How to Rid that Lawn of Thatch!
You know that brown patchy debris in a lawn that accumulates on
top of the soil but below the grass line? That's thatch.
Thatch consist of grass clippings, grass stems, roots, and other
debris that either decomposes or accumulates on a lawn over time.
A few reasons thatch can occur are
1) A lawn has never been aerated
2) Cutting high grass frequently and leaving the clippings on a
Thatch is not always a bad thing as it can hold moisture to
protect the lawn from extreme heat and lack of water.
Questions to be asked before removing thatch(dethatching)
1) Is there enough thatch on the lawn to justify dethatching?
2) If so, what process should I use to dethatch the lawn?
Lawn business owners and homeowners need to measure the amount of thatch in a lawn to determine if dethatching needs to be done. I prefer to take a pencil and stick it in the thatch until it touches the ground.Mark the pencil with your fingernail where the thatch comes up to.
After doing this a few times you will be able to eye it and know
whether or not to dethatch. The first couple of times you can
measure with a ruler.
As a guide, anything over 1/2 inch should be dethatched as this
prevents adequete nutrients, air, and water from reaching the
soil. Excessive thatch can also encourage pests and lawn
Dethatching can be done in 3 ways depending on the size of the
lawn and the amount of thatch accumulated.
1) Aeration- For lawns that have less than an inch of thatch.
This is done with an aerator. Always use an aerator that pulls
plugs from the ground as opposed to the ones that poke holes.
2) Rake the lawn manually- using a leaf rake, garden rake, or
thatching rake. Raking is fine for small to medium size lawns
with thatch less than 1 inch. Raking does take some time, but
less stressful on the lawn than a Power Rake.
3) Power Rake- Also called a Power Dethatcher. Use this when
there is more than 1 inch of thatch on the lawn. Power Rakes are
a stout piece of equipment that uses an engine like a lawn mower
to drive vertical blades or tines to cut the surface of the soil.
These blades or tines can be adjusted to certain depths.
You can rent either a power rake or an aerator from Home Depot or
another equipment rental store in your area.
If you decide to dethatch using a power rake mow the lawn to
about half of its regular mowing height.
The blades of the power rake should be adjusted to cut about 1/2
inch into the soil to remove thatch. Always go over the yard
twice and change direction of your paths. For example, (long ways
and short ways) or (diagonal one way and diagonal the other way).
After dethatching, rake up all the debris and thatch.
If you would like to fertilize or reseed the lawn, this is a good
time as roots are exposed.
Water when you are finished dethatching.
Since some power dethatching can make a yard look bad, remember
to dethatch when a lawn can recover the best such as right before
the prime growing seasons. Different types of grasses have best
and worst times to dethatch because the growing seasons vary.
Having a healthy lawn can can definitely improve the look of the landscape and the curb appeal.
If you need any questions answered, please ask them at
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I'm here to help,
Kevin Whiteside is the owner and editor of LawnForum.com Monthly,
an online newsletter for lawn and landscape professionals.
Get a FREE subscription here mailto:LawnForum@aweber.com
He is also the author of "Turn High Grass Into Cold Cash- How to
Start the Ultimate Lawn Service" www.grasstocash.com/adtrackz/go.php?c=areathatch">http://www.grasstocash.com/adtrackz/go.php?c=areathatch