The questions of what is and isn’t thatch, and what are its causes are frequently asked by many homeowners with lawns. The following tips will hopefully provide you with the answers to these, and other questions about thatch. This is a recommended annual maintenance tip for when lawn is dry and to help encourage lawn growth.
What is Thatch?
Thatch is a layer of organic material which lies in between the grass and the soil. It is a mixture of both living & dead material. This is a normal part of a healthy turf grass lawn. Thatch is actually necessary to protect your lawn from traffic damage. The problem arises when this layer becomes too thick and begins to affect your lawns health. Dethatching most likely will leave your lawn looking a mess for a couple of weeks. However, over time it will recover making dethatching your lawn worthwhile.
Grass Clippings May Not Be The Problem
Generally your lawn clippings can be broken down by the existing microorganisms in your lawn. That being said, thatch occurs when plant material develops more quickly than these can decompose. Thatch is the build-up of this material which will discourage the growth of your lawn as well as its health. Proper lawn care practices will help to avoid this.
How Does It Affect My Lawn
When the thatch builds up past 25mm it will impede the ability of your lawn to receive the correct amount of nutrients it needs. Water, air and nutrients will all be restricted from reaching your lawns roots. As a result, your lawn will be susceptible to drought and the dry thatch layer will create a barrier that restricts the benefits of irrigation. A think thatch layer also harbors fungi and the additional stress makes your lawn susceptible to pest damage.
Fixing Thatch Problems
As we said earlier, the microorganisms in your lawn are usually able to deal with preventing a thatch problem, but there are a few things you can do to help. One of the first things you can do is core aeration this will enable access to air, water and nutrients. As has been noted in our other bulletins, if your thatch layer is greater than 1 inch (2cm) thick, you should seriously consider dethatching. Sometimes called scalping, dethatching is simply the vigorous raking of your lawn to enhance its ability to allow air and nutrients to reach the root growth.
Mechanical dethatchers are known as vertical mowers, power rakes, verticutters and dethatchers and all perform in the same manner. Spinning blades pull some of the material to the surface as it cuts through the thatch layer. Most lawn care and equipment centres will have them. Dethatching your lawn should only be done when the lawn is dry, and the weather is cool.
Some of the other things you can do in order to avoid thatching is to always mow to a reasonable height on a regular schedule. You can also get a soil nutrient analysis done and help your soil by reducing nitrogen fertilizer and adding potassium, phosphorous and lime as dictated by the analysis. Check out our blog post on scalping for advice and tips on how to remove thatch from your lawn, especially if you have a buffalo lawn such as DNA certified Sir Walter.
To get some more advice on lawn care call our team on (07) 3114 8230. You can also to pop in and order in person at our sales office on 1/243 Bradman Street, Acacia Ridge. The office opens Monday to Friday 7am to 5pm and Saturday 7am to 12pm.
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