How To Control Lawn Thatch

On the surface, lawn thatch sounds like something you don’t want any part of when it comes to taking care of your yard. If you have it, it’s not the end of the world, but you will want to take some steps to get rid of it. By doing so, you’ll help your lawn thrive.

Dethatching your lawn is an important part of your lawn care regimen because it improves its overall health. When you dethatch, you actually cut through the thatch with knife-like blades and then remove the debris.  It is a combine-like operation in which you comb out the bad stuff (thatch) that’s keeping your lawn from looking its best. 

So, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can remove and/or control lawn thatch in your yard, and what we consider works best.

Mechanical Dethatching

One way to remove thatch is by raking, typically with gasoline-powered equipment. While effective, this technique can damage your lawn by tearing up healthy grass along with the thatch.

Dethatching Rakes

Manual dethatching rakes are heavy, short-tined rakes with curved blades designed to dig into your lawn and pull up thatch as you rake. It’s surprising just how much thatch can come out of a small patch of grass. The seeds better embed into the soil rather than simply remain on top.

Dethatcher (Equipment)

Dethatching equipment goes by many names including but not limited to power rake, dethatcher, and lawn comber.

A dethatching machine uses metal blades or tines to comb across the grass and pull thatch up to the surface of the lawn. After the thatch is pulled to the surface, it can be bagged up or turned into compost.

 

Core Aeration

Lawn aeration is another way to get rid of excessive thatch. But there is a difference between aerating your lawn and dethatching it.

core-aeration

Our lawn experts feel core aeration works the best because core aeration helps loosen compacted soil, which allows the grassroots to grow and spread. Loosening the soil also helps get the water and nutrients your lawn needs deeper into the ground.

Keep Lawn Thatch From Building

Too many fertilizer applications and not watering your lawn enough can encourage thatch buildup. So, be sure to keep a good record of your treatments and watering schedule.

It also helps to know what type of grass you have. Grass-type influences how often you should be dethatching your lawn. Creeping grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and bentgrass accumulate thatch quickly and generally require at least annual dethatching while clumping grasses such as tall fescue and perennial ryegrass need dethatching no more than once every few years.

Let Lush Lawn Help

Fall is a great time to dethatch (if you haven’t already done it in the spring). Lush Lawn will be happy to core aerate your lawn and add our Soil Sweetener program. It’s designed to increase the PH level of your soil, balancing it up into a more fertile range. We also offer a Fall Lawn Care and Restoration program designed to build up your grass so it will come back stronger than ever next spring.

How To Alleviate Soil Compaction In Your Yard

Soil compaction is a primary cause of an unhealthy lawn. If your soil is too tight to penetrate, the water and nutrients it needs can’t get deep enough. But there are a few things you can do to keep your soil loose and your grass thriving. 

So, let’s take a look at what causes soil compaction and how you can alleviate it to keep your lawn healthy and beautiful. 

What Causes Soil Compaction?

what-causes-soil-compactionAccording to Michigan State University, soil compaction occurs when soil particles are packed closely together, and it tends to be more common with heavier soils like clay and loam. However, if you’re using heavy equipment on your lawn or in the garden, sandy soils are compacted. Even wheel tracks from a riding lawn mower are enough to compact your soil.

The problem may also be compounded by events that are happening to your soil year over year. The pore spaces can be reduced to the point that air and water cannot move freely and plant roots cannot grow easily into the surrounding soil. The soil could remain overly wet longer than is healthy for the plants growing there.

Other Contributing Factors

There are a few additional factors that contribute to soil compaction. They include:

Soil Tillage: Tilling your soil is actually supposed to help break it up. But if you do it too much, it actually increases soil compaction. How? By breaking the soil structure down into aggregates that are too small, which leads to fewer pore spaces. It’s soil science. 

Tilling Wet Soil: Avoid tilling in wet soil as soil compaction can occur and lead to poor root penetration in the growing season. If it rains, it’s best to wait a few days to allow the soil to become semi-dry. Always check your soil moisture before tilling.

Adding Sand: Adding sand to clay creates a compact mass that’s like concrete. 

How To Tell If Your Soil Is Compacted

soil-compactionAny plant (or grass) without proper access to nutrients, water, and air will eventually lose color, wither and die. If you’re seeing brown spots in your lawn, or if water is ponding in your yard after rainfall, your soil may be compacted.

Another sign of soil compaction is thatch. A thick layer of thatch can starve your grass — even in the best conditions. If the nutrients can’t reach the plant, it will turn brown. Thatch buildup happens if there is poor soil aeration and drainage. 

A way to find out if your soil is compacted is by determining its bulk density. Bulk density is an indicator of soil compaction. It’s calculated as the dry weight of soil divided by its volume. This volume includes the volume of soil particles and the volume of pores among soil particles.

If you find out that the density of the soil is not where it should be, you’ll have to take steps to loosen it.  

Lawn Aeration For Soil Compaction

One of the best ways to alleviate soil compaction is to aerate your lawn. A core aerator comes equipped with tines that will pull out plugs of soil and leave holes in your lawn. This will loosen the soil, and in turn, compaction decreases. 

avoid-soil-compactionLooser soil will help get air to the roots of your grass and promote root growth. Deep tine equipment is more effective at reducing soil compaction at depths below 2.5 inches. And with some equipment, there is the additional benefit of a small amount of thatch control, as the slicing or core removal also removes some thatch.

Warm-season grasses can be aerified starting in late spring through late summer. Cool-season grasses are best aerified in early fall or early spring.

At Lush Lawn, our core aeration service helps lawns stay lush and healthy year-round. We’ll use our state-of-the-art equipment to ensure optimal results. We give lawns the room they need to absorb nutrients — all while eliminating areas of standing water that can lead to lawn diseases. We recommend at least one core aeration service in the spring or fall, and even better if you’re able to aerate twice per season.

If you’re interested to see how aerating can help relieve soil compaction in your yard, contact us today.