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When To Dethatch Lawn In Michigan

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What Is The Aerating And Thatching Process


Thatching is the process of cutting away at dead grass, then removing it so nutrients can reach the healthy grass roots. With lawn aeration, a machine or tool punches holes into your yard for the same purpose of dethatching: allowing nutrients more immediate access to the roots.

These two processes may work in tandem. Although, aeration may work best for lawns with clay-rich soil. Contact a lawn dethatching service near you for a professional recommendation.

Talk to Lawn Dethatching Pros Near You

Determine If The Lawn Needs Dethatching

Wondering when is the best time to dethatch a lawn? If water runs off without penetrating the grass, then it may be time to dethatch the lawn. Thatch is a thin layer of organic debris that forms between the leaf blades and roots. Examine your grass for an underlying layer of thatch. It will look like a matting of old, grayish-brown grass stems that have grown together.

A thin layer of thatch provides insulation against temperature extremes and fluctuations in soil moisture. However, if your lawn has more than one-inch layer of thatch above the soil surface, the lawn needs to be dethatched.

Primary causes of thatch are overwatering, over fertilizing, and mowing too high. To help prevent thatch from forming, use a mulching mower.

How To Use A Dethatcher To Get Rid Of Thatch

A lawn dethatcher is a small machine thats fitted with spring tines, which rotate and dislodge the thatch layer. Dethatchers are a great choice for less than half an inch thick thatch, and are easy to use. You just start up the machine, set the blade height and then simply pass it over the areas of grass that need dethatching.

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Keep Your Lawn Watered

Newly overseeded lawns need consistent moisture with the goal of encouraging the growth of deep, healthy roots. For the first four days, your goal is to keep the seed and soil moist but not saturated, with frequent light waterings twice a day. For the next 5 days, water more heavily every other day. Finally, water as needed to prevent wilting. This as-needed watering approach will encourage the growth of a deep, healthy root system for your newly seeded lawn. The existing grass will help keep the seed in place, shade the soil, and slow evaporation.

Overall, lawn overseeding is an easy way to provide the TLC that your lawn needs for long-term health. One thing to keep in mind is thinking about pairing your overseeding process with a fall aeration prior to overseeding. Aerating is the tried and true way of overseeding a Michigan lawn. It primes your lawn for overseeding, allowing the best soil conditions possible for lawn growth. To learn more about our aeration services, .

Is It Too Late To Dethatch My Lawn

Lawn Dethatching
  • Dethatching early in the spring may damage new crowns and doing so in early to mid-summer puts additional stress on grass during hot, dry periods. Dethatching in mid- to late fall is too late in the season, because it leaves the grass weak and damaged during the winter and the lawn might not recover in the spring.

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Should I Water Before Dethatching

If there is more than a half an inch of dead grass that has accumulated and is beginning to make your grass weaker, it is time to dethatch your lawn. Advice on dethatching in General: The day before you want to dethatch your grass, water it thoroughly. Reduce the height of your grass to half of what it would normally be.

Signs Your Lawn Needs Dethatching

So how to break up that dense layer of thatch without ripping your lawn to shreds? And how do you know when you need to?

You must dig down in your lawn and see what you have. With a trowel or other tool, dig out several patches. If you see a half-inch or more, consider dethatching.

Your lawn will likely exhibit other symptoms if it needs dethatching.

Signs of excess thatch include:

  • Dry spots.
  • Increased insect problems.

Dont remove thatch when the turf is weak or under stress, warns the Penn State Extension. That increases the chance youll injure the turf and decreases chances for its healthy recovery.

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When To Dethatch Lawn In Michigan

The optimal time to de-thatch a lawn is when the grass has started growing for the season and has began generating new runners. We have found that having this important lawn service performed once a year, often in the late spring or early summer, is the most effective approach to ensure a lawn that is robust and full of life.

Why Should You Aerate Your Lawn

Spring Dethatching Lawn Care YES or NO?

Grass roots need air, water, and nutrients to grow thick and strong just like any other plant. When soil becomes compacted, even slightly, it inhibits the flow of the essentials that support thicker, healthier turf growth.

A layer of compacted soil just 1/4 to 1/2 inches thick can make a significant difference in the health and beauty of your lawn.

Aeration creates holes down into the soil to alleviate compaction so air, water, and nutrients can reach your grass roots.

Deprived of their basic needs by compacted soil, lawn grasses struggle in stressful situations, such as heat and low rainfall, and lose their healthy, rich color and strength. This is when your grass starts to look a little more like hay and feel a little more like it, too.

Your grass will gradually thin and eventually die out completely for lack of access to the essential nutrients it needs.

Even a single aeration session can open the avenue for these essentials to reach their mark and put your lawn back on an upward trend.

