Lawn Care Guide

How to Control Lawn Thatch

The average lawn contains over 8,000,000 individual grass plants. These plants are always forming new parts and losing old ones. Thatch is the matted layer of dead and living stems, roots, and organic matter that forms in most lawns above the soil. Thatch is a natural part of growing grass, and a small amount is actually healthy. It conserves moisture and provides a source of new humus as it decomposes. Spring-Green helps you with thatch control through core aeration and other services.

So Why Do We Hear So Much About The Dangers Of A Thatchy Lawn?

When the soil in your lawn can’t break down thatch as fast as it builds up, a lot of problems can result. Thatch over 1/2” thick becomes a breeding place for both insects and lawn diseases. Heavy thatch also encourages turf roots to stay in the thatch layer instead of pushing into the soil.

Another big problem with matted thatch is how it sheds water. The principle is the same as the thatched roofs used on old-style cottages. By being thick and heavily matted, the surface keeps water out. That’s fine on a house, but not on a lawn. For all these reasons, it’s important to manage thatch levels as part of a good turf care program.

Soil And Grass Type Affect Thatch Levels

Some soils are able to break down thatch very quickly. Soils that are high in microbial activity can keep up with thatch naturally, eliminating the need for other management practices. Loam soils tend to handle thatch much better than either clay or sand.

The variety of grass being grown makes a big difference, too. Some turfs are prone to rapid thatch accumulation (zoysia and fine fescue for example), while others develop little or no thatch (like tall and improved tall fescues). Conditioning the soil before lawn seeding and then, choosing a thatch resistant variety, are two of the best thatch preventive measures.

Once You Have It, How Do You Fix It?

In severe cases (1” or more of thatch), stripping the entire lawn or complete tilling and reseeding may be the only solution for your lawn repair. Dethatching using a power rake removes a lot of thatch, but also disrupts the good turf. Slicing is another alternative, but it works best only with a few grass varieties.

Of all the choices for thatch control, core aeration (or cultivation) is the best way to reduce and control thatch. Core aeration is simple, economical, and doesn’t tear up the entire lawn (unlike other alternatives for lawn renovation). Regular core cultivation benefits the entire lawn while solving moderate thatch problems. Core aeration also keeps thatch from becoming a serious problem by speeding up the decomposition process and punching through the thatched roof over your soil.

Remember:

  • A little thatch is good, a lot of thatch isn’t.
  • Good lawn management keeps thatch under 1/2”.
  • Reseed with thatch resistant turf types.
  • Practice regular core aeration to avoid more costly and severe solutions.

If you think you have a thatch problem, contact your neighborhood Spring-Green professional for more information about our lawn repair services. We’ll be happy to take a closer look.

Learn more about…

Watering Tips

Moles

More Watering Tips

Reseeding Grass