Should You Dethatch The Entire Lawn
Many homeowners ask if its a good idea to dethatch the entire lawn in one go, and the short answer is absolutely not! In fact, by doing this, you risk removing too much thatch and soil from one area, and not removing enough from other areas.
This is why its highly important that you carefully inspect each area of your lawn, and take note of areas with excess thatch.
What To Do After Aerating Lawn
To further feed your lawn, add top dressing after aeration. This consists of sand, compost, or topsoil. Each of these materials contains microorganisms that create nutrients to promote growth. Adding a top dressing increases the health of your grass, reduces lawn disease and thatch, and even helps avoid the use of fertilizers.
Adding sand after aeration fills the holes made during the process and helps with drainage. It is best to use masonry or coarse sand to prevent weed growth or debris. Sand is typically used as a top dressing on golf courses to keep thatch from building up and level off low areas. Some professionals use a mixture of sand, topsoil, and compost.
Compost is made of decomposing organic materials and provides pH balance to the lawn. It improves soil structure if the correct recipe is used. This should be a mixture of green and brown materials. Green materials include grass clippings, coffee grounds, and fruit and vegetable waste. Brown materials are dead items such as leaves, twigs, and branches. Purchasing compost from a reputable dealer is vital as the nitrogen to carbon ratio must be correct to achieve the best results.
Dethatching With A Power Rake
Power rakes are similar to walk-behind lawn mowers and have rotating tines that slice into the grass/turf. These tines dig into the thatch and go all the way into the soil to pull pieces up and loosen/rake your lawn thatch, bringing it to the surface of your lawn.
These power rakes are mainly good for thin layers of thatch. Power rakes are not a great option for sensitive or young grass. You would want to use this on strong grass that you arent worried to rip out, and I usually recommend overseeding afterward.
Most people who use a power rake will rent a professional one from their local hardward store or box store, but you can purchase one if you know youll be detatching your lawn pretty regularly.
My Lawn Dethatcher Setup
I personally own this Greenworks Dethatcher, and it works really well. I dont like that its corded, but I own a Dewalt portable power station, so when its time to dethatch my yard I just strap that on top, and plug the Greenworks power rake right into that which makes it cord-free, running on my Dewalt batteries.
Im really happy with this set-up, but I probably wouldnt recommend the Greenworks Dethatcher to someone with a large yard who doesnt have a battery-powered generator setup like mine. Dragging a cord around a big yard can be frustrating.
If you have a small yard, the Greenworks tool is a great value and probably a better option than renting.
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Should I Dethatch Before Aerating
Yes. Dethatching will remove debris from your lawns canopy before aerating.
Aerating will push thatch and whatever else that is hung-up in the thatch layer into the soil. In this layer there may be dormant weed seed that once pushed into the ground may germinate. For this reason we like to remove as much of this material first with dethatching.
Does Your Lawn Need Dethatching
Yes, I admit that having thatch in your lawn is not entirely bad. In fact, there are some benefits. It does offer a natural way to mulch the soil. When spending time on your lawn perhaps during the weekend, thatch prevents too much compaction in the soil by offering a natural cushion.
Temperature can also affect the health and condition of your grass lawn. Regular fluctuations are not the best for the crown part of the grass and thatch does a good job at keeping this area well protected.
The right thickness is about ½ inch tall. Anything above this will actually do more harm than good. There are a few cons to having too much thatch. One of them is providing a barrier for sunlight to reach down to the lower parts of the grass.
During watering, you want the moisture to quickly seep into the root system. Thatch can hold it near the leaves providing a habitat for the fungus that could bring diseases. Fertilizer and nutrients will not get to the roots resulting in slower growth rate.
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Does Dethatching Ruin Your Lawn
Dethatching causes a lot of damage to your grass and should be done at a time when the grass is growing so it can fix the damage before the next dormant period. Warm-season grass can be dethatched in late spring or early summer after it starts to grow. It is best not to do it in the middle or late of summer.
What Is Thatch On Lawns
When most people think of grass, they think of the long, graceful blades that stick out of the lawn. Well, thats only about half the story that grass has to tell. Grass also has below and at-ground level parts, like the crown, rhizomes and roots that help it stay healthy and spread horizontally across the ground. Although the grass blades, which are basically leaves, decompose easily, these other structures do not.
Over time, the other parts of your grass plants can build up into a spongy layer between the grass leaves and the soil. This is the thatch. A small amount of thatch is pretty normal for lawns, but too much and you risk creating a situation where water and oxygen have trouble penetrating to the grass roots, or in severe cases, roots are only anchored in thatch, making it hard for the grass to thrive and even harder to execute any on-trend landscaping ideas.