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Weed Control Green Zone

Maximum Health, Minimal ChemicalsDeclaring an all-out war on weeds, pests, and disease is so 20th century. We prefer a more integrated approach to managing problem plants and pests , led by your team of experienced Northern Michigan Escapes technicians.

These are people who know your neighborhood and the nuances and microclimates of your yard like the back of their green thumbsprofessionals who dont apply fertilizer by the truckload but, rather, employ scientifically sound and environmentally sensitive practices to deliver far more effective results.

Weeds, Insects, or Disease? No problem.Reducing the stress on your lawn is job one. Optimal growth of grasses which naturally choke out problem plants and pesky bugs and diseases requires a smart blend of fertilizer, proper mowing, and watering methods, plus aeration and dethatching. The best part: In fixing one problem, this method doesnt create an even bigger one.

Learn more about what you can do to rid your lawn of problem weeds, insects, and disease while being responsible to the environment. For a free detailed estimate call 459-3322.

How To Tell If Your Grass Needs To Be Reseeded

When Michigans snowy winters melt away and spring returns, you may notice signs of damage on your lawn. The larger and more extensive the damage is, the more likely it is that you will need to reseed. Common forms of damage that warrant spring seeding include:

  • Grub Damage If grubs and other pests eat away at your lawn, they will leave dead or dying patches that may not be able to recover on their own. You will need to reseed, though wait to do this until after you have gotten rid of the grubs.
  • Winter Damage Michigans frigid conditions can sometimes cause serious damage to grass, as can the tactics that homeowners use to keep those conditions at bay. If you use salt to de-ice, for example, that salt may harm your grass to the point that it isnt able to grow back in certain areas. Spring seeding reverses this damage.
  • Animal Damage Domestic and wild animals both cause damage to your grass. If your dog urinates on the lawn, for example, the grass that has been affected may wilt or die entirely. The more severe the damage, the more likely it is that you need to reseed.
  • Snow Mold Snow mold is a fungus that attacks your grass during the winter. As with grubs, make sure you have fully removed the mold before you reseed.

The best time to reseed is when the soil has warmed up, but there still isnt much competition from crabgrass and weeds. By seeding at this time, you ensure that the grass seeds can germinate early and grow into lush, sturdy grass.

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How Do You Pick Thatch After Dethatching

If you are worn out from raking and are ready to enjoy the lovely fall weekends without having to do any yard work, you should seriously consider purchasing a lawn sweeper that you can pull behind behind your vehicle. After dethatching, lawn sweepers are the most effective tools for collecting debris such as dead leaves, pine needles, grass clippings, and old grass .

When Is The Right Time To Dethatch

Landscape Maintenance

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.

Cool season grasses should be done in early fall since this is the time when grass grows the best.

Dethatching in fall results in fewer weed problems.

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Apply The Right Amount Of Fertilizer

Part of the reason you have a lot of thatch is you have a lot of grass growing on your lawn.

To cut this, apply only enough fertilizer to maintain your lawns desired growth and color.

To tell the amount and type of fertilizer you need to apply, have your soil tested in your local laboratory.

In addition to applying the right fertilizer, you also should apply the fertilizer at the right time.

For example, its wise you apply it in fall instead of spring as fall fertilization has resulted in less rapid grass growth.

When Should I Aerate My Lawn

Two options are generally best: either the spring or fall, depending on the climate you live in and the type of grass your lawn is sewn with. For warm-season grasses, you would want to start lawn aeration as soon as the soil has thawed in the spring.

Cooler temperatures favor aerating your lawn in the fall to prepare your lawn for the harsh winter months. In actuality, the difference between lawn aeration in the spring and fall is minimal.

While some experts maintain that doing so in the fall in colder climates is better for your lawn, you can determine which of those two seasons is better for you, as long as you aim for your grasses peak growing period.

As for how often you should aerate your lawn, high-traffic areas and clay-heavy soils should be aerated once to twice a year, while most average lawns will thrive with annual aeration.

If youre not sure whether to aerate or not, check for grass that looks stressed, hard soil, or water puddling in your lawn after rain, as these can all be signs of soil compaction.

To be sure you need to aerate your lawn, conduct a simple screwdriver test. When soil is dry and compacted, it gets too firm. To run the screwdriver test, simply grab any screwdriver you have, though one with a 6 shaft works best, take it to your lawn, and try to plunge it into the soil by hand. If you meet resistance, its time to break out the lawn aerator.

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Stay Away From Pesticides

As much as you want to have a healthy, pest-free lawn, you should avoid using pesticides on your lawn.

This is because pesticides affect the microbial and earthworm populations necessary for decomposing the thatch layer.

If you have to use pesticides, use them when its necessary.

This is after all other possible measures have failed, and you have ascertained that the pest problem can only be solved with chemicals.

