Thatch Is Holding Back Your Lawn

Like most plants, grass also has a below ground root system hidden underneath the beautiful green and growing grass. But, in between what you see and what you do not see is a layer known as thatch. Thatch is made up of leaves, stems, and roots and is a natural part of a lawn’s growing process, even proving to be beneficial to your soil.

Why is thatch removal essential to a healthy lawn?

Well, there is a fine line between just enough and too much and, in time, can cause new problems and over time, thatch can build up too quickly to be broken down and can form a barrier that keeps moisture and air from getting to the roots of your grass.

We know what you’re thinking…

What It Means to De-Thatch Your Lawn

De-Thatching refers to the mechanical removal of the layer of dead grass tissue (thatch). Like we mentioned earlier, too much of this residue is bad for your grass and keeps water and other important nutrients from getting all the way down to your grass roots. A one-half inch or less of thatch is beneficial, but any amount over a three-quarters inch and it can lead to increased pest and disease problems in the future and may even reduce the effectiveness of future fertilizers, fungicides, and insecticides.

Do I Need to De-Thatch My Lawn?

Short Answer: yes.

Every lawn should be de-thatched while it is actively growing and the soil is moist. This time of year usually falls in line with many early-spring or early-fall lawn projects, but can even extend to late-spring and early-summer in warmer climates. Overall, de-thatching is tough on your grass and you want to time the process so it leaves your grass with sufficient time to repair itself and regrow what was lost in the process. The good news is that you can check if you have a thatch problem with a couple of quick tests.

First, does your lawn feel spongy or bouncy underfoot? You might have a thick layer of thatch. Is soil visible between the crown of the grass? If not, you’re probably looking at a thick layer of thatch. Do you have a trowel or spade handy? Remove a wedge-shaped layer of grass and soil about three inches thick and measure the amount of thatch that you see. Any layer thicker than three-quarters of an inch means it is time to de-thatch.

Techniques for De-Thatching Your Lawn

Well, you have a few ways to go about this. A simple way to fix your thatch problem is by using a power or convex rake. Much like when you are raking leaves, pushing rake tines deep into your grass can help break up some of the thatch and you should start to see and feel the thatch separating from the soil as you are raking. However, this method only works in relatively minor cases the lawn thatch and if you have a more severe thatch problem, your best bet may be to perform a core aeration.

Core aeration not only fixes your thatch problem, but it also provides an added benefit of improving soil structure. When it comes to this option, you can do one of three things: hire a lawn service, rent a core aerator, or buy an aerator. Due to the price and storage issue of always having an aerator in your garage, we might suggest hiring help or simply renting the machinery. If you do decide to rent an aerator, ask the rental company to be sure to ask the rental agency to adjust the spacing and cutting depth for your grass type so as not to cause any more potential lawn problems. This type of machinery is heavy so you should exercise extreme caution while you are using it.

Managing The Thatch In Your Lawn

Regardless of your lawn, thatch is always there; it’s just a matter of how much thatch is there. Anything less than or equal to a one-half inch of thatch is beneficial, but any amount over a three-quarters inch and you’re looking at some extra lawn care on your hands. If you are planning on using a de-thatcher for your lawn, don’t forget to mark irrigation lines, sprinkler heads, or buried utility lines before you begin the process. Your lawn will look pretty beat up after it has been de-thatched so be sure to rake up any loose thatch you see lying around, fertilize, and let your grass do some much-needed repairing. Keeping your lawn well-waters after the de-thatching process will have it looking healthier than ever when it is back in tip-top shape.