What is a Good Lawn Top Dressing?


“I have a few bales of Black and Gold Raised Bed and Potting Mix. Can I use that as a top dressing for my lawn?” Question from Albert of  Texas

Answer: It’s smart to start by using what you have. Our Natural & Organic Raised Bed Mix should work well as a top-dressing for your lawn. It does contain partially composted bark, but the pieces are small. The ingredients in the product are Starter Fertilizer Charge, RESiLIENCE®, Earthworm Castings, Compost, Bark, and Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss. All of these will boost your lawn’s organic matter and help with any seeding efforts. Other good products for the task include Black Gold Peat Moss and Garden Compost Blend.

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

My Mix Has Slime Mold! Is It Dangerous?

Here a yellow slime mold is growing on a fallen tree in nature.

“I bought 8qt of Black Gold Cactus Mix and started repotting my plants. The first bag looked fine, but the second one was covered in orange/rusty colored powder and some fuzzy white blooms. I haven’t used it, but will this happen to the other one as well? What should I do with it?” Question from Rusty of St Louis, Missouri

Answer: It may look funky, but there is no need to worry. The reddish-brown growth found on the top of the potting mix is a harmless saprophytic slime mold. These exist in healthy natural environments and obtain food from dead or decaying organic matter, such as peat moss, rotting stumps, and decaying leaves (also compost). They are rarely able to grow in bags of mix, but clearly, there was enough air, moisture, and warmth in the plastic packaging to allow this misplaced saprophyte to grow and feed on the peat (or decaying organic matter). The saprophytic mold will not harm your cacti, succulents, or other plants in any way. In fact, once the bag is opened, the saprophyte will dry up, dissipate, and never return.

I hope that this helps!

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist


How Should I Store Peat Moss?

“I have purchased peat moss for the first time and will have some left over for the winter, how should it be stored? Question from Victor of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Answer: Store your bags in a covered, dry place, and be sure your bags are secured at the top. You want to keep bags closed and dry to reduce the chance of attracting fungus gnats or encouraging fungal growth. It’s also wise to watch out for tears in your bags. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to purchase a covered bin to store peat moss or other amendments if you plan to store them for the long term.

Happy gardening!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

How Do I Calculate How Much Peat to Add to My Garden?

“I purchased 3.0 CF bags of Black Gold Peat Moss. What is the expanded volume of this bag? I need 3.5 cubic yards of peat for my raised bed garden mix, so was going to buy 32 of these bales…but realized it’s going to expand. How do I calculate how much to buy?” Question from Dave of Utah

Answer: To determine the expansion of 3.0 cubic foot bales of Black Gold Peat Moss anticipate it at a 2:1 ratio. So, the bales should expand to 6 cubic feet when properly fluffed. One cubic yard equals 27 cubic feet, so to determine the amount you need in cubic yards calculate 3.5  x 27 = 94.5. Then divide 94.5 by 6 for a total of 15.75 bales. I’d go with 16 bales of peat to be safe.

I hope that this helps!


Jessie Keith

Black Gold® Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss

Looking for the best all-purpose soil amendment and mix base for your garden? Then try Black Gold® Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss and Black Gold Peat Moss Plus! It’s natural and organic for organic growing.

Click here for an informational pdf.

Peat Moss: Nature’s Gift to Gardeners

BGPeatMoss2.2cu Front-WEBHealthy soil is the key to vigorous garden plants and lawns. It is good insurance to protect your garden investment. So, how can you best prepare your soil? Use Black Gold® Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss and Peat Moss Plus. Both are made with pure, sustainably harvested Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss, with the Peat Moss Plus having an additional organic wetting agent to aid in re-wetting the medium. [To learn more about sustainable peat and garden health, click here.] Peat moss is a wonderful gift to gardeners.

Black Gold Peat Moss is specially processed so consumers enjoy a uniform, quality product with remarkable horticultural benefits. It is 100% natural and contains no toxins, additives or preservatives. The unique cell structure of peat moss allows it to perform many garden benefits.

