Peat moss is a mixture of mosses and decomposing material that makes a water-retaining addition to garden soil. While planting in pure peat moss is possible, other amendments are usually added to add additional drainage and nutrients to the plants. Peat moss is not just absorbent---it releases its moisture slowly so roots don't drown. It also is light and aids in aeration of the soil around the roots, which keeps the other soil components from becoming compressed around the roots.
Fill a bucket with peat moss and add enough water to soak it thoroughly. Mix the peat and water together, and let sit for one hour to absorb as much moisture as possible. Pour off the excess water.
Mix one part peat moss and one part perlite together---the perlite aids with drainage. Add one part compost to the mix for established potted plants or one part vermiculite for a sterile mix for seedlings.
Add a slow release houseplant fertilizer to the mixture and combine well. Follow label instructions for the amount of fertilizer, as this differs by brand.
Fill planting pots to within 2 inches of their rims. Water the peat moss soil mixture until water comes out the drainage holes before planting seeds or plants.
Lay 2 inches of peat moss on top of the prepared area for new garden beds. Lay a 3-inch layer if you have particularly sandy soil.
Till the peat moss into the soil with a power tiller, shovel or hoe. Work the peat moss into the top 8 inches of soil.
Water the new bed lightly each day for one to two weeks prior to planting. Use a mister attachment to wet the top 2 inches of the newly peated bed so it absorbs and retains the moisture.
Amend existing beds with peat moss. Lay a 1-inch layer around plants and dig into the soil with a hand-held spade. Work it into the top 6 inches of soil, taking care not to damage the roots of surrounding plants as you do so.
About this Author
Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.