Cover Grass Seed With Peat Moss

How to Cover Grass Seed with Peat Moss (+ why you should)

All grass seed germinates better with a light coating of topsoil, screened compost, or peat moss. It helps keep the seed moist between waterings and protects the seed from being eaten by birds. Peat moss is readily available and is an excellent option, especially when seeding small areas. Keep reading to find my guide for how to cover grass seed with peat moss.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Certified Horticulturist Nicole Forsyth, M.S., and by Horticulturist Arthur Davidson, A.S.

Here’s the most important take-away, and why peat moss is one of my top recommended products for covering grass seed.

Landzie Peat Moss Spreader

Peat moss holds water extremely well, and if you spread it properly (either by hand or with a peat moss roller like this one on Amazon), it can provide the perfect conditions to boost seed germination rates.

But in order to get good results with peat moss and even germination of your seed, there are a few key techniques you’ll need to learn to master.

And I’ll also say that spreading peat moss can be a pretty dusty and dirty job – which is why I recommend most homeowners who are seeding medium to large sized areas invest in a peat moss roller like the one pictured (more on that in a minute).

Let’s explore the best methods to cover grass seed with peat moss. is reader supported. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

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Patented, Proven, Performance Grass Seed.

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Why Use Peat Moss?

One of peat moss’s many strengths is its ready availability. It’s extremely effective at holding moisture, which is beneficial for your lawn.

You can spread peat moss using a peat moss roller or just do it by hand. Peat moss creates excellent conditions for seed germination, so you’re doing your grass seed a favor when applying peat moss as a top layer.

Why Use Peat Moss

Peat moss is produced specifically for gardens. When you apply peat moss, you make your soil better able to drain water appropriately.

This means that it will retain moisture appropriately, letting oxygen get down to the grass’s root system. Peat moss is quite inexpensive and you can find it easily at most garden centers.

Cover your grass seeds or seedlings with a layer of peat moss. This will help protect the seeds or seedlings, stopping them from getting displaced or washed away.

It will also stop grass seed from getting dried out. On top of all that, peat moss provides the soil with extra nutrients that benefit your grass seed.

How Should You Use Peat Moss?

There are two stages at which you can add peat moss. You can add it right after you plant the grass seeds, or you can wait until after the grass seeds has germinated.

How Should I Use Peat Moss

I usually recommend that the peat moss layer should be approximately one quarter of an inch in depth, though Nicole Forsyth, a certified horticulturist and member of our expert panel, recommends that homeowners go even lighter than that, spreading one eighth of an inch “so it does not smother the grass.” She recommends raking the peat moss so it works in between the grass blades and toward the soil below.

After you put down the peat moss, give it a light watering, preferably using a mist from a water sprayer.

After that, remember to water the area twice each day. Continue doing this until you notice the grass seedlings have reached approximately half an inch in height.

When this happens, you should cut down watering to once every three days or so. If you’ve ever planted grass seed in the past, you know how difficult it can be to protect it and keep it moist enough until germination.

This is where peat moss comes in. Applying peat moss on top of the soil after you plant grass seed will greatly help.

Applying Peat Moss

Peat moss’s natural water retention will help your grass seed. When the peat moss breaks down, it will also add more nutrients to the soil.

How to Cover Grass Seed with Peat Moss (step-by-step)

Let’s go over the steps of planting grass seed and then using peat moss below.

Step-By-Step Applying Peat Moss

1. Prepare the Area

First you must get the area ready for applying peat moss. Apply any amendments the soil needs before you do your peat moss layer.

2. Thoroughly Water

Do a thorough watering, making sure the ground is damp stretching to about one inch down into the soil.

3. Load Seed Spreader

Load grass seed into a seed spreader. Make sure you know the correct amount to use. You can find this out by checking out the instructions on the seed bag.

When planting your grass seed, do so by moving the spreader in a rows. Keep doing this until you have planted the entire area.

4. Rake the Soil

After you’ve covered the whole area, use a wide-toothed bow rake on the soil. This will incorporate the seed into the soil.

Rake Lawn Soil

Continue to do this until the seed has gone to a minimum of a quarter of an inch in depth. You should still see a certain amount of the grass seed on the surface of the soil.

5. Cut the Twine

Use a pair of scissors to sever the twine binding your peat moss. Once you’ve done this, protect your hands with some garden gloves.

6. Peal Apart the Moss

Use your gloved hands to pull the peat moss apart. Keep going until it’s quite loose, without any clumps.

Distribute the peat moss on the area, creating a layer between one quarter of an inch and half an inch in depth. Keep it up until you have covered the entire area with this amount of peat moss.

7. Water More

Use about half an inch of water to further hydrate the area. Get the peat moss moist, ensuring there aren’t any dry areas.

Watering New Lawn

Why Peat Moss is Better than Straw for Grass Seed

Peat moss is better than straw for a number of reasons. It is more effective in protecting your grass seed, keeping them healthy, and benefiting the soil.

In other words, you’re much more likely to end up with a healthy and beautiful lawn if you use peat moss than if you use straw as a top dressing.

Why is Peat Moss Better than Straw

If you want the best peat moss, consider looking for one with a Canadian origin. Canadian peat moss tends to be especially beneficial. When you apply peat moss to your lawn, it helps your soil aerate more effectively.

This is important, as if your soil doesn’t get enough air, water, and nutrients, it will end up in problems for your grass seed and seedlings.

The material composition of peat moss is a minimum of 95% organic. It will add essential nutrients to your soil.

Benefits of Using Peat Moss on Your Lawn

There are numerous benefits of peat moss for your lawn. I’ll talk about them here.

