Dethatching your lawn can be a tedious task, but it’s necessary to maintain a healthy, vibrant lawn. But first, what is dethatching? Well, it’s the process of removing thatch, which is the plant material that builds up between the healthy, green top growth and the root. While some thatch is healthy, and needed, too much of it can keep moisture and oxygen from getting into the soil. Here are a few tips to make it both easier and more successful.
Don’t let thatch build up
The easiest way to avoid thatch build up is to rake after you mow your lawn. Thatch starts when lawn clippings aren’t cleaned up or are too large to decompose quickly. If you leave your lawn clippings, make sure you mow more frequently so the clippings are finer and decompose more easily. This is especially important during the late summer season.
Dethatch if the thatch is over 1 inch thick
To check the thatch, remove a blade of grass from your lawn. If the the layer of thatch between the root and the top growth is over 1inch, you probably need to perform this task. Some lawns only need this done once every two or three years, so don’t worry if it’s time.
Aerate your lawn
This may be your problem, so before you dethatch, see if your lawn needs to be aerated. This just removes cores of soil from the ground, which redistributes nutrients to the soil.
Use a thatching rake
One of these rakes will probably only cost you $30-40 at from any store that sells lawn tools. This rake is usually made of iron, as opposed to regular rakes, which aren’t strong enough to penetrate the soil.
Rake in only one direction
Since you are digging into the soil, you want to make sure you go in only one direction. If you go in multiple directions, you risk damaging the soil and ripping up plants.
Wait until fall to dethatch
You make think it’s a good idea to get this chore out of the way in spring or wait until late summer, but you want to avoid this if at all possible. Make sure you wait until the growing season is over. If you dethatch during a growing season, you run the risk of ripping up soil and making it easy for weeds to get into your lawn and take over.
Check for compacted soil
This can contribute to your thatch problem. If your lawn is browning or if water isn’t absorbing quickly, it’s likely you have compacted soil. To fix this, aerate your lawn in the area that is browning. This will also reduce thatch.
If thatch is too thick, fix in stages
If the thatch is very thick, you may want to slowly remove it in stages instead of all at once. This will give the roots time to grow deeper, which lessens the chance you will rip up your grass when you dethatch.
Once you have successfully dethatched your lawn, make sure to remove it from your lawn. This is a necessary step to keep your lawn healthy, and you can add the thatch to a compost pile if you desire.
After dethatching, fertilize and water your lawn
After you remove the thatch, you want to make sure you fertilize the lawn and give it the nutrients and water it has been missing.