Has anyone ever used peat moss to make the soil less dense? And if so can I add it around already established plants? I have already read that it makes the soil more acidic. How do I know my soil ph?
You can find out your soil ph with a kit from a garden centre but you will get a good idea by looking into your neighbours' gardens or at local wild flowers and shrubs. If you are unsure about what is what, just Google 'acid loving plants' or ' plants for alkaline soil' and you can check that against what you see.
Heavy soil is best improved by adding composted manure, garden compost and grit. Seaweed, rotted down woodchips and bark mulches all help. If you have established plants you can mulch around them but it works faster if you can dig it in. I don't know about moss - I never use any material that isn't well rotted first.
Peat is not a renewable resource (it takes thousands of years to lay down) and using it in gardening is not environmentally sustainable https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/gardening-in-a-changing-world/peat-use-in-gardens. Leaf mould, on the other hand, can be made for free and after a year or two of leaving it in a bin, makes for a great soil improver. Until yours is ready.... consider homemade compost or buying compost from your local council. Whatever you use, just add it to the top of the soil and worms will bring it down eventually. Woodchip or bark mulches as recommended above also help with making the soil less compacted. Patience is also key.
I forgot leaf mould! It's the best.
If you're looking to make your soil less dense your best bet is mushroom compost. It is very good for that purpose, but it is slightly alkaline, so if you're growing acers/azaleas etc then got for well rotted horse manure or farmyard manure which is about neutral pH wizeIt's widely available in loads or bags.I've bought mine from CPA Horticulture and have been pleased with the results.Adding peat is not really the way to go to loosen up your soil - it'll make no difference other than make it slightly acidic and hold more water
If you want an idea of what pH your soil is have a look here-
tap your postcode in the search box and it'll tell you
Leaf mould is excellent - but about as widely available as hen's teeth
Last edited: 03 July 2017 08:16:29
Thank you for the replies, very helpful!