Peat Moss Qualities:

  1. Water-Saving –Peat moss retains as much as 20 times its weight in water and releases water slowly as the plants need it,  so soil treated with Black Gold Peat Moss requires less watering.
  2. Aerating – Soils amended with peat moss have more air pockets for better root growth. Amending clay soils with peat moss will enrich their organic matter and make them more porous.
  3. Enriching –Adding Black Gold Peat Moss to poor or sandy soils helps them retain more water and nutrients.
  4. Fertilizer-Friendly – Peat moss has a high CEC, which means it holds and releases available nutrients better. This means that fertilizers/soil nutrients are made more available to plants and leach less in peat-rich soil. Peat moss has double the cation exchange capacity of fir bark and coconut coir.
  5. Time-Saving- Peat moss protects soil from compacting, drying and hardening which makes it easier to weed while adding needed organic matter that allows your plants to flourish.
  6. Long-Lasting– Peat moss resists decomposition. So the addition of it to your garden will provide benefits for years to come.
  7. Organic – Both Black Gold Peat Moss and Black Gold Peat Moss Plus are OMRI Listed for organic gardening.
  8. Acidifying – Peat has a naturally lower pH, which is great for acid-loving plants,  like azaleas, camellias, and blueberries. By adding an alkaline amendment, such as Dolomitic lime, can increase a peaty soil’s pH to a neutral level.


Peat Moss Uses:

  1. Seed new lawns – Spread 2″ (5 cm) of peat moss across the lawn (see below for the Amendment Application Formula). Rototill or dig it into the top 6″ (15 cm) of soil. After seeding, fertilizing and watering lightly, carefully spread a ½” (1 cm) top dressing. Moisten daily for 2-3 weeks.
  2. Rejuvenate and top dress established lawns – Gently rake in ¼” to ½” (1 cm) of peat moss across the entire lawn in spring for better performance through summer.
  3. Amend flower and vegetable gardens – Spread 2″ (5 cm) of peat moss across the flower bed or vegetable garden. If you have some garden compost, blend the peat and compost to make a 50/50 blend. Add the appropriate granular garden fertilizer and rototill or dig it into the top 6″ (15 cm) of soil. For an existing garden, make sure not to damage the roots when incorporating amendments.
  4. Amend soil when planting trees and shrubs – Dig a hole 3 times the width of the root ball and as deep as the pot. Loosen the soil in the bottom of the hole. Add the appropriate fertilizer, and mix 1 part peat moss with 2 parts soil. Place the plant in the hole, making sure it is 1-2 inches higher than the original soil level. Finally, fill in with the amended and fertilized soil, making sure there are no air pockets. Water immediately, and monitor and water for 3 to 4 weeks.
  5. Plant acid-loving plants– Peat moss naturally maintains an acid pH (3.5-4.5), so amend the soil around acid-loving plants, such as azalea, rhododendrons, camellias, and blueberries, with peat moss.


Increased CEC

Why is the use of peat moss so popular? Gardeners have found that peat moss allows them to dependably maximize crop performance. Peat moss has one of the highest measured cation exchange capacities (CEC) of mix component or amendment, while coir and aged fir bark have roughly half the cation exchange capacity of peat. This higher CEC maximizes the nutrient retention wherever peat is used for growing. When you use peat moss as a garden amendment, you can immediately reduce the need to fertilize and water as often.



BG-Peat-Moss-8qtHistorically, homeowners have purchased premium Black Gold (Sun Gro Horticulture) products because of their consistently high horticultural performance. Homeowners can also feel confident that our products are made from resources that are plentiful, renewable, and sustainably sourced. Our company cares about the natural environment. That is why our peat moss products are both OMRI Listed and Veriflora Certified. If you still have questions about the sustainability of peat moss, we suggest you read The Leader in Sustainability Peat Resources article. Want to know how much Black Gold Peat Moss to add to a given area? Use this simple amendment application formula.


Amendment Application Formula

([area to cover] ft2 x [depth in inches desired] x 0.0031 = ___ yd3).

Example: If you wanted to cover a 20 square foot area with 2 inches of compost, the result would be: 20 ft2 x 2 inches of compost x 0.0031 = 2.48 yd3.

Harvesting and Planting Moss

Holland - Maureen Gilmer
Cool, damp winter temperatures bring mosses out in all their glory. These amazing spore-bearing plants often grows on rocks, in shaded tree dells, the north side of a house, and anywhere else where it’s wet enough. This moss is perfect for using in glass terrarium containers and as a surface covering for bonsai specimens.

