Dethatch your way to a Healthy lawn

by teddletonmr

The first step to having a beautiful lawn begins with lawn thatch. How much is too much….

Rare thinking homeowners like you and me, absolutely want to have a beautiful lawn. What other reason would we have to even question, what lawn thatch is, or what to do about it anyway. Hey by the way, here is an often-overlooked lawn care tip you may not know. One half inch or less layer of lawn thatch actually protects grass plants, and contributes to a healthy lawn. However, on the other hand too much of a good thing is bad. For instance, over fertilizing, soil compaction, reseeding at the wrong time of year and a thick layer of lawn thatch, which is by the way three quarters of an inch or more, contributes too many lawn grass problems. Bringing us to the real reason, you are here, why to dethatch your way to a healthy lawn any way. No worries, you are in the right place, as you continue reading the article you will learn what you need to know about the importance of lawn thatch.

What is lawn thatch?

Lawn thatch is made-up of many organic materials found in our yard that do not readily decompose. Small bits of sticks, grass, twigs, and other fibrous plant materials such as straw and leaf litter. Accumulate around the base of grass plants creating a barrier on the surface of our lawn’s soil, this thatch barrier serves to block the absorption of healthy nutrient, moisture and oxygen levels in the soil contributing to lawn diseases, molds, insect infestation and soil compaction stressing our lawn grasses causing the grass to turn yellow, brown or die all together.   

How to reveal exactly how much lawn thatch is in your grass

Still with me, cool, your grass thirsts for life sustaining nutrients and moisture, much the same as you thirst for information on creating a beautiful lawn.

Revealing how much lawn thatch is in our lawns is really quite simple. First, pull a plug of soil from the turf. This is much easier to accomplish when our lawns soil is moist. After a good soaking rain or deep watering is the best time. The next step is kind-a-like the ole cutting a small plug in a watermelon to see if it is ripe. Ok, you never cut a plug out of a watermelon to see if it was ripe. It works like this, make a series of cuts through your sod making a square or triangle shape, about two and a half inches deep and about the size of the palm of your hand. The goals hear is to pull a plug with the root structure of the grass intact. That way after we visually check the amount of thatch in our lawn, we can easily replace the plug back to where it came and the grass survive

We can use several garden or kitchen tools to remove a plug of soil from our lawn. You may even consider using a large butcher knife. Just make sure it is not your spouse’s favorite kitchen knife. We can also use a small garden spade or one of those lawn pluggers professional landscapers uses. You know the ones that they use to move plugs of grass from one location in the yard to another. Work great for pulling plugs from many different places in our yard making it easy to measure the thatch layer. Just remember to keep in mind. Different areas of the lawn will have more or less thatch.

Using a mulching mower under and around trees in fall mulching all the leaves will increase the amount of organic material that does not readily decompose. Discharging lawn clippings against a fence, storage shed, or the foundation of our home also contributes to the build-up of a damaging thatch layer. Subsequently it is highly likely certain spaces of your lawn will suffer the ill effects of a thatch barrier more so than other areas of our lawns.

Using this method to locate zones in your lawn with too much thatch, and dethatching only those problem areas. Will go a long way to improving the overall health of our lawns, while not causing harm stressing an otherwise healthy yard where dethatching is not needed. Oh by the way, in the event one of your nosy neighbors ask what you are doing, tell him or her you are looking for a buried treasure and ask them to help, that should be good for a laugh or two.

Using the 5 in 1 landscape plugger is easy!

Removing lawn Thatch

Greenworks dethatcher The truth of the matter, removing lawn thatch or dethatching a lawn as it were is a lot of back breaking work to be sure. However, the more effort you put into achieving your goal of having a beautiful lawn, your likelihood of success will increase exponentially. There is no guarantee, other than to say, it is a certainty that our dreams of a beautiful lawn will not come true without such efforts giving us opportunity to succeed.

 

Greenworks electric lawn dethatcher

GreenWorks 27022 10 Amp 14" Corded De...
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3 Steps to dethatching a lawn

Step one. First thing and this is extremely important, only dethatch the lawn when it is dry. Using a dethatcher on the lawn when it is wet will cause more damage than benefit to our grass. Speaking of the grass, before removing the thatch with a dethatching rake or power dethatcher, cut the grass shorter than normal, do not scalp the lawn just cut it to around two inches tall.

Step two. Select the dethatching method best suited for the area of the lawn you will be working. Large areas of the lawn will take forever and a day using a long handled thatch rake, although great for small, tight, spaces not so good for large areas of a lawn. Instead when dethatching large lawns, rent a gas-powered dethatcher, sometimes called power-rake. Newer models will not only dethatch a lawn quicker and more efficiently, using one of the  Blue Bird gas-powered dethatcher also picks-up lawn thatch at the same time, making the job of disposing of the thatch much easier.

FYI, in the event you are like me, renting lawn and garden tools just goes against every fiber of your being that is ok. Many of us would rather own our own garden tools whenever possible anyway, right. In any case, I have taken the liberty of researching what is available for purchase without us spending an arm and a leg on high priced commercial dethatcher. Here are the best garden tools for dethatching our lawns I could find anywhere online.

For use in small tight spaces around the yard, the Ames True Temper 1914000 adjustable thatching rake, with a 54-inch wood handle will do a good job for less than $35 and not break the bank. (ASIN. B00004S1RW)

Looking for an electric dethatcher, you will find the Greenworks 27022 14-inch 10 amp electric dethatcher a good deal for under $140 at amazon. (ASIN. B0030BG1HM)

Many of us have a Mantis mini tiller cultivator we use in our flower and vegetable gardens. Mantis has a dethatching attachment available through amazon for under $135, Mantis Tiller 5222-00-02 Dethatcher Attachment, (ASIN: B000FIWUNC)

Step three. Adjust the dethatcher so as not to damage the existing grass plants. It is far better to make two gentle passes over the lawn, the second ninety degrees of the first pass. Than one aggressive, pass digging up the lawn and destroying the healthy plants. The object is to set the machine up so the flail blades Wisk through the blades of grass gently as possible, and lift the thatch away from the base of the grass plants and soil, not digging dirt cultivating our lawns soil.

After reading this article, I believe you will agree the first step to having beautiful lawn remains, dethatch your way to a healthy lawn and enjoy your success.

Buy your 5 in 1 landscape plugger here

5-in-1 (Standard) Planting Tool, Turf Plugger, Bulb Plant...
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Ames Dethatching Rake work well in small spaces

True Temper 1914000 Adjustable Thatching Rake with 54-Inc...
$50.83  $36.89

The Mantis mini tiller with this dethatcr attachments works well in medium sized lawns

Mantis Tiller 7321-00-02 Aerator/Dethatcher Attachment Combo
$169.95  $169.94

Mantis Tiller Cultivator

Mantis 7250-00-02 3-Speed Electric Tiller/Cultivator

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Mantis 7225-00-02 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Tiller/Cultivator (CARB Compliant)

Cultivates close to plants without disturbing roots; works great in narrow rows. Tines reverse for shallow cultivating top soil. Cushioned shock-absorbing grips for ...

$329.95  $319.99

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Enjoy your lawn and gardens. teddletonmr

More of Mike's helpful tips.

Mike Teddleton is a father, husband, and writer whose quality of life demands, he constantly research and learn what, why and how things work, or occasionally do not.
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Updated: 02/19/2012, teddletonmr
 
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teddletonmr on 01/04/2012

Thanks Katie.

katiem2 on 01/04/2012

Great tips on thatching your lawn, I'm learning some amazing lawn care tips from you. Thanks for the detailed articles and lawn care tutorials. Katie

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