Get Aboard the Moss Wall Trend in 2019

moss wall designMoss walls are all the rage right now and I’m not seeing any reason why that trend would not continue.

They are a great alternative to a live plant wall when space, light, and the other necessary components needed for optimum results—water, electricity, drainage, additional lighting, professional maintenance—are not readily available.

Since you can install these greens on the wall, moss is a nice space-saving up-sell. The biophilic concept of bringing nature indoors and mimicking that good feeling of being on a trail hike, climbing, or biking up some uneven woodland terrace, all promote a heightened sense of focus and awareness. These feelings take us outside of the daily worries and ruminations crowding our heads.

Moss Wall Design

The sky is the limit when designing and introducing the moss concept to your client. It’s truly a piece of art with an organic and, sometimes, unusual twist.  You can use one type of moss and create undulations that look like the mountainous regions of a topography map. Or you might incorporate other varieties of moss as well as branches, lichen, mushroom fungi, ferns, and other small live plants, creating a temperate rainforest vibe. Tillandsias or “airplants” are a favorite addition and bring layers of texture to this natural look.

Moss Wall Maintenance

moss wallI’m kind of a stickler for staying within what would typically grow in its habitat. I would keep all the elements as true as possible. The fact is, most mosses have been treated. Fumigated to eliminate insects and parasites, then color treated and preserved with a glycerin like solution to keep them supple.

Mosses treated in this way need an environment that has, at minimum, 40% humidity to maintain that supple, fresh appearance.

The live mosses also need optimum conditions to thrive. They typically grow in a relatively moist, shady environment, spreading along nooks and under crannies between rocks and along escarpment walls. Indirect light, airflow, steady temperatures, plus misting, will make these walls successful.

My experience with designing and installing moss walls has always been received with positive feedback. Each one we’ve created is unique to its own environment. For both my clients and myself, half the fun is designing what would fit and offer aesthetic and beneficial value to all whom encounter it.

moss wall artMoss Wall Challenges

Normal challenges are design and installation costs. The main thing to consider is what substrate to use when building the project, and whether the client will want a frame around the wall as well. If you are adding the moss wall during new construction, sometimes you can ask the existing millwork supplier to build a special frame. Depending on the size of the wall, this frame needs to be adequate to support the weight of the moss over time.

Moss Wall Invoices

Determining what variety of moss/mosses are used, additional elements, plus hours spent assembling, delivery, installation hardware, and equipment create your invoice. As with anything that is one of a kind, you can command anywhere from $45 -$250 a square foot. Educating your client about the value of this creative, time consuming, material intensive endeavor is key.

A metal or wood frame will need to be priced out according to the size of the project. I often search
Instagram for local craftsmen and women (social media is quite helpful!). Instagram allows me to see their work and, by searching local, I can even go visit the places to see the moss walls in person if needed.

Adding a quarterly or bi-yearly maintenance option for the moss wall is a good idea if there will be any element changes and upgrades. Nature, like the seasonal landscape, is always changing. Nothing stays stagnant. So incorporating a rotation of some sort, even if it’s only subtle, keeps the moss wall interesting.

Lastly, think ahead about people touching the moss wall. Especially those of curious children. You might moss wall installationconsider making a miniature framed model to set in front of the larger moss piece to keep intrigued fingers from touching and damaging the main attraction.

Sources for Mosses, Lichen, Mushroom Fungi, Preserved Amaranthus, Preserved Seed Pods, and other preserved botanicals:

  • Mountain Farms
  • Super Moss
  • Natural Botanicals
  • Schusters of Texas
  • NewPro
  • ByNature.

Robbin Voight is a 30 year veteran of the plantscape and horticulture industry. Her horticultural consulting service is based in Georgetown, Texas. She is an active trail guide at several preserves in Austin, and a hobby naturalist. Robbin is a Registered Green Plants for Green Buildings Trainer looking forward to presenting the accredited 'Advanced Living Walls' continuing education course and 'The Economics of Biophilic Design' to architects and interior designers across North America. You can reach her at [email protected]

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