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What Does Dethatching Your Lawn Do

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How To Prevent Thatch Buildup Later

Improve your Lawn with Dethatching – 3 Ways How to do it for Any Budget
  • Use organic fertilizers

Organic fertilizers prevent rapid vegetation growth.

  • Aerate

Aeration helps to loosen the thatch layer and gets it integrated into the soil. Read this article if you are confused whether you should dethatch or aerate before overseeding.

  • Irrigate deeply, not frequently

Some grass species require deep irrigation, not frequent irrigation. Deep irrigation also forces the root downwards instead of upward the thatch layer.

Winter turf should be dethatched in early fall. Summer turf should be de-thatched in late spring. The timing is to help the overseed variety and ensure the grass and soil can survive the trauma of dethatching.

Wait What Maintaining My Lawn Like I Should Could Be Harming My Lawn

Over watering and over fertilization contribute to thatch build-up. Its too much of a good thing. Although infrequent mowing may be good for you, its not good for your lawn. You need to find a healthy maintenance balance for your lawn. The goal is to maintain your lawn so that the accumulated plant debris can decompose at the same rate the grass grows. Mow at a height and frequency recommended for your variety of grass. Use the 1/3 rule when mowingremove no more than one-third of the blade of grass in a single mowing.

Some believe grass clippings cause thatch, but they dont. Grass is mostly water and decomposes fairly quickly and returns nutrients to the soil. Grasscycling provides free fertilizer. Using a mulching mower helps speed decomposition of the smaller clippings.

Fertilize as recommended, using a low-nitrogen or slow release fertilizer like Milorganite.

What Is The Best Way To Dethatch

The simple solution for dethatching is to employ a lawn care specialist. You are hiring a professional, especially if your thatch is more than 2 inches thick, which may be the best option. A large amount of thatch sometimes necessitates multiple dethatching. There are several solutions and tools available if you want to do it yourself. It is important to mow your grass before beginning any of them.

Dethatching by hand: A dethatching rake is all you need for hand-dethatching. This procedure is best for a small lawn with a bit of amount of thatch.

Recommended Reading: When Is The Best Time To Water Your Lawn

Preventing Thatch Buildup From Returning

Keeping the thatch from building up so fast can keep your lawn looking better longer. It will also keep you from having to rip and tear at it with dangerous machines.

Know that some of the most-popular grass species are the most likely to have thatch. Kentucky bluegrass, for example, grows aggressively and quickly establishes itself. People love it for that reason, but it also means bluegrass produces more thatch.

Those are best for areas that see a lot of foot traffic, like sports fields. Choosing or mixing in some perennial ryegrass or tall fescue will cut down on thatch production in your lawn.

Test your soil periodically for its nutrient levels and acidity. Find out how much lime you need to keep those levels where theyll promote healthy lawn growth and microbial populations that break down thatch.

Good watering and mowing techniques, and proper fertilization can also hold down thatch. Make sure not to set your lawn mower too low, and dont fertilize too heavily, which helps thatch build up rapidly.

Lawn Looks Bad After Dethatching: Reasons And What To Do

5 Best Dethatchers For Your Lawn In 2020 (Compare Now)

Organic lawns require organic love to stay beautiful. Sometimes the lawn looks bad after dethatching. But it doesnt have to be the case.

With some simple steps and time spent, lawns can come back to life in no time. You need to understand your soil and climate first.

Time is the name of the game when it comes to dethatching.

In this article, we will cover some of the best practices to ensure your lawn looks the best even after dethatching.

Recommended Reading: What Do Lawn Care Companies Do In The Winter

Early Spring Dethatching In Snow Country Is A Bad Idea

In colder climates it has become a common ritual to dethatch as soon as the snow melts. People seem to want to get outside and do something, but dethatching at this time of year is a terrible idea. Most cool-season grass does not need to be dethatched, in which case you are just damaging the lawn. Secondly, the ground is still very wet in early spring. Walking on it compacts the soil, damaging soil structure, which makes it harder for your grass to grow. Stay off the lawn in spring.

Dethatching Gone Wrong: Lets Understand The Problem

Lets know why you are facing the bad look first. Below are some frequent issues that cause it.

  • Does The Lawn Look Brown?

You may have dethatched a bit too early in the season, and the soil may have turned brown due to the lack of protection it needs.

  • Does The Grass Look Like They Are Breaking, Or Has It Turned Into Mush?

High use of fertilizer causes this. Electric de-thatcher can cause this when improper spacing is applied.

  • Dead Grass Still Left After Dethatching?

Studies show that grass is quite beneficial to lawns and the flora-fauna involved. You may reconsider removing the last of the grass blades.

