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what causes thatch in lawn

by Eunice Klein Published 8 months ago Updated 4 weeks ago
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The Causes of Thatch Build-Up

  • Over-Fertilising. Over fertilising is one of the biggest causes of the accumulation of lawn thatch. Lawn feed contains...
  • Soil Type. Different types of soil contain more micro-organisms, bacteria and fungi than others. For example, soils with...
  • Soil Compaction. In the same way that heavy clay soils lack oxygen, so does compacted soil.

Thatch buildup happens if there is poor soil aeration and drainage. Improper lawn watering practices (usually too much water or too frequent water), cold soil temperatures, the use of chemical pesticides, and the use of synthetic fertilizers are all factors that increase thatch accumulation in lawns.

Full Answer

When, why and how often to dethatch lawn?

Mar 11, 2022 · Thatch buildup occurs when the microbes in the soil cannot break down the organic matter as fast as it accumulates. This typically only occurs when there is a lack of microbial activity in the soil. Excessive thatch is often caused by improper watering practices; usually too much or too frequent lawn watering.

Why, when and how to dethatch your lawn?

Aug 04, 2021 · What to Do After Dethatching. #1. Overseeding. This is something you want to consider after dethatching. It will definitely help in restoring your lawn to its natural, verdant, and ... #2. Test Your Lawn Regularly. #3. Fertilize, Water and Mow Wisely. #4. Aerate.

When is best time dethatch lawn?

Dec 28, 2020 · The Causes of Thatch Build-Up Over-Fertilising. Over fertilising is one of the biggest causes of the accumulation of lawn thatch. Lawn feed contains... Soil Type. Different types of soil contain more micro-organisms, bacteria and fungi than others. For example, soils with... Soil Compaction. In the ...

How to control thatch in your lawn?

The grass grows roots into the thatch because rain and fertiliser is held by it. The soil becomes dry so the only way for your lawn to survive is for the roots to go where the water is – into the thatch. Previous article.

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How do I stop my lawn thatching?

To prevent thatch, keep leaves raked and remove some of the grass clippings after mowing. Even though they don't directly contribute to thatch, they eventually increase the layer of material on the lawn surface. If material accumulates faster than it decays, thatch builds up.

Will lawn thatch go away?

It can take a couple of years to fully break up the thatch, but it will happen. Here are some other factors and tips to help you get rid of thatch through decomposition: You need to keep the soil moist underneath the thatch layer. When it dries out, decomposition ceases.

How do you get rid of thatch naturally?

Here's how to get rid of thatch.
  1. Dethatch. On a dry day, use a thatch rake or a stiff-tined rake to comb through the grass in a back-and-forth motion applying enough pressure to reach the bottom layer of thatch and slightly penetrate the soil. ...
  2. Collect the Thatch. ...
  3. Aerate and Seed. ...
  4. We Know How to Get Rid of Thatch.

Does fertilizer break down thatch?

Straight organic granular fertilizers may not be the best choice here because unless they are water soluble, they will sit on top of the thatch layer and be very slow to break down and release their nutrients. After all, a lot of the thatch is already organic matter that isn't breaking down fast enough.

Does aeration help with thatch?

Aeration helps loosen the soil and helps decompose the excessive thatch layer at a faster rate. Both services accomplish a similar goal, but lawn aeration does so without the possibility of damaging your lawn in the way that dethatching would.

How often should you dethatch your lawn?

Thatch builds up over time, so it's not necessary to dethatch every year. Plan on dethatching every five years or so if your lawn needs it. You might want to give your lawn a quick check every year just to see how much thatch has accumulated.Sep 1, 2017

What is the best time of year to dethatch a lawn?

For northern grass the best time to dethatch your entire lawn is in late summer to early fall when the grass is actively growing. For southern grasses, dethatch in late spring. In early spring, and for small areas, use a thatching rake, which is a sharp-tined rake that rips the thatch out of the lawn.

How do you pick thatch after dethatching?

How to Remove Thatch?
  1. Manual removal with dethatching rake. This is a special rake that is specifically designed to dig into the thatch layer of your lawn and pull it out.
  2. Core aeration.
  3. Power raking. If you have a serious thatch problem, the only real way to deal with it is to use a machine called a power rake.
Mar 1, 2020

Why is my lawn thatching?

Over fertilising is one of the biggest causes of the accumulation of lawn thatch. Lawn feed contains nitrogen which causes the grass to grow quickly. If you apply too much fertiliser or if you apply it too often, grass grows at a far higher rate than microbes in the soil can break the dead material down.

How does thatch affect lawns?