Benefits of Peat Moss

Decomposes Quickly

Peat moss decomposes more quickly than other kinds of top dressing.

Looks Better Than Straw

Peat moss is better aesthetically than straw, which can look quite ugly when on top of your lawn.

Great Moisture Retention

Is much more effective at retaining moisture than straw.

Less Problem With Weed Seeds

You’ll have less of a problem with weed seeds than you would with straw.

Soil Conditioning Benefits

Peat moss has soil conditioning benefits that straw doesn’t.

When you incorporate peat moss into soil, it will boost your grass seed’s germinate rates. Peat moss helps with the aeration of your soil because of the structure of this organic material.

Peat Moss Soil Conditions

Aeration gives your soil better air flow, and it gives it better access to water and nutrients. Peat moss is effective at holding onto the water and nutrients your soil needs for better seed germination.

When you add peat moss to your lawn, use a garden tiller to mix the peat moss into the top 6 inches of the soil, making sure that this is loose. Adjust your tiller so it’s at the slowest speed.

This will let the tines properly incorporate the peat moss into your soil. Do this thoroughly and slowly.

What Exactly is Peat Moss?

Peat moss has been a gardener’s favorite since the middle of the 20th century. It’s peat moss’s capacity for proper moisture management and ability to retain nutrients that makes it so useful in the garden.

Nutrients often leach out from many different kinds of soil.

What Exactly is Peat Moss

When you add peat moss, you lend its amazing abilities to your soil. It will boost your soil’s consistency and texture.

Peat moss is formed when specific kinds of living matter (including moss) decompose, specifically in peat bogs. It’s a fibrous material.

There is a major difference between peat moss and the kinds of compost you might create at home (either in your compost bin or using a countertop composter like the Lomi – which I own and use to reduce kitchen waste).

This is the fact that peat moss is primarily comprised of moss. Also, the moss and other organic matter decomposes without any access to air.

This slows down how quickly it can decompose, leading to greater benefits in the end.

When you buy peat moss in the United States, you will probably get a product originating in Canada. You can use peat moss in a few different ways.

One of the most popular is as a beneficial soil amendment.

Why Cover Grass Seed With Peat Moss (final thought)

Peat moss is a great soil amendment for your lawn. It’s one of my top choices when seeding a new lawn or overseeding a lawn and I recommend using peat moss to cover your grass seed so you have the best chance of growing beautiful and healthy grass.

Want to learn more tips and tricks? You’ll probably enjoy my in-depth guide to top-dressing your lawn as well.

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Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

4 thoughts on “How to Cover Grass Seed with Peat Moss (+ why you should)

  1. Alice Miller

    Many places are no longer selling peat moss as it is considered a non replaceable resource. I agree that peat moss is great for lawns and gardens but here in Western NC, I can not find it anywhere. I use what I call southern topsoil which is really mushroom compost. It spreads like peat moss and readily available.

    • Great points, Alice! Thanks for the comment.

      I live up in Maine, and perhaps my proximity to Canada (where a lot of peat moss is harvested) is why it’s readily available where I am. That said – your note about sustainability is a good one. Peat moss works great, but I often use screened, finished compost (similar idea to the mushroom compost you use), which is light, fluffy, improves the soil, and is great at retaining moisture. I’m a huge fan of composting, and any time we can recycle and re-use in a sustainable way I’m all for it!

  2. Charlene Gerdes

    When should you mow a newly seeded area and how short should it be cut? This is a test area where we put down seed to see how long it would take to germinate and fill in,
    My daughter has between a quarter and a fourth acre of lawn that we are going to have to do in stages due to the expense involved.. What would you suggest as to the best way to break this up?

    • Hey, Charlene!

      Thanks for your patience in getting a reply here. When I’m seeding, I like to wait until the grass is at least 3″ tall for that first mow, and I never cut more than 1/3 of the length of the grass blade, bagging my clippings so that there’s a lower chance of that new grass getting smothered by them. I typically will do that twice (bagging the clippings), then mulch-mow as I normally would by the third mow … but that’s really a judgment call depending upon the type of grass you’re growing and how it looks.

      As for when to time that first mow, it really depends. A grass like Perennial Rye you may be mowing it 10-14 days after spreading your seed … other grasses may not even be germinated yet in that amount of time – that’s why I usually base it on how long the grass blades are, and I try to delay it as long as possible. The risks with mowing too early are that the mower blades or mower tires (when you turn) can rip some of the seedlings right out of the ground. Watch the height of your grass, and also get in there and give the grass a gentle tug by hand to see how far along the roots are. You want it to feel nice and secure before you mow.

      In terms of breaking up seeding projects in stages – that’s a great idea. Not only will it help you break up the expense, but it also leaves some areas of your yard usable! I know with kids and a dog, this is typically necessary for my house.

      I suggest that you break your lawn into some manageable zones that will work for your daughter in terms of size, and also in terms of how they use their property. Determining the size of these zones based on your infrastructure (i.e. what you have for sprinklers and hoses) is often a winning strategy. That way you can get good coverage for irrigating each area without having to invest hundreds of dollars in additional hoses and sprinklers. Map those sections out using my free lawn measuring tool. That way you’ll know exactly what the square footage of each zone is, and can order the perfect amount of seed. Enter the square footage of each zone into my grass seed calculator so you know exactly what seeding rate to use for the type of grass you’ll be planting. That square footage total will help you calculate the proper amount of starter fertilizer to put down as well.

      Hope some of this information is helpful – good luck, Charlene!

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