  • Lawn Looks Patchy

Well, the dethatching process includes a layer of overseeding. This is primarily to address the problem of patchiness.

Soil isnt mass-produced with absolute similarities. The natural state of soil gets reflected after dethatching, and thats okay.

  • Lawn Looks Yellow

Bright green sedge that borders on yellow is a significant problem of modern lawns.

These weeds look like grass and thrive when thatches get removed. Targeted application of fertilizer, overseeding and frequent mowing for the next couple of months should help curb their growth.

You can try acidic solutions too. However, the reaction to chemicals depends on the variety of seeds on your lawn.

  • Turf Quality Decrease

Very heavy thatch layers have more nutrients than soil itself.

Its possible that the grassroots climbed upwards rather than downwards as thats where most of the nutrition is.

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How And When To Dethatch

As thatch builds up over time, its not necessary to do this practice annually although some people will tell you otherwise.

So long as you keep an eye on the thickness of thatch in your own lawn and if it ever gets over half an inch its time to go to work.

You should always do a light dethatch prior to putting down any new seeds, too.

And certainly dethatch if your lawn has never experienced this essential process before.

For cool season grasses, its best to dethatch late summer/early fall, and do it in late spring if youre in a warm-season region.

Whatever you do, dont dethatch in the heat of summer, when your lawn is going to be already stressed as it is, and youll likely tear up the root system at the same time.

As for the how, its as simple as using a rake or dethatching tool to clear this debris from the lawn surface.

Its much less time-consuming if you use a special dethatching machine and youll be pleasantly surprised to know theyre relatively inexpensive these days.

Check out this article on the best dethatchers on the market for some excellent suggestions, along with some more advice on how to dethatch your lawn properly.

And you can watch the video below for some more top tips on dethatching and overseeding.

What Is Dethatching A Lawn

DON’T DETHATCH Your LAWN Before Watching – Your Questions Answered

Dethatching is the mechanical removal of thatch, made up primarily of grass, leaves, stems, grass roots and lateral weed growth. It is usually done with a gasoline-powered or electric dethatching machine, but you can also do it by hand with a dethatching rake.

A healthy lawn needs a thin layer of thatch to work as a barrier between the grass roots and the elements, insulating against extreme variations in soil moisture and temperature, Harbit says. When too much thatch builds up over a short amount of time, however, it can cause a number of issues and stifle the growth of your grass.

Thatch inhibits nutrients, air and water from reaching the root layer of your lawn, resulting in a shallow root system and issues with fungus. Wet thatch can retain too much water during rainy seasons, leaving grass roots susceptible to rot. Grass roots may also grow in the thick thatch layer instead of the soil, making your grass weak and vulnerable to drought conditions and other stresses. Dense thatch can harbor insects and diseases and inhibit fertilizer absorption.

To avoid compromising the long-term health of your lawn, its important to take care of thatch buildup as soon as it becomes an issue. If your lawn is extremely bouncy underfoot or you cant see the soil between the grass blades, you may want to check your thatch layer.

Also Check: How To Remove Dead Moss From Lawn

How Often Should I Dethatch My Lawn

You can dethatch your lawn once a year to keep thatch at bay. But since thatch usually builds up over time, how often you detach will depend on the lawn type and soil conditions.

Cold season grass lawns are widely known to produce the least amounts of thatch, and you can dethatch every couple of years during fall or spring seasons. Warm-season grass lawns, however, generate thatch at faster rates, and you must dethatch annually during late fall or summer.

Lawns with acidic, wet, and soggy soils produce thatch faster than it is being broken down, and theyll need dethatching more often than lawns with loamy or sandy/loam soils. Test your lawn soil to determine if it hinders microbial activities that are responsible for breaking thatch. If the soil type falls in that category, then youll need to dethatch your lawn more frequently.

Performing A Turf Wedge Test

  • 1Grab a spade or trowel shovel. A quick and easy test is to dig up a chunk of the lawn turf and actually look at a side view of the thatch layer. Grab whatever kind of shovel or hoe that you have and take it to the portion of lawn you want to check.XResearch source
  • If you have a trowel, this works fine because you only need to look at a small wedge of turf.
  • 2Dig out a wedge of turf. Work the shovel into the ground making sure you get down to the soil level. Cut a circle of turf out of the ground so you can pull it up completely out of the ground. There is no need to take out a large chunk, just enough to see the grass, the thatch, and the soil.
  • 3Use a ruler to measure the thickness of the thatch. Hold the chunk of turf up so you can see it. Pull it off of the shovel by the grass or simply examine it on the shovel. Hold a ruler or measuring tape up to the thatch. Hold the zero mark right at the top of the soil. If the thatch goes past ¾ inch , its a good idea to dethatch the lawn.XResearch source
  • If you have a large lawn and some time, its worth checking a few distinct sections of the lawn. You may not need to detach the entire lawn, and doing a few tests will save you time in the long run.
  • Read Also: How To Kill Crabgrass In Centipede Lawn

    How To Prevent Thatch Buildup

    1. Use organic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are slow release and dont cause rapid growth of vegetation which can cause thatch problems. Organic fertilizers also build soil structure and promote microbial activity.