Lawn thatch can affect your lawn either positively or negatively. It can contribute to your lawn’s health and vigour, or it can cause problems. Having a little (around a quarter of an inch) in your lawn is a good thing. It protects the crown of the grass plant from damage and disease while still allowing water, oxygen, ...

Is thatch bad for your lawn?

The Pros and Cons of Lawn Thatch. Lawn thatch can affect your lawn either positively or negatively. It can contribute to your lawn’s health and vigour, or it can cause problems. Having a little (around a quarter of an inch) in your lawn is a good thing. It protects the crown of the grass plant from damage and disease while still allowing water, ...

Why is my grass weak?

When there is too much thatch, those nutrients can’t penetrate the soil and so the grass is starved of what it needs to produce food and grow. As a result, it becomes weak and sparse. Sometimes, the grass will grow roots into the thatch layer so it can consume the water and any nutrients which are held there.

How to grow grass faster?

Use Fertilisers Correctly. Your lawn needs chemical nutrients in order for the grass to be able to produce food and grow. However, the overuse of fertilisers causes the grass to grow quicker than the dead material can be broken down. Be sensible about how often you fertilise your lawn and how much you use.

Why is there so much thatch in my lawn?

Excessive thatch is caused by the absence of beneficial microbial activity. Excessive thatch is often caused by improper watering practices; usually too much or too frequent lawn watering. If the thatch layer is greater than ¾ of an inch then power raking is a tool that can be used to help manage the thatch.

Why does my soil have thatch?

Thatch buildup occurs when the microbes in the soil cannot break down the organic matter as fast as it accumulates. This typically only occurs when there is a lack of microbial activity in the soil.

How to get rid of thatch in lawn?

Stop all fast release nitrogen, synthetic fertilizer, herbicide or fungicide applications. Apply Synergy with Corn Gluten Meal and Humate So il Conditioner to stimulate beneficial microbial activity. Following the 1-2-3-2-1 lawn watering technique is the best way to reduce thatch buildup.

How much water does a lawn need?

For instance, a south facing lawn in full sun will require .6”-.7” of water, a normal facing aspect with partial sun will require .5”-.6” of water, and a north facing aspect or lawns in full shade will require .4”-.5” of water per watering.

What is double aeration?

Aeration or double aeration are excellent for stimulating air movement in soils and will help prevent thatch buildup in lawns. This core sample shows a thatch layer of 1 inch. This lawn is suffering from a severe thatch problem that was caused by improper watering and fertilization practices.

Lawn Thatch

Grasses propagate by seed with some also producing side shoots or runners. These side shoots help the grass spread and are either just above the soil surface (stolons) or just below it (rhizomes). This ‘spreading’ helps the turf knit and become thick and dense. Ideal if you want a little ball to roll smoothly across it!

The Right Amount of Thatch

Too much thatch is considered to be over half an inch. It makes the lawn feel ‘spongy’ underfoot. As well as feeling like a sponge it can also act like a sponge withholding valuable water, air and nutrients needed by the roots of your lawn.

Why does my lawn have thatch?

You can recognize thatch because it will be a dead patch that is dense and thick in an otherwise green lawn.

Can thatch cause damage to lawn?

Although some thatch is desirable in your lawn, too much can result in some serious problems. Thick thatch layers can cause extensive root damage. Because thatch heats up and dries out quickly, the roots risk becoming too dry.

What is thatch in lawn?

What is Thatch? Thatch naturally occurs when dead leaves, stems, and roots mix with living grass to form a dense intermingled layer that shows up between the soil and grass of your lawn. You can recognize thatch because it will be a dead patch that is dense and thick in an otherwise green lawn. A little thatch is beneficial to your grass, ...

How much does it cost to aerate a lawn?

The cost to aerate a lawn ranges from $0.10 to $0.35 per square foot. This price may seem expensive for those with large yards, but it will save money in the long run by keeping your grass healthy. You won't need to re-sod your lawn as often if your yard is free of thatch.

What is the pH of soil to prevent thatch build up?

Soil conditions also contribute to thatch build-up. Acid soils (pH 5.5 or lower) discourage thatch-decomposing organisms and microbes. Soils containing large amounts of clay or sand also contain low amounts of these microbes as do compacted soils and soils with poor structure.

How much does a power dethatcher cost?

If your property is large, you should rent a power dethatcher, which costs about $80 per day. The rental company will be able to give you more specific instructions on how to use it on your lawn. Mow your lawn—but not too short. Rake up the thatch, and then add seed to the bare parts.

What is thatch in lawn?

Thatch is the intermingled layer of living and dead stems, leaves, and roots that exist between the soil and green vegetation. A thin thatch layer (¼-½ inch) provides some benefits such as surface cushioning, increased wear tolerance, and temperature moderation. Excessive thatch (1 inch or more) can cause a variety of lawn problems. Fescues and perennial ryegrass produce thatch slowly but zoysia, Bermuda, and bluegrass tend to be heavy thatch producers.