Mosses look great at the base of bonsai or shade plants, and harvesting and planting moss is easy. To harvest free, wild mosses from your yard, gently lift patches of moss up with your fingers so that it comes up in large chunks. Bring the pieces indoors and keep them damp until you’re ready to use them. Then separate pieces to transplant onto exposed soil beneath any decorative container plant. The result always looks great!


Learn more about Sun Gro® Horticulture’s Preservation and Reclamation Policy

Huntington - Maureen Gilmer

Why Buy A Premium Potting Soil?

Black Gold Award Winning PackagingWhy buy a premium potting soil? The reasons are many. As each of us begins a gardening project, we all have the end result in mind: a bountiful vegetable garden, an overflowing flower covered basket or perhaps a thick and rich new lawn! At Sun Gro, we believe that the key to these and many other gardening successes is directly related to the quality of product that we, as a manufacturer, put in a bag. We hope the following chart will illustrate the advantages of Black Gold® made by Sun Gro Horticulture, North America’s largest producer of professional growing mixes – over the competition.

Products for Fall Planting and Winterizing Your Garden

BG-Fert-Citrus-Avocado-Vine-OMRI-120608Fall is a wonderful time to garden. You can look over this year’s accomplishments and start developing your plans for next year, but it is also the perfect time for working in your garden.

Planting garden beds, color bowls and hanging baskets with fall annuals is a wonderful way to extend the joy of gardening throughout the remainder of the year. Be sure to add some Black Gold® Garden Compost Blend, Soil Conditioner and garden amendment or planting mix to your soil with either Black Gold® Rose & Flower or All Purpose Fertilizer to ensure a flower-filled display. Color bowls and hanging baskets with Black Gold® All Purpose Potting Soil or Black Gold® Natural and Organic Potting Soil make good choices for fall plantings.

Moving your outdoor herbs inside can be a very worthwhile fall activity. All you need to do is repot them in an indoor container and place them on a window sill that gets about 6 hours of sunlight. Those fresh herbs will be particularly flavorful, and it can be as easy as planting your favorite herbs in a container with Black Gold® Natural & Organic or Black Gold® All Purpose Potting Soil.

Fall is the best time of year to over-seed an existing lawn or start a new lawn from seed because the temperatures are cooler and the rain patterns are more consistent. Black Gold® Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss is a crucial ingredient in the lawn enhancement process. When you spread the peat moss on top of the lawn seed, it will keep the seeds moist and you will have quicker and more uniform grass seed germination.

Tree and shrub planting in the fall is natural for most plants. At this time of year the plants are starting to go dormant while the soil temperatures are still warm in comparison with the air. Both of these factors promote root development. After you start with the appropriate Black Gold® fertilizer, add your choice of Black Gold® Garden Compost, Soil Conditioner and garden amendment or planting mix to amend the soil. Simply follow the instructions on the back of the fertilizer box and amendment bag to add a new tree or shrub to your garden.

Planting spring-blooming bulbs in the fall can be a wonderfully rewarding activity. Black Gold® Garden Compost, Soil Conditioner and Garden Amendment or Planting Mix are great choices to improve the soil structure and enrich the soil with organic matter. Try using Black Gold Bone Meal to fertilize your bulbs so they will develop a good strong root system before they appear next spring.

Summer bulbs need to be dug up and stored in the fall after frost has blackened their foliage. Dry Black Gold® Peat Moss is a great choice for storage of most bulbs. However, a pre-moistened Black Gold® Peat Moss is the right choice for dahlias. Black Gold® Perlite can also be used to store bulbs that need to stay dry.

After raking up your garden’s leaves and plants, why don’t you put them in your compost pile instead of having them hauled away to either a landfill or a commercial composting site? If your compost pile becomes overwhelmed with the leaves, bag or pile them up separately and gradually add them over the winter as you add kitchen waste to your compost pile. Be sure to add Black Gold® Fertilizers to start the composting process.

And last but not least, be sure to add Black Gold® Garden Compost , Soil Conditioner and Garden Amendment or Planting Mix to any open location in the garden in preparation for planting next spring. May your fall gardening be full of joy and satisfaction when you garden with Black Gold® potting soils, amendments and fertilizers.