Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Use Peat Moss When Planting Shrubs

bêche image by Claudio Calcagno from

Creating the best possible home for a new landscape shrub provides the optimum-growing situation. Gardeners use peat moss to boost soil quality. Peat moss adds organic material to soil, increases soil aeration, and provides the slow release of nutrients into the garden bed. The inclusion of peat moss when planting shrubs involves preparing the site to create the best environment to capitalize on this soil additive.

Stir up the planting location by digging deeply into the garden bed to a depth of 12 inches. Turn over the soil using a tiller or shovel in a 3- to 5-foot area around the planting site to eliminate the sharp delineation of soil layers. Loosening the soil allows shrub roots to penetrate and spread easily for faster plant establishment. Cultivating a larger area around the planting site also discourages distinct differences in soil types that can limit root spread to the planting hole.

Rake the planting site to create a level surface. Pour loose peat moss on top of the garden to incorporate up to one-third total volume of organic material to the planting site.

Till or turn over the entire planting area to adequately mix in the peat moss. Aim for even distribution of the soil additive deeply into the previously tilled soil.

Dig a hole two times as wide and one-a-half times as deep as the shrub root ball. Soil should be loose and pliable for easy digging. Set this amended soil to the side of the planting hole for later use as filler around the root ball.

Place the shrub into the planting hole to gauge depth. The root ball should lie no more than 1 inch below the soil surface. Fill in around the roots with amended soil. Do not add peat moss to the hole without tilling the surrounding garden bed. Peat will absorb moisture within a planting hole or when placed on the soil surface. Tilling the surrounding planting bed to distribute the peat moss encourages even distribution throughout the potential root zone of the shrub.


Peat moss isn't the only option for improving soil quality before shrub planting. Compost is considerably cheaper in cost and performs the same functions to add organic matter to the soil. Peat humus is the highest quality peat material available for improving garden soil.

Garden Guides