Posts tagged ‘thatch’

When should you dethatch or aerate your lawn?


There is a debate going on among our employees about when to dethatch a lawn. Some the guys here say you should do it in the spring when the grass has established its root base. They base their opinion off of what golf courses do for their grass in the spring. Others, like myself, believe it should be done in the fall. If you dethatch your lawn late in the summer/early fall lawns are less succeptible to weeds and crabgrass establishing themselves. Whether you dethatch in spring or fall you need to make sure to give your lawn a healthy drink afterward. At least a 1/2 inch of watering should be done. If you dethacth in the spring you are going to want to make sure to use a fertilizer with a weed killer or crabgrass killer in it after you are done.  Here are a few articles I have found to support only my argument. If the other guys in the store want to defend themselves they’ll have to start their own blog:)

Late summer lawn care:

Lawn aerification: If your lawn has significant compaction problems, the period right around Labor Day and through the early fall is an excellent time to do some core aerification. Lawn aerification machines are usually available through most rental businesses.
Photo 2: Lawn aerifier. Note the hollow tines for removing soil cores. Bob Mugaas.

Be sure to rent a core aerifier, one that actually pulls cores out of the soil and redeposits them on the lawn or soil surface. The extra aeration in the soil will encourage more active root growth as well as benefit the soil microbial community. Healthy plant roots and a healthy soil microbial population make for a healthy, vigorous grass plant better able to withstand stress along with normal wear and tear of lawn activity. The cores can be left on the soil or lawn surface to naturally decompose. This will also help control the buildup of thatch in the lawn. It is best to make two or three passes over the lawn to increase the number of holes needed to maximize the benefit.

Thatch control: Occasionally, a thick layer of brown fibrous material will build-up between the soil surface and where the grass plant shoots begin to turn green. This brown fibrous mat is known as thatch. It is actually composed of both living and non-living material. Thatch develops from the regular sloughing off of plant roots and other dead and decaying parts of the grass plant. It is however, NOT composed of any grass clippings. While there may be some grass clippings left on the surface, they are not part of the true thatch layer. So, whether you pick up your clippings or not, it will make no difference on the build-up of thatch. The living component of thatch consists of some roots, rhizomes and, of course, the many microorganisms and other living creatures.
If thatch develops at a faster rate than can be broken down by microorganisms, it can accumulate to undesirable levels. Generally, thatch greater than half-inch is undesirable. Cultural practices that contribute to thatch buildup are excessive nitrogen fertilizer, overwatering, infrequent mowing, compacted soils and simply the genetics of the particular grasses. Some grasses are more prone to thatch build-up than others.

Photo 3: Vertical mower or dethatcher; sometimes referred to as a power rake. Bob Mugaas.

Late summer (i.e., early September) is a good time to work at removing excess thatch build-up. Machines known as vertical mowers or de-thatchers can be rented and used to mechanically remove some of the thatch build-up. Leaving the soil cores on the surface will also help begin to break down thatch. In fact, where very thick thatch layers exist, using both a vertical mower and core aerifier may be helpful. If this is the case, thoroughly aerify the lawn, than perform vertical mowing. This operation can be done back to back on the same day if desired. It’s a good idea to follow-up with a quarter to half-inch inch of water to reduce lawn stress incurred from the dethatching and aerification processes.

Taken from the University of Minnesota extension page—ea.html

Dethatching Drought Damaged Lawns

August 7, 2012

If your lawn has been damaged by the recent drought conditions, chances are that you will have to do some lawn repairs come fall.  Depending on the extent of the damage it might be beneficial to dethatch your lawn.  There are several ways to remove thatch from a lawn from manual removal to using power equipment.  Thatch rakes are found at most home improvement stores.  These rakes have sharp, claw like tines that grab thatch and remove it from the lawn.  This is the most labor intensive way to remove thatch.  If you are dethatching a small patch of lawn it might be easier to dethatch the lawn by using a thatch rake.  Anything over a couple of hundred square feet is best left to power equipment.  Most folks do not have hours to dedicate to the manual removal of thatch.

