Thatch- a tightly packed layer of living and dead plant material that develops between the grass and the soil- builds up gradually. While thatch may hinder proper growth by preventing air and vital minerals from reaching the roots, it is not that terrible. A thin layer of thatch is typical for most grasses and is quite beneficial to your lawn. It slows water loss, promotes helpful bacterial activity, protects your grass from foot traffic, maintains soil temperature, etc.
Hence, you should not always dethatch your grass when you have a thatch problem. In this post, we'll examine the pros and cons of dethatching lawn to assist you in making an educated selection.
Thatch is a layer of living and dead roots and stem and could have any other particle-like grass clipping that settles down in the root of grass. You can say that it’s the debris of grass and a mixture of other particles, and dethatching is the procedure for removing thatch. If this layer is big, then it needs to dethatch, and in the spring season, that could be bad for your lawn, and you can do it in early spring and the fall season; that could be good practice. Here are the pros and cons of dethatching lawn.
Some of the pros of dethatching lawn are that it helps reduce thatch build-up, improve soil drainage, reduce mowing time, aids in grass disease management, and can help control weeds.
One of the greatest benefits of dethatching your yard is that it will help you aerate the soil. Removing dead plant material will create holes for air, water, and sunlight to penetrate the soil, creating a healthier environment for your grass.
Aerating the lawn is also one way to control the excessive build-up of thatch. Raking too much can cause damage to your blades, but periodic raking over time will keep your lawn healthy.
Dethatch symptoms typically include thinning or discolouration in patches throughout the yard. If this happens to you, a simple dethatching is probably all it will take for your grass to return to normal. Normalcy is one of the most sought pros of dethatching lawns.
A healthy lawn is green with thick turf and no bare spots. If you're trying to sell your house or just want to improve the visual appeal of your property, dethatching helps with that too. A nice manicured lawn goes a long way when selling a house.
Maintaining healthy grass is the best way to avoid problems with pests or diseases. If you stop thatch from accumulating, your grass will stay healthier longer and be more capable of fighting off infections brought on by insects or other agents.
Some of the cons of Dethatching lawn include that it can be time consuming to do for larger lawns, may need to be done more than once per year if your lawn has an excessive amount of thatch buildup, and may not always improve soil drainage depending on the type of soil present.
Another important consideration is cost. Dethatching a large yard may run anywhere from $100 to $1000, depending on how much work needs done and if the job includes aeration as well. The initial investment may not be worth it for those who have small yards or infrequent problems with too much thatch, but if you have a bigger yard and to keep it in tip-top shape, it might be time to invest in that lawn dethatcher you've been eyeing.
Dethatching disrupts your yard's soil's ideal pH and nitrogen level, potentially damaging its overall health. To avoid this problem, apply a healthy amount of compost or other organic matter after raking your grass clippings off the surface.
Dethatching is hard work. It involves hours upon hours of raking across your yard in 90-degree weather under the sun while wearing a pair of shorts that are not necessarily appropriate for yard work.
Exposing soil allows beneficial bacteria to dry out and die and expose the earth to harmful bacteria. To avoid these negative effects, dethatch your lawn in the fall when conditions are more suitable for yard work.
In addition, if you opt for power raking over manual labor, be careful not to rake too vigorously or apply too much pressure. This is a good way to damage your grass' roots and even its blades.
1. Before going out and buying that beast of a machine, do some research on how often it's ideal to have your lawn dethatched and what type of machine you should get based on your yard size and accessibility to power outlets. You may find that you don't even need to invest in a machine; manual dethatching is much easier on your back and wallet.
2. If you do decide that owning your own dethatcher is the best option, then take time to prepare for your yard work. Gather any materials you'll need beforehand (tarp for debris, gloves, etc., set up the electricity, water supply, or other utilities accordingly. Be sure to mark any underground structures or utility lines before starting work.
3. Take off your shoes. Lawns are dirty places with loads of bacteria left by animal droppings and other contaminants. These can be washed away along with the good bacteria when raking over the soil's surface. This is another good reason to do your lawn dethatching in the fall after all of your yard's harmful bacteria has died off with the coming cold weather.
4. If you must power rake, especially if it's your first time or you've rented a higher-end machine, start on an inconspicuous part of your yard like the back edge near shrubs and trees where there is less wear and tear. You can then slowly work outwards as you become more comfortable with the process.
5. Finally, consider hiring someone to do it for you! It might cost a pretty penny but if you don't want to spend your summer morning raking up grass clippings over every inch of your yard, then check out services in your area. They're usually safer and more efficient than using a machine to dethatch your lawn.
It's best saved for fall when temperatures are cool, but there is still enough warmth for bacteria activity in the soil, and the grass blades aren't likely to be damaged by too much sun exposure. Don't power rake. This can damage plants beneath and strip away healthy topsoil while removing good bacteria from the ground and any bad things like animal faeces or other contaminants.
A thatch layer less than 1/2-inch thick is beneficial to lawn health. It serves as an organic mulch to aid in retaining soil moisture and protection against large temperature swings. Water can also accumulate in the thatch layer, suffocating grassroots due to lack of air.
The optimum time to dethatch your entire lawn is late summer to early fall when the grass is actively growing. Use a thatching rake, a sharp-tined rake that rips the thatch off the grass, in early spring and for small areas. Detach for southern grasses in late spring.
Because grass grows best in early fall (early September in zone 5), cool-season grasses should be done then. It's better not to mow in the middle or late of summer. Dethatching is the fall reduces weed issues.
Callahan advises that if you plan on reseeding, do so after dethatching. Consider topdressing once the lawn is seeded. If you've removed soil from the plugs, it may be used as a topdressing. However, plenty of thatch debris should be eliminated. The new regions created by dethatching are an excellent opportunity to amend your soil, adding organic matter.