November 14, 2014

What is Thatch and Why Do I Want it Gone?

House Exterior With LandscapeDe-thatching is an often overlooked, vitally important chore when it comes to caring for your lawn. Thatch is the layer of roots, leaves and stems that form naturally as a lawn grows and are resistant to decay. In moderation amounts, usually between 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch, thatch is a great way to keep lawns healthy with these benefits:

1. Protect the lawn from our drastic Ann Arbor Michigan winter temperatures by insulating the grass crowns.
2. Slow water loss in summer by mulching the soil.
3. Help the turf stand up to mower and foot traffic better.

What happens when thatch begins to form too thick of a layer between the grass and soil? You may begin to notice some of these symptoms of a lawn that needs dethatching:

1. Your lawn has become uneven, causing your mower to mow unevenly and even scalp your lawn.
2. Disease may start taking hold because moisture is staying trapped against the grass blades.
3. Fertilizer, insect and disease controls have stopped working because they cannot reach the soil surface.
4. You can end up wasting a lot of water because it simply cannot get through the thick layer of thatch.
5. The combination of not getting enough water and not receiving the fertilizer it needs causes your grass to form shallow roots.

So as you can see, de-thatching is a vital way to keep your lawn in top shape. So if you have been noticing a thick, spongy feel to your lawn, or it just doesn’t seem to look as green and healthy as it used too, this could be the perfect first step in rebuilding it to its former glory.

Another more hands-on method of determining if you need to de-thatch is by attempting to shove your finger completely through the thick, interwoven thatch layer to the soil. If it is too thick to get your finger through, it needs to be thinned.

Can I Do it Myself?

Yes, there are machines you can rent, or even hand thatching rakes are available, but we don’t recommend them and here is why:

1. Rakes can take hours of your time, and may not even be completely effective after all of that backbreaking work.
2. Machines are expensive to rent, and the height must be adjusted correctly. Too deep, and you may end up needing to re-seed your lawn. Thatch too high, and you’ve just wasted the rental by not getting it all.
3. You will need to be able to dispose of all the thatch you pull up, it may be as much as two or three truck loads.

When removing thatch, it’s important that the soil is dry in order to not compact it, and to avoid grass getting pulled up by the roots. When it comes time to de-thatch, we will carefully remove this layer without tearing up your soil.

When, and How Often Should I De-Thatch?

After our harsh Michigan winters, your lawn will want to start to begin growing as the soil and air warm up. After the grass has begun growing for the season, and begins producing new runners is the ideal time to de-thatch. We find that getting this vital lawn service done annually, usually in the late spring or early summer, is the best way to assure a healthy, lush lawn. There may be exceptions of course depending on your grass type, by contacting us we can offer you the best advice.

In addition to ridding your lawn of excess thatch, we can help prevent some of the common reasons thatch may form too rapidly, for example:

1. Too much nitrogen caused by over-fertilization.
2. If you have heavy clay soil.
3. Over-watering, or mowing too high.

Because the process is so tough on lawns, we can give you helpful advice on how to care for your lawn as it recovers.

How Do I Get Started?

Our landscaping service has extensive knowledge and experience with the yards of the Ann Arbor Michigan area. We would be happy to provide you with a free, no-obligation lawn evaluation if you contact us today. We would love to be able to save you time and give you the best advice on how to keep your lawn looking its best. You can relax while we do the hard work!