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What is thatch in a lawn?

Thatch is the layer of decomposing grass, roots and small branches between the living grass and the soil. Thatch occurs naturally in the turf and adds to the health and vigor of your lawn in the correct amount. Thatch holds moisture in the soil and also keeps the soil temperature lower in the summer and warmer in the spring and fall. It also adds a cushiony feel to the lawn and improves the tolerance of foot and lawn mower traffic.


When is thatch bad?

Over time the thatch layer in the lawn can build up. When the thatch layer exceeds 1/2 - 3/4 of an inch it starts to become an issue. When the thatch becomes too thick it forms an impervious layer above the soil. It does not allow water, fertilizer and insect control to enter the soil. It also can cause a moisture build up near the bottom of the grass resulting in molds and fungus. A large layer of thatch can also become home to turf eating insects and block sunlight from reaching the bottom blades of the grass.



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What causes thatch?

Thatch is naturally occurring but fertilizing too much, over watering and mowing too high can cause an unhealthy thatch build up. Also highly compacted soils and lawns that are not aerated regularly can cause an abundance of thatch. Not collecting your grass clippings do not cause an unhealthy thatch build up. By mulching the clippings and leaving them on the lawn to decompose promotes a healthy thatch layer. The fresh clippings help decompose the thatch layer in the lawn.


What is dethatching?

Dethatching is manually removing the thatch layer from the lawn. This can be completed two ways. The first is by manually raking the turf. By doing so the thatch will be pulled out by the tines of the rake. The second is by machinery. It essentially is the same by raking by hand but is less laborious and much faster. After the lawn has been dethatched the thatch must be collected and removed off of the lawn.


How to determine if your lawn needs to be dethatched?

The best way to tell if you need to dethatched is by walking on your lawn and feeling if your lawn is extremely soft. Also you can measure the thatch layer by taking a spade and digging a section of turf and inspecting the thatch layer. Another way is by visual inspecting the turf. Look at the grass and stick your finger in the turf and see how much thatch is there.


Contact Natural Beauty Lawn & Landscaping today for your free dethatching estimate!