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4 Things You Need to Know About Thatching

At Lawn A Mat, we’ve been making lawns beautiful in Bergen & Passaic Counties in New Jersey and Orange & Rockland Counties in New York since 1961. We’ve done thousands of lawns in these areas.

What is Thatch?

Thatch is a tightly bound layer of dead grass, including leaves, stems and roots that builds up on the soil surface at the base of the living grass of a lawn.

Your lawn needs up to 1/2” of thatch because it’s a beneficial part of your lawn’s ecosystem since it provides many necessary biological functions.

Excessive thatch (over ½ “ thick) creates a favorable environment for pests and disease. It is also unfavorable for grass roots since it makes it harder for nutrients to reach them.

What Causes Thatch Build Up?

Thatch problems are due to a combination of biological, cultural, and environmental factors. Cultural practices can have a big impact on thatch.

Heavy nitrogen fertilizer applications or over watering frequently contribute to thatch because they cause the lawn to grow excessively fast. Avoid over fertilizing and over watering. Use a slow release, granular fertilizer like the one used by Lawn-A-Mat uses as part of the Greenskeeper Program.

Despite popular belief, short clippings dropped on the lawn after mowing are not the cause of thatch buildup. Clippings are very high in water content and breakdown rapidly when returned to lawns after mowing, assuming lawns are mowed on a regular basis and not more than 1/3 of the grass blade is removed.

What is De-Thatching?

De-Thatching is the action of removing thatch. This is done with either a de-thatcher or vertical mower. Mechanical thatching is very destructive to the roots because if there is a thatch buildup, grass roots will be in the thatch layer and not in the soil, so plants will tear out easily. Over seeding is usually required afterwards.

When Is the Best Time to De-Thatch?

The best to de-thatch is in late August. This will provide optimum reseeding timing. De-thatching done in the spring as part of clean up should be avoided because the turf grass is dormant and will be damaged. If damage occurs from thatching, seeding may not be possible due to the impending pre-emergent application.

Warning: De-thatching should not be used as a method of Spring cleaning unless the process is being done to remove an overly thick thatch layer and, should never be done in shady areas. Damage to your lawn will result if de-thatching is done if it is not necessary.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us at (201) 891-4131 or (845) 986-8836

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