. It may take several growing seasons for a moss lawn to fully fill in, or for garden objects to be blanketed in green. With cultivation and care, moss will enhance and enrich your coastal garden with many years of beautiful rewards.

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Building-friendly features

Outdoor green walls and facades have been found to be energy cost effective as their plants reduce the overall temperatures of buildings when exposed to the sun. Furthermore, they also reduce the amount of heat escaping during wintertime.

In addition, the transpiration process of plants can slightly reduce temperatures indoors as well, thus also working as an energy cost effective solution. Sufficient amount of plant matter also helps reduce noise levels.

Green Wall Smart & Active Green Wall Facade
Visual element
Biophilic effects
Improved acoustics
Air purification
Insulation (outdoors)

What types of green walls are there?

As mentioned above, there are all sorts of green walls. The solutions vary between indoor and outdoor spaces, sizes, and models, among other things. Moreover, the design and production of all types of green walls is constantly developing, providing even more options for various purposes. This article covers what we consider to be the main archetypes.

Indoors or outdoors

Outdoor and indoor green walls are used for different purposes and in various environments. They can be made of a range of materials and plants, depending on the most suitable solution for each space.

Outdoor green walls are primarily visual elements. Although they can also be cost effective in that they reduce overall temperatures, capture rainwater or insulate buildings, they are mostly used to bring greenery into urban landscapes. The construction of these living walls has restrictions in terms of the climate, as they have to endure their surrounding circumstances, which may sometimes take a toll on the structure and plants of the wall.

CaixaForum, Paseo del Prado, Madrid. (Mike Dixon / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Indoor green walls, however, have more limitations in terms of their size, as they have to fit the space they are in. Because of said limitations, they are often easier to maintain, though.

Smart and active green walls are only used indoors because their air purification efficiency would not be powerful enough to impact outdoor spaces. Moreover, the plants used in these green walls are tropical and would not survive in most conditions of the outside world when removed from their natural habitat.

Size and design

Naava green wall at Moisio School, Finland.

The design of a living wall is not usually limited by size. Although wide models are easier to maintain than tall ones, the overall design and manufacturing aren’t too dissimilar between differently proportioned products.

Living walls built from metal or plastic modules are usually rectangular, as manufacturing round shapes is harder. Rather, the ideal material for round and varying shapes is felt. In active green walls, air circulation features take priority, thus limiting most designs to solid modules.

Most indoor green walls are wall-mounted, although free-standing and double-sided models are not uncommon either. In terms of commercial green walls, most are custom-made solutions.

What do the plants grow in?

The plants of living walls need a growth medium to root into. The growth medium is usually then placed on a structure (such as bags, pots or boxes), which together form a system. These combinations come in different types, and are generally grouped into four categories: loose, mat, sheet, and structural media systems.

Whereas loose growth medium systems have the soil packed into a shelf or a bag (which are then placed onto a wall), mat media are, as the name implies, mat systems, usually made of thin coir fiber or felt. The plants root themselves directly onto the mat and require no loose media (such as soil). Sheet media are akin to mat systems, but consist of patterned inorganic polyurethane sheets more endurant than coir fiber or felt. Structural media combine the loose and mat systems by forming a block that can be made in different shapes and sizes. For example: the greenery can be planted into loose media, placed into pots and laden onto a wall structure with a built-in irrigation.

In loose media systems, soil, hydro stone, volcanic stone, and hydroponics are common ways of growing plants. The selection of loose growth media has grown immensely within the past five years.

Loose growth media require structural support: soil, stone, and water are typically placed into felt bags or plastic pots. Mats allow the plants to be grown directly into them.

Growth media used in conventional green walls tend to be rockwool or soil. These are the most traditionally used materials in the plant industry as hydroponics is considered challenging due to many variables connected to water quality. Most green wall manufacturers use standard growth media available on the markets.

Growth media in active green walls differ from those in regular ones. They require an optimized material to achieve sufficient airflow as well as stable and well functioning microbial communities and water systems.

