Lawn thatch is a term you may have heard thrown around, or maybe you’ve even seen it up close a few times, but how much do you truly know about it? The lawn care pros at Spring-Green have compiled a guide to help you get schooled up on thatch. Everything you need to know has been gathered up in this easy-to-read format so you can get your overview quickly and then return to your busy life. Of course, we’re here for you to help you with any and all your lawn care needs related to thatch or otherwise.
Lawn Thatch 101
So, What Exactly Is Thatch? Thatch is a mix of dead and living plant matter that typically forms at the base of your grass, right at the point where the grass stems meet the soil. Some popular types of grasses are more likely to experience thatch buildup than others. It’s common for grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, Bermudagrass, and creeping fescues to get thick thatch that requires dethatching. On the other hand, tall fescue or perennial ryegrass rarely have thatch problems.
What Causes Thatch? Normally, organic matter, such as small grass clippings or mulched leaves, breaks down quickly. However, sometimes these materials and others can go too slowly, causing a buildup layer that leads to thatch growth.
Should I Be Worried If I See Thatch in My Lawn? A common question homeowners have is whether thatch is good or bad for their grass or plants. The answer is – it depends. If the thatch layers grow beyond one inch of thickness, they become barriers to the health of your lawn and plant life. Thick thatch can block the needed water and fertilizer from reaching grass roots leaving your lawn and plants vulnerable to heat and stress. As you continue to water your thatch covered lawn, the irrigation can trap moisture, creating a breeding ground for disease and insects.
How Do I Get Rid of Thatch? If your lawn’s thatch has grown to over two inches of thickness, you may call in the professionals to get rid of it. Excessive thatch removal has to be done gently to avoid damage the roots of your grass. If your thatch has not gotten overly thick, you may be able to take care of it yourself. You can dethatch your lawn in three ways:
- Dethatching Rakes – Manual dethatching rakes are one option to get rid of the thatch in your lawn. These special rakes have curved blades that can be used to dig into your lawn and pull up thatch. These are good for small dethatching areas and for general maintenance of small areas.
- Power Rakes – A power rake is another option if you have a larger area to dethatch. Power rakes are similar to a push mower but have rotating devices that pull out the thatch. Power rakes are a good choice for lawns with thinner thatch layers and tough grass that can take the powerful removal of thatch.
- Vertical Mowers – Verticutters, also referred to as a vertical mower, are a third option in the DIY thatch removal effort. They have vertical blades sharp enough to dig down through the thatch layer to pull out the thatch forcefully. The downside is they often pull out the grass as well. Verticutters are a good option if you are completely overhauling your lawn.
Can I Prevent Thatch from Popping Up? While there is no fool-proof way to prevent thatch from occurring, there are a few steps to take to prevent it.
- Keeping an eye on your lawn’s soil pH balance, for example. Lawns with low soil pH are more prone to thatch.
- Another common factor to thatch overgrowth is too much fertilizer or using products with too much pesticide.
- One final tip is to monitor the thatch growth and deal with it at its beginning stages. If left too long, the thatch becomes harder to remove and the damage to the grass becomes more significant.
Are There Special Steps I Should Take After I Dethatch? When you finish your dethatching work, be sure to rake up all thatch debris and water your dethatched lawn thoroughly. This is also an ideal time to seed your lawn, now that you’ve cleared the space for new, healthy growth. As a preventative maintenance step, you can also start to test your soil to ensure its pH is at optimal levels.
Spring-Green, the lawn care leader since 1977, can help you determine the why, when and how around dethatching your lawn. We’ll help you get your lawn back on track and then provide the guidance to keep it there. Count on our team of pros to help you enjoy a beautiful, healthy lawn – thatch-free.