The most effective way to remove thatch in a lawn is through the use of a power rake.  Most home owners do not own a power rake, but they can rent one at most rental stores.  Power rakes are about the size of your average push mower and can be used by almost anyone.  Most power rakes on the market are constructed using metal blades that spin on a drum.  The blades are usually serrated, which allows them to grab the thatch in the lawn.  Power rake blades spin continuously while the machine is being propelled forward.  Most units come with a bagging system to catch the removed thatch.  There are adjustable settings on most machines which allow the user to choose the depth of the blades.  You only want to set the blades low enough to remove the thatch.  If your blades are removing chunks of dirt and living grass, then your machine is set too low.  Any rental store should provide instructions on how to properly use the machine prior to renting it out.

taken from clean-cut property services

Here’s a few more articles about lawn care, seeding, dethatching and aeration:



Lawn dethatching | Lawn gardening | Home lawn care: Gardening

Here’s a link to a great website with all sorts of good information on lawn and garden care. This particular post is talking about thatch in your lawn what it is and what you can do about it. Lawn dethatching | Lawn gardening | Home lawn care: Gardening.

For more info on what you can do here are a few blogs that we wrote on lawn care:

Lawn dethatching | Lawn gardening | Home lawn care: Gardening.

Spring Lawn Care: Thatch, Aeration, and Fertilizers

We all love when spring finally arrives in Minnesota. That is, we love it after those first few weeks when the snow first melts
uncovering months of dirt, salt, and garbage. After that it’s great. And then it snows again and life sucks but you know that its going to be better just around the corner. We may have finally reached that “corner” and it’s time to start thinking about lawn work. So where do you start? Minnesotans are so anxious to get out and get their yard time in that we can end up wrecking the very thing that we’re trying to improve. My first advice is calm down you’ve got a solid 3-4 months of outside time, don’t burn out in the first 2 weeks.

Your Lawn:
My best advice is that you don’t touch it with a tool until it dries out. This happens in about mid-April in the Twin Cities. However, it may be earlier or later depending on your yard. If it’s dry you can start by raking (by hand, not power raking). You should rake to remove loose debris but not to remove thatch at this point. Your lawn needs to be well established (in other words green and mowed) before you do anything remotely close to dethatching. You can damage the root base by using a dethatcher this early. It’s best to do any power raking or dethatching in late summer or fall.
Lets take a minute to discuss thatch. Thatch is the dead mowed grass and leaves that are left on your lawn after you mow. Your lawn needs thatch. It provides shade for the root base and replenishes nutrients back into the lawn. It can get too thick and start to choke your grass. To determine whether you need to dethatch take a spade and dig out a section of turf(don’t worry you can simply put it back and it will be fine). If there is more than 1/2 inch of thatch, (like the picture to the left) then you can consider dethatching. During the spring and early summer months if it appears that your thatch layer is too thick (more than 1/2 inch) you should core aerate the lawn instead of dethatching. Core aeration is much gentler on your grass and it leaves that nutrient rich mulch on the lawn instead of taking it away.
Core aerators take a plug of turf out of your lawn and leave it on the surface. The holes allow for air, rain, and nutrients to better reach the soil. They also introduce tiny microorganisms back to the surface that aid in the breaking down of thatch. It is best to fertilize after core aeration.
Spring time is the time for crabgrass preventer. Crabgrass preventer can first be applied from late April to early May in Minnesota. Crabgrass preventer is what’s called a pre-emergent. It is meant to be applied to the lawn before the crabgrass already showing. It must be watered into the soil for it to be effective. The best fertilizer for attacking crabgrass is Scotts Super Turf Builder with Halts. Make sure you buy the “Super Turf Builder” and not the “Turf Builder” (see pictures below) that you’ll find at the big box stores like Home Depot. This doesn’t have the same amount of fertilizer in it as the Super Turf Builder (that is the reason why they can charge what they charge for it).

Weed and feed is a broadleaf weed killer and fertilizer. Broadleaf weeds include Thistle and the most common Dandelion. Broadleaf killers are post-emergent herbicides. That means that they must be applied after the weeds are already present. It is best to apply this fertilizer from mid May to mid June.
If you do not have crabgrass or broadleaves you can always use a fertilizer without weed killer in it to feed your lawn. The best defense against any weed, be it crabgrass or dandelion, is a thick lush lawn of healthy grass. The best fertilizer for this is the Scotts Super Turf Builder.
If you need fertilizer (get a free fertilizer spreader rental with the purchase of any of our lawn fertilizers) or to rent either a core aerator or dethatcher you can come in to our store at 12700 Bass Lake Road in Maple Grove located in the Bass Lake Shopping Center. For more information contact us at 763-553-1222
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