What Is Lawn Thatch and How Do I Manage It?

By Allyn Paul, filed under Lawn Tips.

Now that spring is here, you are no doubt getting out into the lawn and taking survey of how it has survived through the winter. While you are out, I want you to consider the lawn thatch layer.

What Is Lawn Thatch?

Thatch is the layer of dead grass, roots and other organic materials that reside in a pack just above the soil line surrounding the grass crowns. Every lawn has thatch, and every lawn needs thatch–but everything in moderation.

This packed layer is needed because it keeps soil moisture from evaporating, and also shades turf roots during hot summers. Too much, however, can cause problems with water actually reaching the soil and can cause a spongy effect that creates dead and bare spots over time.

How to Reduce Thatch in the Lawn

If your thatch layer is over 1/2 inch thick, it needs to be reduced. The best way to do this is by aerating the lawn. Lawn aeration is a process where a core pulling machine pokes holes across the lawn. These holes take out chunks of soil but also punch holes in the thatch, effectively reducing its overall density.

If you have a severe thatch issue, you can also rent a power raking machine, known as a de-thatcher. These machines work very well, but do leave quite of bit of raking cleanup for you! I usually only recommend you do this in the most extreme cases.

If you haven’t been outside yet this season, get out now and make aeration one of your first tasks for the season–for the good of your thatch layer and your lawn.


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2 Responses to “What Is Lawn Thatch and How Do I Manage It?”

  1. Aaron Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    Allyn what about the thatch rakes that replace the mower blade? There are 2 little spring loaded tines that hang down and rough up the soil

  2. Allyn Paul Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    I have never heard of that Aaron, but it seems like the circling motion that a lawn mower blade moves in would harm the turf more than anything if there were tines hanging down… I will have to research this some, thanks for teaching me something! Aeration really is the way to go though, any way you slice it.

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