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GroundKprs
11-30-2001, 08:30 PM
Sorry, I still can't get time to study this @#%!^ digital camera, but here's a try.

We all have looked down on a lawn and seen the blonde laid down blades of grass. Many refer to this as thatch, but this is not real thatch, but just dead or dormant blades. A "dethatching" of this type of lawn will often result in tremendous amounts of fluff, and many people think they have preformed a useful function by removing all this debris from the turf. But in fact this is mostly just dead grass blades that would soon decay to nothing. (The average bluegrass leaf lives 4 to 6 weeks, then it dies and is replaced by new leaves.)

If you go to a doctor with a runny nose, does he just look at your nose and prescribe a remedy? Of course not, because the runny nose is just a symptom; the doctor will look inside, perhaps even take blood tests to determine the problem. Likewise problems you see on a lawn surface are usually symptoms, and you must look in the proper manner for the actual problem. And where is the grass growing? In the soil. So you must look below ground to accurately assess plant vitality and many plant problems.

http://www.lawnsite.com/attachment.php?s=&postid=201301

There are a number of ways to look underground without destroying a lawn:
- The soil probe ($20 to $30) is a quick way to get a look, but the small diameter of a probe tends to destroy the real soil profile. But this is a most basic tool, for it allows a quick look in various places. Also in time, you will learn to detect thick thatch and compacted soils just by pushing the probe into the soil.
- A spade will allow you to cut a triangular or square section of turf, up to 4-5 inches deep, but removing this plug is sometimes a little destructive to the plug.
- A cup cutter is a very good tool for sampling and diagnosing. And it is not destructive of the turf. You can pull out up to a 6" deep plug, completely intact. It is also a neat sample to send into diagnostic labs for detailed analysis (and a good way for Jim to take a problem to a good friend to analyze, instead of imposing on him to come to the site). But I suppose a decent cup cutter these days is $200 to $400, so don't rush out to buy one. Start with the probe and spade; get a cup cutter later to save yourself time and effort.

Continued.......................

GroundKprs
11-30-2001, 08:33 PM
"Thatch is a tightly intermingled organic layer of dead and living shoots, stems, and roots that accumulate just above the soil surface." So you have to look under the surface to determine if you have a thatch problem.

http://www.lawnsite.com/attachment.php?s=&postid=201512

In the pic, the soil shows up as black, and a little shiny. Between the surface and the soil is the thatch, hopefully somewhat brownish to you in this pic. This lawn does have a problem, because thatch is 1" thick.

But the thatch is tightly packed dead stems, roots, and maybe even fine tree roots. If you think of a 1" thick woolen blanket, you have a good picture. The thatch will tear easier than the blanket, but you will not remove much of this with any type of scratching tool. You can run your JRCO "dethatcher" over this lawn 50 times, then pull a plug and you will still have 1" of thatch. Now if you have a completely dead, heavily thatched lawn area, that has been sitting that way for several months, and no new vegetation has started to grow, you might have some luck with a tine-type machine by pulling the thatch loose from the soil (like hooking the throw rug with your toe); but you will have a lot of pieces, and whole sections, that you will have to cut away somehow.

To remove thatch as pictured above, you are going to remove most of the grass growing also, so true thatch removal is a very destructive process. Ask the southern guys who have to do St Augustine regularly. If you determine that thatch must be removed, as the Purdue document suggests, a sod cutter for 1" or more, or a powerrake with fixed vertical blades is the proper way to go. The powerrake will have to be run over the renovation area at least twice, up to 4-5 times, with blades cutting through the thatch into the soil. As you cut in different directions, you are cutting the thatch into smaller pieces, and they begin to break loose from the soil.

Some grasses are predisposed to thatch production, but proper management can control it. I have corrected a 1-3/4" (yes one and three quarter inches) thatch problem by four years of twice annual aeration, each aeration being four passes. And others are controlled by aeration, but proper aeration is another story.

<a href="http://www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/pubs/ay8.htm">Purdue document, includes thatch (html)</a>
<a href="http://www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/pubs/ay-8.pdf">same Purdue document (pdf)</a>

If anyone has questions, post and be patient. I might not be back for a couple of days. Carol just set the sledge hammer next to the computer, and gently reminded me that the Christmas decorations have to be done (anyone else have even the bathroom decorated for Christmas?)

andyslawns
11-30-2001, 08:49 PM
are you gonna have this published or something??....... Good reading. thanks for the (detailed) info.:blob4:

awm
11-30-2001, 08:53 PM
couldnt have said better myself. in fact couldnt have said it half as well . good answer groundskeprs

KirbysLawn
11-30-2001, 09:04 PM
Originally posted by awm
couldnt have said better myself. in fact couldnt have said it half as well . good answer groundskeprs

Ain't that the truth. VEry good and informative post as usual! I guess I will have to take the dethatcher I got from Home Cheapo back tomorrow.:mad:

Turfdude
11-30-2001, 10:47 PM
Excellent Post!!!

My warden also has my W.E. booked w/ Christmas lights, breakfast w/ Kids & SANTA, etc. The woman is a fanatic w/ this holiday!! Every room (both baths included) get decorated. Probably 75 or so Dickens Carolers, and a plethora of other junk. The neighbor,s simply call me Clark (GRIZWOLD) for the next month or so.:rolleyes:

Guido
12-01-2001, 01:15 AM
Good reading for all!

GroundKprs
12-01-2001, 12:03 PM
When you have time, could a moderator please replace the image in that post with this image, and then delete this post please?


Jim I edited as you asked, I left this post since it has the hyperlink to the attached photo.

Ray

bastalker
03-25-2003, 08:07 PM
Grndskeeper.....awsome post.. I had to bring it up again since I just landed a new client who wants his yard dethached....

He wants dethatching done to grub areas...probably half his yard.
Was going to go nuts with a rake to these areas since its not the whole yard...Maybe half of the back yard.

He then wants a 1 ton lyme spread on his lawn..gettin moss he is.

What would be the quickest way to get these areas dethatched and what would you charge to do it?

Gotta get back to him in a couple of days...

GroundKprs
03-25-2003, 10:00 PM
Depends on the size of the area. Generally a sod cutter is the easiest, especially if lawn is mostly dead. Cutting thatch away with sod cutter results in smallest volume. Say you have 1000 ft² with thatch 1" thick; that is 3 cu yd of thatch. 3 cubic yards to pick up and haul away if using a sod cutter, and easy to pick up. If using a powerrake (with FIXED blades), you will break up thatch into little pieces, need to rake it up, and will fluff it up so you will get roughly twice the volume.

I just charge my hourly rate for the powerrake, and then hourly for the cleanup labor, and time and materials on the seed or sod repair.

You'll be there for days if using only a rake, and you'll really work hard pulling it loose. Need to remove all thatch down to soil in order to have successful repair.

Mike Bradbury
03-25-2003, 11:09 PM
Originally posted by KirbysLawn
Ain't that the truth. VEry good and informative post as usual! I guess I will have to take the dethatcher I got from Home Cheapo back tomorrow.:mad:

They are useful for beating up dead spots to expose the soil for renovation.

ecoguy
08-18-2009, 06:21 PM
Groundskprs, I'm glad I found this. Very good. Would you recommend a combination power-rake with aeration as part of a healthy fall program, assuming the lawn needs both.

1993lx172
08-18-2009, 08:31 PM
Dude this thread is over ten years old, Half the people who posted in this thread aren't even around any more. But to answer you question, yes dethatching and aeration is NECESSARY for a good fall program.

93Chevy
08-18-2009, 08:36 PM
Dude this thread is over ten years old

:confused: 2009-2001= 8:hammerhead:

Yes, this is a very informative post, I'm glad I stumbled on it.

ecoguy
08-18-2009, 08:45 PM
haha, really 10 years? How can you tell I just joined this week.

1993lx172
08-18-2009, 08:55 PM
:confused: 2009-2001= 8:hammerhead:

Yes, this is a very informative post, I'm glad I stumbled on it.

Sorry, had a brain fart there:hammerhead:, I was looking at they guys join date and not the posting date:hammerhead:. I believe that there's a saying "I reject your reality, and substitute my own":waving:

Again, my bad :hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead:

93Chevy
08-18-2009, 08:58 PM
Sorry, had a brain fart there:hammerhead:, I was looking at they guys join date and not the posting date:hammerhead:. I believe that there's a saying "I reject your reality, and substitute my own":waving:

Again, my bad :hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead:

:laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:

No need to apologize, I was just poking a little fun :waving::waving:

1993lx172
08-18-2009, 09:12 PM
Ha ha, we're good man. :waving:

To answer eco's question, yes dethatching and aerating should be a major part of your fall program. The most I've ever made in a week was during the aerating and dethatching season. My aerator payed for itself in three days, and that was seven years ago. I've had a few years where fall work made up for a bad mowing season (real dry and nothing was growing, even the Bermuda dried up). Around here there always seems to be one weekend that every one wants aerating and dethatching done and then the jobs seem to trickle down to nothing in the span of a week.

ecoguy
08-18-2009, 09:16 PM
Hey 1993... that's what I'm banking on. I'm finishing my biz plan and launching next month so I'm hoping a solid 2 months of fall programs will get me through my first Dec and Jan. We don't get a ton of snow here in the winter months so I've thought of using that time to pre-sell for the spring. What do you guys do?

