Peat Moss for Overseeded Lawn

Peat moss can be a dangerous solution to your lawn’s problems, but it can be used effectively in some cases. Particularly those who have neutral or alkaline lawns that need a lot of added acidity to keep their grass healthy. 

It’s a quick and easy method of boosting your lawn’s acidity, which may be ideal for different grass types.

Peat Moss can be used on an overseeded lawn providing the grass and seed can handle the high levels of acidity that the peat moss will provide. 

What is Peat Moss Used For?

Peat moss is a naturally occurring resource that is nonrenewable in nature. It is mined from bogs, but due to the millennia it takes to form, it’s unlikely to ever be renewable. Only 0.02% of bogs have been tapped for peat moss mining, but its extraction and processing causes carbon to be released into the atmosphere, even long after the bog has been mined fully. As a result, its usage is somewhat controversial, especially amongst avid gardeners. 

Peat moss is mostly used for potted plants, as its incredibly high levels of acidity are best reserved for plants that need those kinds of conditions in order to thrive. It’s often used in conjunction with potting soil. Peat moss is rarely used on lawns, but it is possible. 

Why Use Peat Moss?

Despite its disadvantages, peat moss also has its fair share of advantages. One such advantage it has is its ability to retain water. Peat moss can hold up to 20x its dry weight in water and can retain it. This is due to the porous nature that the material possesses, and plenty of people who use peat moss do so for this specific purpose and reason. Retaining water is ideal for those living in places prone to drought or who cannot water their garden as often as necessary. It’s also useful for grass seed, as it allows the soil to remain moist and provide seeds with much needed nutrients and water. 

Can You Cover Grass Seed with Peat Moss?

Peat moss can be used to cover grass seed that has been laid to create a new lawn or to small areas which have been sown to bare patches. Covering grass seed is a good practice, regardless of what is being used to cover it. Covering grass seed keeps birds from eating it, and also protects it from the elements. 

Peat moss in particular will help keep the seeds stay moist, due to its high water retention. If your grass seeds are made to withstand the high acidity of peat moss, you’ll find that they’ll germinate and begin to grow faster too. 

How to Cover Grass Seeds With Peat Moss 

Peat moss should work the same way as any other grass seed covering, providing the correct steps are taken beforehand. In fact, one might see additional benefits to using peat moss if it is appropriate for their lawn. 

Prepare the Lawn

The best thing to do before spreading grass seed is to spruce the lawn up. You can do this by dethatching the lawn, clearing up any debris, and ensuring it is trimmed to a reasonable height (often between 2-3”). 

If appropriate, till the lawn, to ensure that the soil is loose. If your lawn is uneven at all, now is the best time to even it out or fill in any holes

Spread the Grass Seed

Spreading the grass seed may be the easiest part of the job. If sowing a small area, you can easily use your hands to sprinkle it evenly across the patch. If sowing a larger area, use a seed spreader to ensure even and uniform spread.

Cover the Grass Seeds 

Use your hands or a spreader to add 1/4 “ of peat moss atop of the seeds. Water gently, twice daily for the first few weeks until seeds germinate. Once germinated, water once daily until the seedlings are fully grown. Overwatering or underwatering are equally dangerous and could lead to grass seed failing to germinate or suffocating. 

person tilling soil with a rototiller

Benefits of Peat Moss

Peat moss is often used on grass for its water retention properties. However, there are additional benefits to using it on grass. 

Water Retention

One of the main benefits of peat moss is its ability to retain water. People tend to use peat moss on soils that are sandy, that have low water retention. Peat moss, as mentioned previously, can hold up to 20x its dry weight in water, meaning it can help soils and grass withstand drought or long periods without being watered. 

Drainage and Aeration

Due to its structure, peat moss remains breathable and its density and layered structure can help drain water from the lawn. This can help reduce fungi from growing in the lawn, which often requires damp, humid conditions which peat moss helps eradicate.

Offers Protection 

Peat moss offers protection from birds and other critters who may attempt to make a meal out of the freshly-sown grass seeds. Covering grass seed in a breathable layer is standard after they have been sown, but peat moss offers additional benefits that other protective layers may lack in 

Pathogen and Weed Free

Because of the way that peat moss is mined, it is both pathogen and weed free. It won’t have any seeds that could lead to weeds developing in your lawn like some other topsoils or protective layers such as compost might. 

However, it’s worth noting that peat moss will increase the pH level of your lawn due to its acidic nature, which may make your lawn the perfect habitat for stubborn weeds like dandelions which thrive in acidic soil. 

Fast Grass Growth

Peat moss can encourage fast grass growth, with its water retention and potentially fast and efficient draining. This is ideal for growing grass, as it ensures that the grass seeds aren’t inhibited or suffocated by a surplus of water which could stunt or stop growth. 

Alternatives to Peat Moss

Peat moss isn’t ideal for every lawn due to the impact it can have on a lawn’s pH balance. If your lawn would not healthily sustain peat moss, there are alternatives that can be used for a similar desired effect.

Straw is usually considered the best alternative to peat moss, due to the fact that it is widely available and inexpensive. It’s also completely neutral, and won’t affect your soil’s pH level in the same way other alternatives might. 

Peat Moss vs Straw

Straw and peat moss are two sides of the same coin. Whilst they can both be used for the same purpose, they each have their own benefits and disadvantages. 

When choosing which type of cover you wish to use for your lawn, take into consideration the many advantages and disadvantages that each product has. Even if you’re set on using peat moss, it isn’t appropriate for all lawns. 

Peat MossStraw
High water retentionLow water retention
Produces more grass sprouts quickerProduces less sprouts slower
Nonrenewable and produces carbonEco-friendly and renewable
Has no weeds or pathogensMay contain weeds or pathogens
Will impact soil pHUnlikely to affect soil pH
Only for use on certain lawnsCan be used safely on most lawns

How Much Peat Moss Should I Use?

Measuring the amount of peat moss that should be used can be an irritating task. This is because too much could negatively impact your lawn, but too little could see birds eating your grass seed or rain and wind blowing it away. Too much of any covering can potentially prevent grass seed from germinating, leaving you back at square one. 

A density of 1/ 4” is ideal for peat moss covering, but if you’re planting grass seed in it then it needs to be mixed approximately 6” deep. 

Learning more about peat moss on lawn can help you work out your measurements more efficiently and effectively. 

Final Thoughts

Peat moss can be a gardener’s dream or worst nightmare depending on their lawn type and how it’s used. Whilst it can be potentially very damaging to a lawn, there are plenty of ways it can be utilized effectively. People use peat moss effectively when overseeding their lawn, as a means of protecting grass seed against birds and harsh weather. If you’re unsure whether peat moss is ideal for your lawn, consult either a specialist or consider using another alternative until you are certain. It is always better safe than sorry, especially in regards to your lawn’s health. 

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