Going peat-free

Peat-free flowers at Morden Hall Park Garden Centre

How important is it for gardeners to go peat-free and protect our precious peatlands around the world?

In 2011, the government pledged to phase out the use of peat in garden products by 2020 and in commercial use by 2030.  We support these government targets and are playing our part by going peat-free at our places. 

Why is peat so important?

Peat is hugely important to our planet for lots of reasons. It acts as a carbon store, it's a great habitat for wildlife, it has a role in water management, and preserves things well for archaeology.

We look after 40 peatland Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 3 per cent of raised bogs, significant fens and valley mires, and huge tracts of blanket bog. Our peatlands in England and Wales hold 2 per cent of the total carbon in the UK, in soil and vegetation.

Some of our peatland has been damaged in the past by drainage, over-grazing, burning and extraction.  We’re working hard to reverse these negative impacts and are now managing and restoring many of our sites to create resilient eco-systems, which will increase carbon storage capacity and reduce emissions.

But much of the peat found in the compost available in the UK now comes from peatlands elsewhere in Europe - and we have a responsibility to protect these precious habitats from the problems we've experienced.

How you can help

You can help by buying peat-free compost for use in your own garden or allotment, and encouraging retailers and the Government in their efforts to phase out the use of peat in gardening products.

Peat fields at Edale, part of the High Peak Estate, Derbyshire

What's so special about peat? 

The Trust looks after 40 peatland Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and we are working hard to reverse previous decline, managing and restoring many of our sites.

Close-up of Rhododendron 'Creek's Cross' flowering at Trengwainton

Our trickiest plants are cared for with peat-free materials 

Chris Trimmer, Nursery Manager at the Plant Conservation Centre, tells us about how he and his team garden peat-free.

Wardens at work on the High Peak Estate

Key peatland projects 

Find out how we're protecting peatland across the UK with some of our key projects.

The National Trust omega sign at Ewe Moor, Malham Tarn Estate, North Yorkshire

Protecting the peatlands at Malham Tarn 

Malham Tarn's peat bogs have been damaged not just by peat-cutting, but also by livestock grazing and the cutting of drainage ditches. The restoration of the bogs will benefit local wildlife as well as returning the area to its natural state.

Sheep at Edale Rocks on Kinder Scout under a blue sky with clouds and the moorland behind.

High Peak Moors, Derbyshire 

The High Peak Moors, part of the Peak District National Park, are a life support system for the people who live and work there. Find out what plans are in place to protect them for future generations.