Peat moss is mined from decomposed sphagnum moss which is present underwater in peat bogs. Many gardeners use it to amend soil but are not sure if it’s beneficial to grass. So, is peat moss good for grass?
Yes, peat moss is beneficial to grass in several ways. It helps soil to retain moisture and nutrients, prevent soil compaction and does not contain any harmful pathogens. However, it lacks nutrients, too acidic and require use of other soil amendments along with it.
Is peat Moss Good for Grass?
Peat moss has both advantages and disadvantages when incorporated to your lawn soil. So, let’s have a look at each of them and weigh in to see if it’s good for grass:
Advantage of Using Peat Moss on Your Lawn
Many gardeners use peat moss in their garden as potting mix and for soil amendment. It is a common ingredient used to improve quality of the soil. Here are some of its benefits for grass:
1. Soil moisture retention
Peat moss has a good water retention capacity. It can hold several times of its weight in water. This is why many gardeners use it as potting mix. If incorporated in soil when planting your grass, it reduces the amount of water and frequency required to irrigate your lawn.
2. Retains soil nutrients
Essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other macronutrients leach out of the soil gradually when you water. Incorporating peat moss into your soil can help to retain these nutrients for long to benefit the grass. Therefore, it help to reduces frequency of fertilizing your lawn.
3. Prevents soil compaction
It’s difficult for water and nutrients to penetrate through compact soil to reach your plant’s roots. It will also cause your grass to develop shallow roots. Incorporating peat moss in your lawn soil will help to prevent compactness of heavy soil as well as need of often aeration.
4. Last longer in the soil
Peat moss take centuries to decompose underwater in a bog anaerobically. If added to the soil, it will continue to break down slowly as compared to other organic materials. A single application can serve you for more than two years.
5. It’s sterile
Before peat moss is distributed to the stores, it has to be sterilized. Therefore, it is free from bacteria, fungi and weed seed. Other organic matter such as compost are not sterile. They have a risk of contaminating your soil with these pathogens.
Disadvantage of Using Peat Moss on Your Lawn
Peat moss mining process has environmental degradation effects. May gardeners don’t use this product due to this problem and other negatives as follows:
1. It’s too acidic for grass
Peat moss has a pH range of 3.5 to 6 depending on where it was mined. This range is too acidic for most plants including grass. Most turf thrives in a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. Anything above or below this range can cause your grass to have poor growth.
2. It’s poor in beneficial nutrients
Peat moss helps to retain soil nutrients but barely contain nutrients of itself. It lack nutrients that are present in other organic matter like compost. Therefore, you have to use other soil amendments along with it.
3. It’s expensive
Peat moss is expensive as compared to other organic soil amendments such as compost. Most peat moss used in the United States of America, is shipped from Canada. Therefore, the price include shipment and other taxes.
When should I put Peat Moss on my Lawn?
Incorporate peat moss in soil when starting your lawn grass. It’s a good ingredient to mix with soil prior to planting grass seed since it’s sterile. It does not contaminate soil with fungi, bacteria of weed seed that is usually common with use of other organic matter.
Apply peat moss when starting your lawn will also help to improve drainage. If the soil is sandy or too porous, peat moss will help to retain water. It has the ability to hold water as well as promoting healthy development of roots.
It’s recommended to water a seeded lawn frequently until they germinate. Irrigation water can leach nutrients deeper into the soil beyond reach of the newly germinated grass seedling. Mixing the soil thoroughly with peat moss can help to prevent these nutrients from leaching.
Mixing soil with peat moss before planting will also help to reduce compaction. It will allow newly germinated seedlings to develop healthy roots and penetrate deep into the soil surface.
How to Apply Peat Moss to Lawn
Here are steps on how to plant new grass with peat moss:
Prepare your lawn by clearing bushes, removing sticks, stones and other debris. Turn the soil to a depth of 6 inches with a garden tiller. Break the large clods and loosen the soil. Level the lawn, fill the deeps with soil and remove large clods with a rake.
Apply 2 inches of peat moss evenly on the surface of the soil. Use a garden tiller to incorporate it into the loose top 6 inches of soil. Be sure to mix it thoroughly with soil.
Fertilize the soil with starter fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Starter fertilizer should contain high nitrogen and phosphorus ratio to boost the initial growth and to encourage proper root development.
Plant grass seed on your lawn with help of a spreader. Pour grass seed into the spreader, set the flow rate as recommended on the package and apply it on the soil.
Alternatively, pour half of grass seed into the spreader. Apply it moving from north to south direction of your lawn. Pour the second half into the spreader and apply from east to west direction. Do not allow the rows to overlap each other.
Cover the seed with light layer of soil. Use the back of your garden rake to cover the seed lightly. Be sure not to cover the seeds with more than one-quarter inch of soil as it can prevent even germination. Alternatively, you can use a lawn roller to press the seed into the soil.
Water the seeded area deep and evenly with garden hose or sprinkler. Continue to water daily until the seed will germinate. Most grass varieties usually germinate with 7 to 14 days. Do not water excessively to create a surface runoff as it can sweep away the seed.
Continue to take care of your newly established lawn. Supplement rain with about 1 inch of water in dry weather. As the grass grow, decrease frequency and amount of water gradually. This helps to promote healthy and deep roots growth.
Peat moss is good for your grass. It help to retain soil moisture, prevent nutrients from leaching fast, loosen the soil, last long in the soil and does not contaminate the soil with pathogens as it’s the case with other organic matter such as compost.
However, it is recommended to conduct a soil pH before and after using peat moss. If the pH is decreasing, it means the acidity is high. If this happen, simply add lime to decrease acidity.