Should You Dethatch The Entire Lawn

Dethatching a lawn Yes or No?

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.

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How Often To Dethatch

How often you should dethatch depends on how fast the layer builds, and this depends on several factors. For example, lawns that are over-watered, growing in heavy clay soils, or are over-fertilized can accumulate thatch layers more rapidly than lawns receiving proper care and maintenance.

The grass species also influences thatch buildup. For example, the Missouri Botanical Garden states that bermudagrass , hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 10, can build a thick thatch layer within several months and require annual dethatching. Perennial ryegrass species, such as English ryegrass , hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8, produce little thatch and only require dethatching every few years, says the Missouri Botanical Garden.

When To Dethatch A Lawn And How Often

It’s important to choose the right time of year to dethatch, depending upon the type of grass you have and your climate.

Dethatching is tough on a lawn, so do it when the lawn will have the best chance to recover. Don’t dethatch if you’re in a drought or a heat wave. Ideally, there should be about 45 days of good growing conditions after you dethatch so the grass will recover without weeds taking over. Generally, late spring and early fall are the best times, but a lot depends upon your grass and whether it grows during warm or cool weather.

Warm season grasses such as zoysia, Bermuda and buffalo shouldn’t be dethatched in March or April, when a late frost will hurt new growth. Dethatching in fall will make them weak in winter. The best time in most areas is late spring or early summer, when these grasses are growing and producing new runners. Cool season grasses such as bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass are less likely to need dethatching, but if they do, the best time tends to be early fall. Reseeding may be necessary after dethatching. Bluegrass also can be dethatched in early spring after it has begun to turn green.

Read on for more good lawn care information.

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Is It Better To Dethatch Or Aerate

Dethatching and aerating seem to do the same thing, but theres time for each. So should you dethatch or aerate? Core aerating not only breaks up thatch buildup but also relieves compacted soil.

Dethatching mostly loosens the top layer of soil and also removes the layer of debris from the soil. Dethatching can really help when overseeding your lawn.

Can Dethatching Harm The Lawn


Mann suggests caution when dethatching your lawn. Theres the possibility of removing too much plant material at once, which would significantly increase recovery time, he warns. Also of concern is desiccation. With so many wounds, grass plants may dry out and die.

If your lawn is already compromised, dethatch with a rake or dethatching machine with rake tines. This method removes the layer of thatch without penetrating the soil beneath, so there is less chance of further damaging your grass.

Otherwise, opt for a dethatching machine with thin blades that cut through the thick layer of thatch into the soil. Scarifiers are much more effective in removing thatch, but also more aggressive and only recommended if your lawn is in good health.

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How Much Dethatching Costs

Simple, motorized dethatching machines can run from the low $100s to nearly $300. Tow-behind dethatchers can vary widely, from about $70 to almost $3,000, depending on its size and features.

Nonmotorized options can run as low as $35 for a simple thatching rake. A gas-powered version can be rented from around $50.

Slicing dethatchers, like other options, come in a wide variety. One option is an attachment that fits on a regular walk-behind tiller, which runs about $80. Push, walk-behind and tow-behind options can range from as low as $39 to more than $350.

Rental options are available for slicers, too, with prices in the ballpark of $110 per day.

Choose A Diversified Seed Mix

Having a balanced mixture of fescue types , bluegrass types and perennial ryegrass limits the amount of permanent damage insects, disease and drought stress can inflict throughout the warmer season. For example, one type of grass may be highly affected by drought stress, while another many not. Including different types of seed in your mix minimizes the amount of stress that your lawn is susceptible to from one particular stressor. Think of this as having a diversified investment in your lawn!

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Thatch: A Barrier To Healthy Lawns

Thatch is a layer between the grass and the soil made up of interwoven accumulated dead and living grass shoots, stems, crowns, and roots. It creates a barrier between the soil and the green grass you so adore. A thin layer of thatch is goodabout a half-inch. It helps maintain steady soil moisture and temperature. It becomes problematic when its thicker.

Thatch can harm lawns. Its difficult for water to penetrate a thick thatch layer, causing water to run off instead of soaking in. It can harbor insects and lawn diseases, and grass may begin growing in the thatch layer instead of the soil, producing shallow root systems and exposing it to greater temperature extremes. It can block air, nutrients, and pesticides from reaching the roots.

You can tell if your lawn has a thatch problem when water runs off the lawn instead of soaking and youll begin to notice grayish-brown matts. To determine how much thatch has accumulated, cut out a wedge of lawn about two-inch deep. It should be fairly easy to identify the thatch layer between the soil and grass.

Contributing to thatch build-up are the three things you already do to maintain your lawn: mow, water, and fertilize. Compacted soil can also contribute to thatch build-up.

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