An Introduction to Peat Moss

If you are looking to increase the overall health of your plants, then consider using peat moss. It is usually inexpensive and easy to find. A type of moss naturally occurring in wetland areas, it is beneficial to your garden or farm in many ways. It can be used as a soil amendment, potting material, or on grass and lawns. It is a rich source of organic matter which improves the overall health of soil.

Peat Moss as an Amendment

When peat moss is used as an amendment, it loosens compacted soils and enhances aeration. A natural source of nutrients and valuable microbes, it also improves water retention in soil. It is an excellent mulch for garden beds and around trees and shrubs. It also diminishes weeds while keeping soil cool and moist. An excellent tool for starting seeds and cultivating plants, peat moss is helpful in beginning a garden.

Benefits of Peat Moss

This popular top dressing has many beneficial traits. Formed by dead plants decomposing in waterlogged conditions, it is naturally spongy and absorbent. This means it has a high water-holding capacity, perfect for soil amendment in gardens and farms. It may prevent soil erosion and improve drainage. Peat moss is also high in acidity, which is especially helpful for certain types of plants. These particular plants include orchids, Venus flytraps, and ferns.

Usage as a Potting Material

Peat moss is also used as an effective potting mix ingredient. As a potting material, it keeps roots moist and cool while preventing overwatering. With its high carbon content and sponginess, it is very good at holding water and nutrients. Because it also decomposes relatively slowly, it improves the long-term fertility of soils. Since it is very acidic, it is best mixed with compost or coarse sand.

About the Author

Noah Hewitt is a college student studying English at the University of Kentucky. He is passionate about good writing that creates a connection with readers. Noah currently resides in New Jersey.

Usage on Grass and Lawns

Another use of peat moss is for grass and lawns. Being very light and airy, it is an ideal top dressing. By holding moisture in the soil, it protects your grass in hot, dry summers. It is an organic material that can also be applied in late fall given that the lawn is cleared. In sandy soils, peat moss is effective in maintaining moisture as well.

Furthermore, peat moss is very effective as a soil amendment for grass seedlings. Since it is light and fluffy, the grass seedlings push through it and are established smoothly. Before you plant, you may mix it with grass seedlings to incorporate these benefits into your lawn. Alternatively, you can apply a layer over the grass seeds after planting. Regardless, the it contributes to a healthy lawn. Given how it decomposes slowly, it is certain to provide these benefits for many years.

How to Use Peat Moss with a Landzie Spreader

Sometimes, peat moss is difficult to work with. Because it is light and fluffy, it easily blows away in windy conditions. If you have a lawn that you want to spread peat moss on, you should do it in early spring. The perfect timing is while the grass is just beginning to green up.  Give it time to settle into the soil before growing is underway for best results.

Before you spread however, it is advised to first calculate how much top dressing is needed. Multiply the square footage of your lawn by the desired depth of the top dressing.  After the amount is determined, you know how much to purchase.

The next step is to set up your Landzie Spreader.   No assembly or instructions are required!  After setting up your Landzie Spreader, fill it up.  Try to evenly distribute the top dressing throughout the Spreader basket.  Make sure the Landzie is full, and then start spreading from one end of your lawn. With slow and even passes back and forth, it’s easy to cover your entire lawn. In order to ensure even coverage, overlap each pass slightly.

More Interesting Facts

Because of the natural process in which it is created, you cannot create your own peat moss. It is formed when dead plant material accumulates and decomposes in wet areas. After a while, this decomposing plant material progresses to a spongy and thick layer of moss. Additionally, it serves as an important pillar of ecosystems. It regulates water levels and provides a home for small animals and insects. 

Alternatives

There also exists some alternatives top dressings and mulches. Firstly, coco coir provides many similar benefits. Made from the husks of coconuts, coco coir is an excellent growing aid which is used in place of other popular mulches and top dressings.  It is also a renewable and sustainable resource. Secondly, compost is another alternative. Rich in nutrients and helpful in soil structure, compost is often substituted for other top dressings as well. Simply use it like any other top dressing or mix it into the soil to improve plant growth.

Lastly, two other alternatives are the minerals vermiculite and perlite. Vermiculite helps improve drainage in potting mixes with its high water-holding capacity. Perlite provides aeration to a potting mix with its lightweight nature. Both vermiculite and perlite are commonly found in garden centers. 

Canada

A place where peat moss is readily abundant is Canada. Used in horticulture, it can be found in many areas of Canada. These include Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. The northwestern Canadian territories such as Nunavut and their bogs, fens, and marshes all readily contain it as well. Wet and humid areas are breeding grounds for the moss.

Environmental Concerns

While peat contributes to the healthiness of the environment, it is also a source of environmental concern. Despite decomposing organic matter and supplying nutrients, it also releases large amounts of carbon dioxide. This occurs when it decomposes and contributes to climate change. Methane gas is released in the decomposition process. Dried out, it is also a potential fire hazard. When on fire, it releases smoke and pollutants that are harmful to human health, so it is recommended to not burn it.

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