The growth medium, supporting systems and structures, as well as plants have to work in unison. This means that the selection of media cannot be made in vacuum, disconnected from other factors.

What plants can be used?

The stars of the show are the plants. Again, different types of vegetation can be used, however, there are some restrictions depending on the type and purpose of the green wall.

Plants for living walls, such as: heartleaf philodendron (philodendron scandens), clusia rosea, and bird’s nest fern (asplenium antiquum).

Indoors are more lenient for plant selections

While not a requirement, evergreen plants are usually preferred for both indoor and outdoor walls due to their longevity and looks. By definition, evergreen plants have to keep their leaves all year round. Naturally, this limits the selection of plants available.

The most suitable options for indoor green walls are houseplants and tropical plants. Plants generally used for indoor walls do not have to tolerate major temperature changes, though humidity still varies and may cause issues if not accounted for.

Heartleaf philodendron, an evergreen plant native to southeastern Brazil.

However, some manufacturers resort to using chemically treated moss or plastic plants, which trade other benefits (such as air purification) for easier upkeep.

Naturally growing outdoor moss wall in Jinguashi, Taiwan. (Fred Hsu / CC BY-SA 3.0)

For active green walls the process of selecting the right plant species is even more rigorous than for passive green walls. This is due to the air circulation of the active green wall, which can be quite taxing on the plants. Thus, plants have to be tested in order to make sure they can survive in an active green wall.

Consider circumstances and purposes

Location and available technology have a grave impact on the selection of plant species for outdoor green walls. For instance, the walls may require plants which can survive periods of drought due to lack of rainwater and built-in irrigation systems.

Outdoor weather circumstances also affect plants indoors, as drier than usual air causes the plants to use more water in order to maintain the optimal level of humidity. In tall facades and outdoor green walls, the wind, sunlight, and rainfall conditions may be rougher on the greenery higher up than closer to the streets.

Succulents store water in their leaves, making them an adept choice for arid climates or when irrigation is not available. (Nate Conklin / CC BY 3.0)

Additionally, the choice of growth medium and irrigation go hand in hand with the selection of plants. For instance, the roots of some plants may not be big and strong enough to thrive in media other than soil. For other plant species, quickly drying growth media are more optimal choices than soil.

Moreover, the key to maintaining plants’ health is to create a stable environment for them. Sudden changes may cause the plants unnecessary stress, which may then lead to problems such as diseases or pests.

When selecting plants for a smart and active green wall, extra attention is paid to the resilience of the plants. This is because the air circulation of the green wall can be tough on them, as mentioned in the previous section. In addition, each plant’s air purification efficiency is taken into consideration. Different plants break down different chemicals from the air with the microbes of their roots.

The right kind of irrigation, regular nourishment, light, and temperature go a long way in making sure the plants stay vital. Maintaining them by trimming also helps to make the plants live longer. Smart and active green walls can also optimize the aforementioned factors to make sure the plants have the best possible living conditions.

Health & maintenance of a living wall

Maintenance at work. The higher the wall, the trickier it gets to maintain it.

In order to stay healthy to serve their purpose, both green walls and smart and active green walls need upkeep. Like all living plants, greenery in plant walls requires periodical replacements to compensate for plant loss.

In loose and structural media solutions, replacing plants is generally straightforward. In mat media systems however, replacing plant matter is more problematic: lost sections often have to be cut off. Removing these sections may cause extra plant loss due to greenery having spread their roots into the removed area.

Moreover, water is vital for the survival of the plants, which is why most plant walls have integrated irrigation systems to make it easier to take care of the plants. The plants also need basic nutrients, which are usually received through irrigation.

The irrigation systems are typically either recirculating or direct systems. A recirculating system circulates the water, pumping and distributing it from a built-in tank. The tank can be either filled manually or connected to a building’s water supply.

Meanwhile, a direct irrigation system gets the water from an external water source. Whereas recirculating systems collect excess water for reuse, direct systems send the excess water to a sewer drain.

