What is thatch?

Thatch is a layer of living and dead compacted leaves, stems, roots and other organic matter that is right under the grass you can visibly see (seen in the image below).  

 

This is an image that shows all the different parts of turf

What if I have too much thatch?

Most lawns have thatch. In small amounts some thatch is good as it provides a resilient and springy surface to walk on.  Thatch is almost like the pad under your carpet.  If you have too much padding, you begin to have problems. The same applies to lawns. Too much thatch keep water, fertilizer, sunlight and air from penetrating the roots.  A thatch layer can also harbor insects and diseases. Fungicides and insecticides can bind up in the thatch and the treatment becomes ineffective. 

Excessive thatch causes theThis is a diagram that shows how thatch does not prevents water, nutrients and air into the soil. grass roots to grow into the thatch layer to search for water and nutrients, leaving the turf to be more susceptible to drought stress. On the other end of the spectrum, a lawn with heavy thatch also does not dry as quickly once wet, providing ideal conditions for disease.  

How Do I Reduce Thatch?

There are two methods of reducing thatch:

This is an image of a Ryan aerator

Aeration

Aeration – Is the process of mechanically removing thousands of small plugs of thatch and soil from your lawn. Lawns need water, nutrients and air to grow deep, strong roots. By punching holes and pulling the plugs out of the lawn, it allows more nutrients, sunlight, water and air in, while allowing the roots to grow stronger. Aeration is recommended at least once a year.  A great add on service is overseeding after aerating. Click here for more info.  

Hand Thatcher

Dethatching – Is the process of pushing of metal rake tines into the soil of the lawn and scraping up dead grass and thatch. Dethatching can be done with a leaf rake, thatching rake or by using a machine. While dethatching does reduce thatch, there could be collateral damage to healthy turf.  Light raking can be done as needed to your lawn, but we only recommend using a thatch rake or machine in severe cases where you plan on establishing new with grass seed.  Dethatching can be a expensive and time consuming job.  Most professionals, including My Fertilizing Company do not currently offer a dethatching service. 

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