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Do Clippings Cause Thatch
Yes, clippings are a contributing factor to thatch development on a lawn. For most healthy lawns, light organic matter such as clippings will deteriorate before they have the ability to compound into visible thatch, however, the combination of too much clipping residue, alongside mulched leaves and other material, will become the foundation of thatch formation on your lawn.
How To Prep For Dethatching Your Lawn
Dethatch when your soil is moist but not soggy, so water your lawn thoroughly two days before you plan to dethatch.
If youre using a dethatching machine, be sure to mark any shallow irrigation lines, sprinkler heads or buried utility lines before starting.
Mow your lawn to half its normal height before dethatching.
If you are renting a dethatching machine, ask the rental agency to adjust the spacing and cutting depth for your grass type. The blades or tines should be set to cut no deeper than 1/2 inch into the soil. And get detailed directions on how to use the machine. Keep in mind dethatching machines can be heavy, so transport it on a truck or large van and enlist a buddy to help you load and unload it.
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Cost To Aerate And Overseed A Lawn
Aerating and overseeding cost about $800 for an average size lawn. The cost to aerate and overseed one acre is $680 to $1,050. Overseeding is the process of scattering grass seed over soil and then waiting for it to germinate. While this description leaves out some details, one important way aeration complements overseeding is that it prepares a seedbed that increases the probability that the grass seeds will germinate. Also, overseeding ensures desirable grass seeds fall into the holes where undesirable weed seeds might migrate.
Why When And How To Dethatch Your Lawn
Not all lawns need dethatching, but when your lawn does need it, knowing how to dethatch your lawn is crucial to its future. Done properly, dethatching helps restore your lawn to health and keep it beautiful in years to come. By learning why, when and how to dethatch, you can keep your thick, lush grass on track. These lawn dethatching basics can help understand:
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Why You Need To Dethatch
Some types of lawn grass are more prone to thatch buildup than others. Sometimes even the climate in the area contributes to the speed of decomposition of the mulch. When the breakdown of plant matter is slower than the buildup, then thicker thatch would develop.
An accumulation of thatch that exceeds 1. 5 cm may be deterrent to the healthy development of your lawn. When the thatch gets too thick, it could prevent the grass and the soil from getting and absorbing the needed water and nutrients. Thatching could also cause shallow root growth, root suffocation, or rot. Without regular dethatching, the thatch layer may accelerate the growth of lawn diseases and pests.
To check how much thatch your lawn has, pick a spot, preferably one where there is a noticeable discolouration or slower growth, and use a spade to dig up a small wedge. If the thatching is more than 1.5 cm, then it is time to dethatch.
Other times, though, you may not even need to dig into the grass to see the thatching. By simply walking around and looking, you may feel certain areas as spongy, or see larger areas with patches of matted thatch, making your lawn look uneven and discoloured. If you see that there is too much matted mulch all over the grass, then it is time to dethatch.
Dethatching Vs Power Raking
A power rake is one of the equipment you might choose to detach your lawn if you do not have access to a purpose-built dethatcher or vertical machine. Power raking uses a mechanically driven rake to remove excess thatch that is over a half-an-inch in thickness. Its preferred where there are too much thatch and debris to be cleared up because it can dig deeper into the grass and are more aggressive.
A dethatcher is more appropriate for simpler jobs and is generally easier to operate than a power rake. It uses steel spring tines that can dig into the grass and uproot thatch. In most cases, dethatchers are preferred to power rakes unless there is excess thatch to be removed in cases where a lawn has been left unattended for more than a year.
Power rakes are heavy machines that are normally used for commercial dethatching. Its not common to find them in homes or with small landscaping companies although they can be hired if they are needed for a specific job. They are also preferred for large lawns above an acre because they can clear more thatch within a short period as compared to normal dethatching machines.
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Additional Considerations And Costs
- DIY. Aerating your lawn as a DIY project might reduce your costs, but it can also increase your level of aggravation and time away from other, more important things. Hiring a professional saves time and increases the probability of a positive result.
- Overseeding. When overseeding, plan to stay off the lawn for at least one month. Also, be sure to water the grass lightly and frequently to encourage germination and establish the new grass. About two weeks after germination, slowly reduce the frequency of watering to encourage the seedlings to develop deep root systems.
- Weeds. Weeds are a problem in lawns no matter where you live. The best defense against lawn weeds is dense, healthy turfgrass. After aerating, keep weeds at bay by watering thoroughly and infrequently , fertilizing often, and mowing properly.
How Can You Dethatch Your Lawn
If youre noticing an excessive amount of thatch in your lawn, its time to take action. Thatch is a layer of dead grass, roots, and other organic matter that builds up over time. While a small amount of thatch is healthy for your lawn, too much can prevent water, air, and nutrients from reaching the roots of your grass. As a result, your lawn may become brown and patchy.
The good news is that dethatching is a fairly easy process. You can dethatch your lawn manually, or with a push behind lawn dethatcher, a power rake, or through aerating and tilling your lawn.
After dethatching, your lawn will be more susceptible to drought and heat stress. Be sure to water deeply and regularly during hot, dry weather. You may also want to fertilize your lawn to help it recover from the stress of dethatching.
Dethatching is an important part of lawn care. By removing the thatch from your lawn, youll allow water, oxygen, and vital nutrients to reach the roots of your grass. This will result in a healthier, more vibrant lawn.
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When To Dethatch A Lawn
Dethatch your lawn when these two things are true: the grass is actively growing, and the soil is moist. These conditions vary with grass type.
If you have cool-season grass, dethatch in the early spring or early fall for warm-season grass, Scotts recommends saving the chore for anytime from late spring through early summer just after the second mowing.
Use these schedules for aerating your lawn as well, and youll have a solid game plan for a thriving lawn.
Why Is Dethatching Important
When thatch forms, it should act as a permeable barrier between the outside elements and the grassroots. When it becomes too thick, you end up with a whole list of problems, including dead patches throughout your lawn.
For one, overgrown thatch throws off your balance of moisture in your lawn. Too much water can attract pests, encourage mold growth, and lead to erosion.
Dethatching is also critical for annual maintenance steps for your lawn, such as fertilization and overseeding. By opening up the earth to the nutrients it needs, it is easier to get ahead of larger issues by accessing and remedying the soil.
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What Is Power Raking
Power raking is the more aggressive approach to taking thatch out of your lawn. This process involves a machine about the size of a push mower that uses mechanical flails to literally dig the thatch out of your lawn. It can pick up 2 ½ 4 times more thatch than dethatching. Power raking is for lawns with a serious thatch problem.
And the process continues:
After the thatch is flailed from your lawn, the entire lawn is gone over with a mower that will mow the entire lawn while picking up the thatch. This process is much more labor-intensive than dethatching, and I joke that no do-it-yourselfer ever power raked their lawn twice because it usually ends up being more work than anticipated. Power raking is usually double the cost of dethatching if you hire a company to do it for you.
What Is Thatch What Problems Does It Cause
Thatch is every single leave, root, and crown of dead grass that stays on top or between the grass and the soil. Because its dead, this grass usually looks brownish, making the grass look duller than usual.
Thatch, however, is not necessarily harmful. It gives more bounce to the grass and often makes it look fluffier which is ideal. Also, it insulates the grass and keeps it safe even in extreme temperatures. So you can say thatch is sometimes beneficial.
But when it starts growing too much and the grass doesnt look green anymore then it is problematic, to say the least.
Because thatching is dead grass leaves, rhizomes, roots, and stolons it builds up to a thick layer. And this often happens when the organic part of the grass starts decomposing faster than the grass itself grows.
Thus, the grass gets covered with this dead organic matter, which turns vibrant green grass into brown & dull one. When this happens, you may not like the results at all.
Why? Easy it can cause problems like these:
- Makes it easy for fungi and insects to appear
- Increases overall humidity in the grass body which could cause diseases
- Prevents grass from growing as it limits access to sun, air, water, and nutrients
- Makes the grass look brownish and disorganized
- Damages the grassroots which could cause permanent growth issues
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Dethatching Per 1 Acre
Dethatching a 1-acre lawn could cost anything between $500 to $1000 depending on the condition of the grass, how long it takes to dethatch, and other factors. 1-acre lawns are quite large and might require more specialized equipment and additional services such as hydroseeding to restore good health.
Aeration: Breathe Life Into Your Lawn
The soil your lawn is growing in compresses over time. Compacted soil causes some of the same problems thatch does. The soil can become so dense water has a difficult time seeping in, grass struggles to grow, and roots gasp for air.
Aeration is the process of making holes in the lawn, which loosens the soil to improve drainage, making it easier for water, air, and fertilizer to reach the roots. It gives the roots some room to grow deeply. The result is a thicker, healthier lawn. Unfortunately, homeowners very often neglect this important maintenance practice.
There are two methods of aeration: tine or spike aeration, and core or plug aeration. Tine aeration uses tines to pierce the soil. Unfortunately, it can also further compact the soil some dont consider it to be aeration at all. Core aeration removes plugs of soil from the lawn and is the preferred method. Core aeration can also keep the thatch layer in check. Aeration equipment thats pulled behind mowers tends to be ineffective.
When heavily traveled paths on the lawn start to look weak and theres a thatch layer of an inch or more, its time to aerate. Lawns in good condition, with a half-inch or less of thatch, generally dont need to be dethatched and should only need to be aerated every other year.
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