How to Use Sphagnum Peat

Overview

Gardeners often use soil additives to improve growing conditions in both gardens and containers. This involves mixing in amendments, much like adding ingredients for a recipe. The addition of sphagnum peat increases organic content in the garden and improves water retention. This versatile soil conditioner derives from decomposed sphagnum moss mined in bogs in Canada and the Midwestern United States. Gardeners know the very best soil creates abundant blooms and vegetables.

Step 1

Turn over the top 12 inches of soil with a shovel or tiller to modify the soil in a garden plot. It's far easier to amend the soil in an empty garden. Add 3 to 4 inches of sphagnum peat moss to the surface of the garden. Mix the peat into the topsoil layers to improve soil quality.

Step 2

Mix 1/4 part sphagnum peat with three parts potting soil to modify the soil in containers and pots. Peat provides excellent water-retention properties in container plant environments. Peat also moderates soil nutrient consumption over time and helps prevent leaching of these nutrients out through the bottom of the planter.

Step 3

Pour 2 to 3 inches of peat into your flowerbeds, and work it into the existing soil, as you plant your annuals and perennials. Turn over the soil using a shovel. Proceed with planting your annuals and perennials as you normally would. This method allows you to amend the soil around each plant and increase the organic material in an already established garden.

Step 4

Turn over the soil 3 to 6 feet when planting trees and shrubs and add about 2 inches of peat. Turn over the soil again and dig the planting hole about three times the size of the root ball. Pile the soil onto a tarp and add additional peat to the soil pile for pouring into the hole as you backfill. Add this soil mixture during plant placement and filling to help break up clay soils and encourage aeration to allow proper outward root growth.

Step 5

Dump a few bags of sphagnum peat into your home compost pile. The peat absorbs excess water and helps reduce the inevitable bad smells of a compost pile.

Step 6

Use sphagnum peat pods for starting vegetable and annual seeds. Once the seedlings sprout, simply transplant the entire pod into the garden soil to add organic material.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Tiller (optional)
  • Sphagnum peat

References

  • University of Vermont Extension
  • Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association

Who Can Help

  • Tips for Using Peat in Your Gardens
Keywords: sphagnum peat, peat, uses for sphagnum peat

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with over three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various websites and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.