    2. Cut your lawn frequently, and/or bag your clippings. This will decrease the amount of organic matter your lawns soil has to break down.

    3. Core Aerate. Core aeration has many benefits and is great to add to your lawn care program. If you cant do it every year then every other year is still a big help.

    4. Irrigate deeply, and less frequently. If you have an irrigation system then set a watering schedule that focuses on less watering days, but for a longer watering duration. Deep watering causes roots to grow deep. Frequent, shallow watering causes a shallow root system and is more likely to cause thatch problems.

    5. Apply liquid aeration. Liquid aeration is a great substitute if you dont want to go through the labor of core aeration. Air 8 is a great choice for liquid aeration. Liquid aeration creates little pores in your soil and allow in air and nutrients.

    6. Increase microbial activity with bio stimulants. Spraying bio stimulants over your lawn has so many benefits and is one of the best ways to improve soil structure.

    Can Damage Existing Grasses

    How To Dethatch And Seed A Lawn

    Not everyone has a vertical mower specifically designed to dethatch. And, unfortunately, the process of manual dethatching involves aggressive raking that can damage healthy turf. Remember, living grasses work their way through thatch creating a tangled layer. Removing the dead thatch will inevitably uproot some healthy greenery as well.

    Now, if your lawn is in good condition, it will probably recover from any damage it incurs during the dethatching process. But if your turfs health is compromised, consider waiting until its healthier to dethatch it. This brings us to our next point

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    When And How Often To Aerate Your Lawn

    This depends on your type of soil. If your lawn is growing on sandy soil, youll only need to aerate it once a year during springtime. If you have clay soil, you can aerate your lawn 2-3 times per year.

    Aerate during fall to give the thatch plugs enough time to decompose over the winter period, leaving behind all the nutrients for better growth come spring.

    You can also aerate the ground just before your lawn soil temperature reaches 55 F in the spring. This will make it easier to put down a good weed pre-emergent to help control weeds such as crabgrass in your lawn.

    Fertilizer/lawn Feed/weed Killers Become More Effective

    If you have a thick layer of thatch covering your lawn, its going to act as a barrier to any lawn care product youre trying to put down.

    Fertilizers, feeds, and weed killers are going to be much less effective if they cant get to where they need to be.

    Dethatching could well be your answer, especially if youve tried everything else, and youre not seeing any conclusive results.

    Just remember not to over fertilize, and make sure youre using a weed killer/preventer thats safe for use on lawns.

    Also Check: How To Get Rid Of Lawn Insects

    Is Aeration Better Than Dethatching

    They both serve to help key nutrients like fertilizer, water or oxygen reach your lawn’s root zone so that your grass can continue to grow and thrive. However, aeration results in the breakdown of compacted soil whereas dethatching removes layers of thatch, or dead grass and other debris, from the top of the soil.

    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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    Allows Fertilizers To Reach The Soil

    If you try to apply fertilizer on a lawn that is full of thatch, chances are that the fertilizer will not reach the soil and serve its purpose. The only way to make sure that the fertilizer you apply works is by dethatching your lawn. Dethatching will ensure that the fertilizer applied reaches the soils and spreads uniformly throughout the soil.

    In addition, the health of your roots will also improve significantly. The roots of a plant are very important. If the roots of your grass are not healthy, there is no way that your lawn will grow to be beautiful.

    The bottom line is thatch is nothing but a layer of dead plant materials and grass on the surface of your soil. There are many benefits associated to it, but too much of them can be bad for your lawn.

    Some people may have been misled about the reasons for dethatching, but the truth is, detaching is the only way to improve the health and beauty of your lawn. So, if you havent thought about dethatching your lawn, its advised that you dethatch it at least once every year.

    How To Detatch Your Lawn

    There are a variety of methods to dethatch your lawn.

    First you can simply hire a professional. This is recommended if you have excessive thatch, are short on time, or you simply hate working in your yard.

    If you dont mind a little sweat, there are plenty of DIY dethatching techniques. These are mainly manual or with the use of power tools.

    The best way to decide if you would like to use a dethatching rake or a power tool is evaluating the size of the area, as well as how good of physical shape you are in.

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