Professional Lawn and Landscape Care

De-thatching

There’s a word for the dead and decaying organic material that accumulates in your lawn.  It’s called thatch and it is perfectly normal.  A small amount is a good thing for your lawn.  It can retain moisture, lower high soil temperatures, discourage weed encroachment and cushion the crown of the plant. But, you can have too much of a good thing and tipping the balance on the scale will result in a host of other problems.  Too much organic layering will provide an micro-climate to host disease, shallow rooting and insect infestation.

If you have this situation then it may be time to de-thatch your lawn? The best time to de-thatch your lawn is just before your lawn’s most vigorous growth cycle. The best time to de-thatch a cool season lawn is late August to mid September in the northern areas.  During this time the grass is growing vigorously and should recover quickly. De-thatching in the fall is also recommended because at this time the weed seeds are not germinating so that your grass does not have to compete with weeds. If we are de-thatching in the fall, we do it at least 30 days before the end of the mowing season.

For cool season lawns you can also de-thatch in the spring before the grass starts to green up. Sometimes this is easier because the grass has not come up yet and it is easy to get at the thatch. De-thatching your lawn involves actually vertically cutting through the thatch layer with knife like blades and removing the debris. It is easiest to do this when the soil is moist, but we make sure it is not saturated or the equipment will tear and pull at the soil rather than slicing the thatch.

Usually, a thatch build up is a result of an underlying issue.  Over watering, high fertility applications, poor soil conditions and previous management programs are among the many reasons that thatch develops.  We can provide a recommendation for thatch management in your lawn situation.

Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources