Peat moss is great at retaining moisture and aerating your soil, but it comes at a cost. Peat moss is up to 100 times more acidic than your soil. Applying it to your grass will increase soil acidity. This acidity hinders grass growth, encourages weeds, and reduces the population of helpful earthworms in your lawn.
- Peat moss delivers small benefits of moisture retention, fertilizer, and verification.
- Peat moss is extremely acidic. It can acidify the soil, making grass struggle, causing weeds to thrive, and killing off beneficial earthworms.
- Reducing soil acidity caused by peat moss requires applications of lime.
- Use low-acid compost and natural fertilizers instead of peat moss.
Instead of sphagnum moss, use compost, straw, shredded leaves, or grass clippings as a top dressing to feed your soil. These soil amendments won’t damage your yard the way peat moss will. Peat moss leads to more work in the long term. Acidic soil caused by peat moss must be treated with lime in order to revive your lawn and drive out weeds.
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Why You Should Not Use Peat Moss
Not only does peat moss disrupt your soil’s pH balance, requiring you to add lime to reduce acidity, it’s also terrible for the environment. Peat moss grows extremely slowly (1 millimeter per year) and is harvested by draining wetlands to harvest thousands of years of moss growth at once. This destroys natural habitats for birds, fish, and other animals. Peat moss simply isn’t a great fertilizer for grass and is not worth the environmental destruction.
Alternatives to Peat Moss for Your Grass
Instead of peat moss, opt for organic matter top dressing to fertilize existing grass or cover grass seed. Some good options are:
- A high-quality organic compost
- Worm castings
- Shredded leaves
- Grass clippings
- Natural, sustainable fertilizer, such as Milorganite
Each of these soil amendments will break down quickly, feeding your lawn without boosting soil acidity or decimating the earthworm population. Using homemade compost will allow you to recycle grass clippings, leaves, and organic materials to create nutrient-rich lawn food at an extremely low cost.
What’s The Difference Between Peat Moss and Compost?
Peat moss is made from sphagnum moss harvested by draining peat bogs. Compost is made by combining organic matter (plant material) with manure. The nitrogen in the manure speeds up the decomposition of the plant material, resulting in a fast-decomposing fertilizer.
- Peat moss is harvested from drained wetlands.
- Peat moss is not a sustainable resource because it grows so slowly.
- Compost is partially decomposed plant matter (leaves, grass, straw, etc.) combined with a nitrogen source, such as manure.
- Compost is sustainable and cheap.
Because of the cost and labor involved in harvesting peat moss, it can be much more expensive per pound than compost. You can get more benefits from compost than from peat moss, and at a lower price.
Should You Cover New Grass Seed With Peat Moss?
Many old school lawn care guides advise tilling peat moss into the soil before seeding. This is done with the aim of retaining water around grass seeds to increase germination. However, the high acid content of the peat moss can hinder grass germination. Additionally, if there is too much peat moss in the soil, the additional water can cause seeds to rot instead of sprout.
- The natural acidity of peat moss may hinder grass seed germination.
- Moisture retained by peat moss may rot grass seeds.
- For best results, till compost or straw into the soil, then seed.
To provide an energy boost to seeds, till compost into the soil before seeding. Then, cover the seeds with a thin top dressing of compost or straw. This will provide initial fertilizer for the seeds and help keep the soil moist to ensure the highest percentage of seeds germinate.
Is Peat Moss Good for Lawns
Peat moss is extremely acidic. Adding it to your lawn will increase soil acidity that will cancel out its benefits as an organic matter fertilizer. Grass struggles in acidic soil, but several species of weeds (such as dandelions) thrive in acidic conditions. If you use peat moss to attempt to fertilize your lawn, you run the risk of harming your grass and encouraging weeds.
You will have much healthier grass and much fewer weed troubles by using compost or natural fertilizer instead of peat moss. With these alternatives to peat moss, you can feed your yard inexpensively and promote long-term grass health.