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Thatch: Why It’s There, What It Is, Why We Remove It

by | May 8, 2019 | Landscaping Tips, Lawn Maintenance

Thatch is a layer of organic material that develops between vegetation and the soil surface. Roots, stems, and fibers from grass that accumulate faster than microorganisms can break them down build up  and tangle within the lawn. Some thatch can help protect roots while too much will prevent oxygen and nutrients from reaching the soil. While there are methods to manage thatch, physical removal is typically necessary for a successful growing season.

Power rakes alleviate a thatch heavy lawn by dragging rotating tines across the surface to break up matted tangles. This service is usually performed at the beginning of Spring. To help manage thatchthatch throughout the growing season it is good to keep in mind that compacted soil tends to shed rainwater, fertilizer, or insect control products rather than absorb it. Aeration, the act of promoting air movement within ground soil, is an effective tool in reducing thatch and promoting healthy turf growth. By using a vertical mower with blades perpendicular to the ground the soil is broken up with organic debris being brought to the surface and deposited above the thatch layer. As this matter is dissolved by rainfall and reabsorbed into the soil the number of microbes that speed thatch decomposition increases. Removing thatch or performing an aeration should be done professionally & with the turf can withstand the stress as drought stricken or weak turf can be damaged by the methods described.

Maintaining a proper pH balance through the use of lime and fertilizer can also help alleviate thatch.  Nitrogen heavy fertilizer, however, promotes root and stem tissue growth which we know makes up the majority of thatch. If the turf root system resides in the layer of thatch the resulting compound retains heat and dries out quickly which poses detrimental effects for your lawn. In an aerated lawn the soil is loose enough to allow new roots to develop where they should.

Let’s clear up an urban legend while we are at it. Fresh grass clippings are not major contributors to thatch. While it may seem counter-intuitive that leaving the clippings on the turf will not eventually build-up, freshly cut grass blades are mostly water and break down very quickly. Organic matter that can decompose faster than it accumulate feeds the good bacteria that resides in turf.

See the incredible difference a thorough de-thatching can do!



Call us to schedule your spring clean up and dethatching today! LCM PLUS invites you to browse our portfolio of work. Call, Click, or Visit our office! Our experienced professionals deliver trustworthy service held to the highest standard with impeccable attention to detail. LCM PLUS services include residential, commercial, and municipal projects.


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