Is Peat Moss a Good Soil Amendment for Lawns?

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Soil amendments like peat moss can help you grow a healthier lawn.
Soil amendments like peat moss can help you grow a healthier lawn. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Growing a healthy lawn results from a variety of efforts, such as proper watering, fertilizing on a regular scheduling, controlling weed growth and mowing. Adding soil amendments is helpful to increase the soil’s ability to retain water and aid in the aeration of heavy soils. Peat moss is an inexpensive soil amendment useful for large areas like residential lawns.

Choosing Soil Amendments

Common soil amendments used in lawns and gardens include compost, processed manures, peat moss, hay, dried leaves and sawdust. Soil amendments help to break up clay soils and increase the water-holding ability of sandy soils. Some soil amendments, like compost, add nutrients to the soil. Others, like peat, have low nutritional levels. Lay a 1- to 2-inch layer on top of the soil and work it in to a depth of 3 to 6 inches for best results, according to the University of California Guide To Healthy Lawns site.

Benefits of Adding Peat Moss

Peat moss is readily available for use as a lawn soil amendment. It has a low decomposition rate in the soil, which means you do not have to reapply frequently. It is relatively inexpensive, so can be used to amend soil in large areas like lawns. Peat moss has good water-holding capability and does not add excessive amounts of nitrogen that can burn plant roots when used with fertilizer, according to University of Missouri specialist Manjula V. Nathan. Add it to sandy soil areas to help them hold water better and to clay soils to provide more texture to break up clods so that air and water can penetrate more easily.

Problems of Adding Peat Moss

Because peat moss does not contain much nutrient quality for lawn grass, you must apply additional fertilizer on a regular basis. Peat moss also has a pH of 3.6 to 4.2 which makes it an acidic compound that further can intensify the acidic of acidic soils. Turfgrass prefers a pH of 6.0 to 7.0, so acidifying the soil in lawn areas that are already slightly acidic may have a detrimental effect on grass plant growth.

Special Considerations

Peat moss can be effective when used in specific circumstances, such as when germinating new grass seed or seeding to fill in bare areas. It also can be used to prevent fungus disease, according to Alabama Cooperative Extension writer Chazz Hesselein. Watering, fertilizing and mulching with peat moss is effective in combating the take-all root-rot fungus, which attacks St. Augustine grass throughout the South.

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