How to remove thatch from grass?

A vertical mower (cuts down through the thatch layer with rows of teeth) or core aerator can mechanically remove thatch. As with aerating, a good time to dethatch is when the grass is growing vigorously and will have time to recover. Another way to decrease the thatch level is to make the soil more hospitable to microorganisms that decompose organic debris. This can be done by adding lime if the soil is too acidic, encouraging earthworm activity, and aerating the soil. Be aware that many insecticides and fungicides are lethal to earthworms. Improper cultural practices such as light, frequent watering, and over-fertilizing can increase the rate of thatch buildup.

What happens if you put thatch in your lawn?

But sometimes the organic matter that makes up that thatch layer accumulates faster than it can break down. It becomes too thick (1 inch or thicker), leading to the following problems: 1 It forms a barrier that deprives the root system of air, water, and nutrients. 2 It promotes insect infestations. 3 Lawn diseases are more likely to take hold. 4 Patches of lawn with thick layers of thatch become spongy. When mowing your lawn, the mower wheels sink down in these areas, resulting in a lower cut. This keeps you from mowing your lawn at the ideal height.

What is thatch in lawn?

In a lawn, the thatch is an organic layer made up primarily of grass stems, stolons , and rhizomes (both living and dead) that have not yet broken down, or decomposed. Removing this thatch with a rake is known as thatch removal.

How does thatch work?

Such a thatch layer functions as if it were a mulch. It moderates the temperature of the soil and helps it retain moisture. As microbes in the soil break it down, nutrients are released into the soil. But sometimes the organic matter that makes up that thatch layer accumulates faster than it can break down.

Do you need to dethatch your lawn?

Dethatching is not nearly as big a part of lawn care as is mowing. In fact, some homeowners may never need to dethatch the lawn. Some types of grass simply are not as susceptible to thatch build-up as others. For example:

Is Kentucky bluegrass a warm season grass?

Among the warm-season grasses, you are more likely to have to dethatch Bermudagrass ( Cynodon dactylon) than zoysiagrass ( Zoysia japonica ).

When to dethatch grass?

Dethatch lawns composed of warm-season grasses in late spring, which is just when they are "coming into their own" and will recuperate fastest from undergoing dethatching. A convex or "dethatching" rake is better than a regular leaf rake for dethatching a lawn.

Is dethatching better than core aeration?

Of the two solutions, dethatching is certainly preferable to core aeration because core aeration requires a mechanical device. Unhappily, you may not have a choice. The severity of the situation determines which solution is implemented. Dethatching is for mild cases.

How to tell if your lawn has thatch?

Take a garden trowel or spade and dig up a small wedge of your lawn grass and soil. You'll be able to see and measure its thatch layer. If your thatch is 1–2 inches or more, you've probably already seen signs of poor grass color and weak, thin growth. Once you've confirmed your thatch exceeds the healthy mark, the time for dethatching has come.

What is thick thatch?

Thick thatch also provides a breeding ground for lawn disease and insect pests. Some lawn grasses are more prone to thatch buildup than other. Vigorous, spreading grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, Bermudagrass and creeping fescues, may need regular dethatching.

When to dethatch grass?

Active grass growth helps speed your lawn's recovery. Dethatch cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, in late summer or early fall. Dethatch warm-season grasses, such as Bermudagrass or Zoysia grass, after spring green-up, as they enter early summer's peak growth. Never dethatch when your lawn is dormant or stressed;

Can you dethatch a lawn?

Never dethatch when your lawn is dormant or stressed; you can damage it beyond recovery . Lawn aeration and dethatching are two different processes, but they can work together to help your lawn. Aeration removes cores of soil, including their thatch layer, and creates paths for water and nutrient to penetrate thatch and compacted soil.

How does aeration work?

Aeration removes cores of soil, including their thatch layer, and creates paths for water and nutrient to penetrate thatch and compacted soil. This helps prepare thatch for removal and speeds the breakdown of existing thatch.

What is a manual dethatching rake?

Manual dethatching rakes are heavy, short-tined rakes with curved blades designed to dig into your lawn and pull up thatch as you rake. Dethatching rakes are good for light thatch and general thatch maintenance on small lawn areas.

What is a good rake for thatch?

Dethatching rakes are good for light thatch and general thatch maintenance on small lawn areas. Power rakes are mower-like devices with rotating, rake-like tines that dig into thatch at the soil level and pull it up. Power rakes work well for lawns with thinner thatch layers and grass that can withstand intense raking.

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