MJB
08-18-2009, 09:42 PM
I used to thatch and aerate but for the past 12 yrs I only aerate. I found that by using fertilizer that over feeds the roots causes the thatch problem on established lawns. That and over watering. I feed the lawns out here with high nitrogen or ammonia sulfate, then once per yr put on a 161616 or something along those lines. If I get a thatch problem then I spray on a thatch dissolver. Works great Eats about 1/4 inch per month of thatch and makes the lawns very happy.

1993lx172
08-18-2009, 09:55 PM
I take the winter months off.

In high school I was in marching band and we went from the last week in July to the second week of November, so between band, work, and school I needed a break. Everything I earn I put into savings for later on in life. Other than business expenses I try not to spend a lot of money. Most of my clients have told me bluntly and I quote, "Until you decide to move on to bigger and better things, you have us as clients." I always try to get most of my roster put together before the next season so I don't have to worry about it the next spring.


I leave for college on Sunday so I'll be focusing on school during the winter months while I try to juggle my eight yards + whatever fall work jobs I line up until the end of the season.

Alan0354
08-19-2009, 03:17 AM
I just used my Mantis to dethatch my lawn today. I do it once a year and I pull a lot of dead grass out. But I don't think the Mantis is digging into the soil that deep. So those that come out is not really thatch??

Exact Rototilling
08-20-2009, 12:28 AM
*trucewhiteflag*"....snip..... If I get a thatch problem then I spray on a thatch dissolver. Works great Eats about 1/4 inch per month of thatch and makes the lawns very happy.



What exactly is the thatch dissolve secret formula?

I do more power raking than I really want to do every spring and I use the spring tine bar on my bluebird seeder/power rake. Spring of 2008 I tried talking people out of power raking but that was bad for business. Spring of 2009 I just did what the customer wanted. All of my aeration customers are already on board and see power raking as silly and unnecessary. It really an issue of customer education.

Over the winter I'm go to work up a "so you really want to power rake info brochure" perfect opportunity to upsell regular aeration's. :)

Exact Rototilling
08-20-2009, 12:32 AM
:hammerhead:deleted double post

MJB
08-20-2009, 12:41 AM
*trucewhiteflag*



What exactly is the thatch dissolve secret formula?

I do more power raking than I really want to do every spring and I use the spring tine bar on my bluebird seeder/power rake. Spring of 2008 I tried talking people out of power raking but that was bad for business. Spring of 2009 I just did what the customer wanted. All of my aeration customers are already on board and see power raking as silly and unnecessary. It really an issue of customer education.

Over the winter I'm go to work up a "so you really want to power rake info brochure" perfect opportunity to upsell regular aeration's. :)

It's called "Micro Thatch" Compost Digester Made by a company out of Cheney Wa. Not all that far from you. Tainio Technologies. I have a website where you can order it or contact the dealer directly.

http://ewrm.net/site/index.php?option=com_ezcatalog&task=viewcategory&id=5&Itemid=26&limit=10&limitstart=10

Exact Rototilling
08-20-2009, 12:09 PM
It's called "Micro Thatch" Compost Digester Made by a company out of Cheney Wa. Not all that far from you. Tainio Technologies. I have a website where you can order it or contact the dealer directly.

http://ewrm.net/site/index.php?option=com_ezcatalog&task=viewcategory&id=5&Itemid=26&limit=10&limitstart=10
MJB,

When you use this type of solution what type of sprayer do you use? The instruction say keep it agitated due to clogging etc. I'm not a licensed applicator so would I be able to spray this? How are the regs written in WA?

Thanks :waving:

MJB
08-20-2009, 08:11 PM
MJB,

When you use this type of solution what type of sprayer do you use? The instruction say keep it agitated due to clogging etc. I'm not a licensed applicator so would I be able to spray this? How are the regs written in WA?

Thanks :waving:

I have a 25 gal spray tank, I take the screens out and place it on my mower and spray. As far as licensing I'm not sure. If you don't want to do it, your customer can buy it and put it on himself. I was licensed last time I applied it. But have since dropped my applicators license. I know enough to apply it safely and don't really care, on the lawns I do there all out of the city limits too. I don't do it enough to worry about the license. Especially when I see unlicensed applicators everywhere apllying chemicals in the open. Nobody seems to enforce it unless you screw up.

cphillips0053
08-22-2009, 06:52 AM
Carol just set the sledge hammer next to the computer, and gently reminded me that the Christmas decorations have to be done (anyone else have even the bathroom decorated for Christmas?)

