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.
Here’s the most important take-away, and why peat moss is one of my top recommended products for covering grass seed.
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.
|LawnChick.com is reader supported. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
My Favorite Grass Seed
Patented, Proven, Performance Grass Seed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At Lawn Chick, I am committed to publishing accurate, useful, and trustworthy resources for my readers. As part of this commitment, I’ve invited subject matter experts to review our articles for accuracy. I invite you to read our editorial policy and publishing standards which outlines in detail how every article on this site is sourced, edited, fact-checked, and vetted.