Monty Don reveals the one thing never to use in your garden ‘for any reason, ever’

The garden guru warns against using this peat at all costs – here are 3 reasons why, and what to use instead

A front garden with grass, a bench and wisteria climbing the house exterior
(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

BBC Gardener’s World presenter Monty Don has spoken out against the one thing you should never use in your garden: peat. 

Sharing his garden ideas on his blog, the horticultural expert lists three crucial reasons for avoiding the material, but admits that only one of these reasons is ‘good enough on its own'. 

However, the combination of all three offers overwhelming evidence to step away from the problematic organic matter.

Why you should never use peat in your garden – according to Monty Don

Here, Monty explains why he recommends avoiding peat – and what you can use instead.  

1. The environmental impact  

Pristine grass in a large garden

(Image credit: Future / Annaick Guitteny)

If you are into permaculture gardening, you'll already have taken many steps to make your backyard more eco-friendly. 

But the first – and easiest – step towards a more sustainable garden begins when you stop using peat, the garden expert suggests. This is because peat, left in its place in the ground, is a ‘carbon sink’ that is ‘as effective as forest or meadow,’ so it is vital not to interrupt its placement and spread it across your borders. 

‘When we rip it up by the thousands of tons with huge machinery, we are actively increasing global warming. If you buy it, then you are part of that process,’ Monty warns. 

2. Its impact on ecosystems 

Short cut grass in a garden with wild flowers

(Image credit: Future)

Alongside its effects on the environment, Monty similarly explains what happens to the ecosystem when you bring peat into your garden. 

Emphasizing his sustainable garden ideas, he explains that ‘peat bogs are a unique habitat and ecosystem that establishes very slowly,’ so it is important to ensure it is uninterrupted. 

‘A huge variety of flora and fauna depend upon them, and even if they are left to reestablish, this is an incredibly slow process. Peat can take a year to increase by just one millimeter. That is about one inch every 25 years,’ he explains. 

However, vast extraction machinery can remove meters of peat at a time – meaning it can ‘destroy thousands of years of habitat’ in seconds. ‘No garden is worth that,’ Monty adds. 

3. There are effective alternatives  

sustainable garden

(Image credit: Future)

Compost mixes, available on Amazon

Finally, there is no need to use peat. There are excellent alternatives, Monty says. The garden expert suggests looking towards coir; compost mixes with a combination of bark, bracken, wool, or moss – such as this mix from Amazon work just as efficiently.

Monty also suggests making your own leaf mold by combining garden compost with your fallen autumnal leaves – a solution that is almost entirely free. 

‘Check before you buy and only purchase composts that are clearly labeled Peat-Free,’ he adds. 

These three pointers have reshaped our cottage garden ideas for good – because who can argue with Monty?  

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.