For a green wall to function as it should, all of its mechanisms need to work properly. In addition to plants, irrigation, and growth media, the remote monitoring systems may also need maintenance at times in case of an error. This is why regular maintenance is needed to make sure everything runs smoothly and effortlessly.

Acquiring your own green wall

As with most things, added features are always tradeoffs. Features, such as the shape, size, and material choices inevitably affect the cost of all green walls. The more complex and customized the product, the more expensive the price tag.

The underlying issue is generally not in the design, but rather in logistics and economies of scale.

Smart and active green walls are not an exception to the above, but respectively offer greater returns and value over time than mere visual elements.

Defining your needs, wishes, and budget is crucial - which solution meets your needs?

Decorate your workspace

Naava offers smart and active green walls with a wide set of features, including lush living plants, effortless maintenance, optimized air humidity, and air biofiltration.

If you would like to know more, the above benefits, our models, and other relevant information have been summarized into an easily digestible package - the Naava product brochure.

  • Improved employee retention
  • Improved health
  • Increased mood and feeling of well-being
  • Improved productivity
  • Increased employee engagement
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Mental restoration & reduced fatigue
  • Air purifying

Although it’s not alive the moss is a natural product that absorbs moisture. Through a constant cycle of absorption and release of ambient moisture, airborne particles are removed.

Design Your Own Metal Carport Using A 3D Builder From A Eugene OR Manufacturer

A metal building can serve as a carport, storage room, workshop, or shed. This Oregon company has a 3D design tool that you can use to customize your own steel structure.

If you’re planning to add a steel building to your property, you’d surely want to view the design before the project starts. What if you can come up with the layout yourself?

Oregon Carports, a Eugene-based manufacturer of standalone metal structures, lets you do this using their 3D configurator design tool. The browser-based application allows you to customize your metal building order and submit the resulting design to secure an official price quote.

Through the 3D configurator, you can better ensure that every element of the structure will be suitable for your intended application, whether you’re looking to build a garage, boat or RV cover, workshop, or storage room.

To get started, you can choose from an array of building styles, such as standard, triple-wide, wide span deluxe style, garage, utility, AG barn, horse barn, and straight-line barn. You can also pick the type of installation surface, roof-style, and center storage that you wish to use.

The tool has several other sections that allow further modifications to the design, including the size, sides, ends, doors, windows, frame outs, colors, and additional options. As the configurator displays a 3D render of the structure, the customizations can be viewed in real-time.

Upon confirming your order and paying a small deposit, you may expect a welcome call from one of the company’s representatives within 10 days. A separate call will be made to schedule the installation, which is done onsite and free of charge if you’re located anywhere in Oregon.

Construction is typically completed on the day of the scheduled build. Only in rare cases does it take more than a day, usually when a very large or highly customized structure is involved.

Oregon Carports backs their products with a 20-year warranty so you can rest assured of your building’s durability and workmanship. Manufactured out of American steel, the metal structures are engineer-certified and guaranteed to be able to withstand winds of up to 90 MPH.

A spokesperson from the company states, “Our goal is to give our customers the best experience and prices. All of our buildings are delivered and installed at no additional cost. If you have any questions about our carports, metal shelters, or wide-span buildings, our building specialists are ready to help you.”

Flex Element

Polarmoss Flex Elements are a contemporary and classy way to bring a touch of nature indoors by creating unique surfaces from them.

Lightweight Flex Elements are extremely easy and quick to install seamlessly even on large walls. The fastener hook tape installation method offers limitless re-variation possibilities.

Whether used in private residences or public spaces, Polarmoss Flex Elements add an impressive dimension to any space. The available colors offer possibilities to design solutions with a variety of styles and tones. Individual artistic solu- tions are endless, created by using multiple colors of Flex Elements.

Watch the video: Murray Moss On Good Taste. MOSS: Dialogues Between Art u0026 Design

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