All About Lawn Thatching

Lawn thatching is an important trick of the trade that Landscapers use. Since thatch builds gradually beneath the grass surface, it is understandable why most people overlook this important task.

What is Thatch?

  • It is an interwoven layer of mostly dead roots, crowns, and stems, located between the soil and the green lawn.

Why is Some Thatch Good?

  • Cushions the lawn from foot traffic.
  • Helps to conserve soil moisture.

Why is Too Much Thatch Bad?

  • Prevents water and nutrients from reaching the plant roots.
  • Absorbs pesticide/fungicide, preventing them from doing their job.
  • Reduces space available for new grass. When crowded by thatch, new grass tends to grow rapidly as they seek light and space, thus producing long, thin leaves with shallow roots.
  • Grass root systems can grow into the thatch rather than into the soil.
  • Harbors diseases such as bipolaris leaf spot, summer patch, and dollar spot.
  • Aggravates insect problems. Thatch favors insects by hiding them from their predators.

How do you Slow Thatch Buildup?

  • Avoid overfertilizing
  • Use insecticides sparingly.
  • Use grass that forms less thatch, like perennial ryegrass or tall fescue.
  • Mow top 1/3 of grass at a time.
  • Water deeply, but infrequently.

What are the Indications that its Needed.

  • Greater than average incidence of disease and insect problems.
  • Grass dries out and dies during hot, dry weather.
  • Lawn feels spongy underfoot.
  • Cut a core sample—3 inches deep. Do it when thatch layer reaches ¾ inch.

How is lawn thatching done?

  • Rent a gas powered lawn thatcher. It is a tool with blades that spin vertically to pull excess thatch and debris from the lawn.

When is the Best Time?

  • Cool season lawns—early fall. Early spring is also ok.
  • Warm season lawns—late spring to early summer because grass is actively growing.

If you don’t have time to do it yourself, have a local lawn care company do it. You can sign up online for a free estimate.

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