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 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
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:

  1. 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
  • 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.

thatch raking

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.

Get in touch with a Spring-Green pro today.