Dethatching your lawn is not a common task, and many lawns only need it occasionally as long as they’re being aerated about once per year. Because this is a somewhat invasive process, you do not want to do it more often than necessary. But if your lawn really needs it, doing so may make the difference between a verdant bed of grass and a languishing lawn.
So what is thatch, and how do you know when you’ve got too much of it?
Right above your lawn’s topsoil, there is a small accumulation of organic material called thatch. It consists of the stems, roots, and blades that create your grass bed, and it provides a protective layer of insulation over your soil.
Thatch buildup is natural and healthy, up to a height of about 1/2 to 3/4 inches. Anything thicker begins to starve your topsoil, thereby harming your grass’s health.
Some grasses are more prone to thatch than others. Zoysia grass, for instance, tends to develop more thatch than St. Augustine grass. If you aren’t sure which grass type you have in your yard, or how to tell whether you’ve got too much thatch, feel free to reach out to Allen Green Lawns for some assistance and a service quote.
An overabundance of thatch has multiple causes:
- Compacted soil that hasn’t been aerated has a harder time absorbing organic matter, leaving it to build up and choke out water and nutrients.
- Mowing infrequently can promote excessive thatch. A small amount of thatch is pulled away when you mow, and neglecting this chore allows it to accumulate.
- Over-watering and over-fertilizing can cause your grass to develop more quickly than the topsoil can absorb decaying organic material.
When and How to Dethatch
As mentioned before, you only want to dethatch your yard when you’re sure it’s necessary. Measuring thatch buildup can be messy, so reach out to your local lawn care professional for assistance if you’re unsure whether the thatch in your yard has reached an excessive depth.
Lawn experts can do a free soil test of your lawn that is several inches deep, creating a diagram of sorts for you to examine. If you see more than 3/4 inch of thatch sitting between your soil and grass blades, you will know when it’s time to take action.
Power rakes are commonly used to dethatch, as they work more aggressively than an aerator. They use vertical blades that punch holes into your lawn, pulling up clods of thatch and allowing your soil to breath.
These are not common tools to be found in your neighbor’s garage, so you may need to rent one from a landscaping company or a gardening shop. Once the job is done, give you lawn a good watering to rejuvenate the soil and encourage nutrient absorption.
For more helpful information about the difference between aerating and dethatching your lawn, check out this article from our friends at TLC Landscapes.