LOL :laugh:

I've got 3 rooms to paint for Christmas!

MOW ED
08-23-2009, 10:42 AM
Its too bad Jim isn't around here any more. His posts were right on the money and he is a class act and an extremely knowledgeable lawn care professional.

Lets get things straight, power raking and spring tine raking are NOT dethatchers. If you have true thatch a vertical cutting blade is needed to destroy thatch. The best analogy I learned was to comeare thatch to a thick wool blanket weaved into a lawn. You can rake the top of it all you want and do little to it. But when you slice into it and rip it up you can effect thatch. Jim was a very good resource here and you should research his other posts.

MJB
08-23-2009, 11:27 AM
Its too bad Jim isn't around here any more. His posts were right on the money and he is a class act and an extremely knowledgeable lawn care professional.

Lets get things straight, power raking and spring tine raking are NOT dethatchers. If you have true thatch a vertical cutting blade is needed to destroy thatch. The best analogy I learned was to comeare thatch to a thick wool blanket weaved into a lawn. You can rake the top of it all you want and do little to it. But when you slice into it and rip it up you can effect thatch. Jim was a very good resource here and you should research his other posts.

The vertical cutting blades definately do more damge to the thatch. I've seen lawns out here with 3 to 4 " of thatch you can't even cut through it easily. We used to use a thatcher on it every yr and could never get enough of it out.. Now I just aerate it and poking the holes helped more than thatching and cost less. This is on an 1.5 acre yard. I'll never thatch again.

MOW ED
08-23-2009, 01:26 PM
I absolutely agree that it is a major PITA to verticut. You are very brave for trying to cut that size lawn. I also agree that with proper fertilization, moisture and aeration you can control thatch. It is not a fast process but the aeration has been effective for me also. I don't find many "true" heavy thatch yards and when I tell the customer the news it is usually not a favorable reply. I do suggest aeration but I also don't offer any guarantees as I have had some customers self defeat the process by either overwatering or overfertilizing as well as do other thing to encourage thatch growth. If I can educate a customer then more than half the battle is won but most times they are not really interested in getting very detailed so I do what I can within a budget and explain to whatever degree they will listen.

MJB
08-23-2009, 02:19 PM
I absolutely agree that it is a major PITA to verticut. You are very brave for trying to cut that size lawn. I also agree that with proper fertilization, moisture and aeration you can control thatch. It is not a fast process but the aeration has been effective for me also. I don't find many "true" heavy thatch yards and when I tell the customer the news it is usually not a favorable reply. I do suggest aeration but I also don't offer any guarantees as I have had some customers self defeat the process by either overwatering or overfertilizing as well as do other thing to encourage thatch growth. If I can educate a customer then more than half the battle is won but most times they are not really interested in getting very detailed so I do what I can within a budget and explain to whatever degree they will listen.

We have changed fertilization , and this helps some but a big problem with Home Owner Associations is trying to please everyone. Plus being in a lot of sand requires a constant watering program, and excessive nitrogen or A Sulfate to keep it looking green, but which really encourages thatch. Like you say aeration helps a bunch. Also for those lawns that are just to hard to please I have found that increasing soil microbes truly helps break down the fertilizer, plus digesting the thatch and turning it into food for the plant has helped us so much, by controling diseases so prevalent to KBG etc. I'm fortunate to have a friend in the soil microbe business that he sells to farmers for their crops. He gave me products to try on lawns and now I am a believer.

MOW ED
08-23-2009, 02:32 PM
As far as the microbes go are you talking mychorrizae? I have heard a little about this but have zero experience. I find it interesting and I have always wondered if this was just a gimmic or was for real. Once again I am not well versed in this at all. Do you have in info as far as websites or literature so that I may learn more?

ecoguy
08-23-2009, 03:53 PM
I am planning on brewing my own compost tea and offering it as a monthly service to my customers. The great thing about the tea is its nearly impossible to add too much.

MJB
08-23-2009, 04:19 PM
As far as the microbes go are you talking mychorrizae? I have heard a little about this but have zero experience. I find it interesting and I have always wondered if this was just a gimmic or was for real. Once again I am not well versed in this at all. Do you have in info as far as websites or literature so that I may learn more?

I get my products from Earth Water Resource Management. I've known Shane since he started this business several yrs back. I am not the one to explain it but I have been using some of his product line. He has 3 companies he is the distributor for , I buy Tainio Products under Turf Management. I use Micro Thatch, Pepzyme M, Spectrum, and Bio Genesis. But not all at the same time I'm just experimenting to find which work best for my area. So far they all do. There is a lot of info that will help those wanting to know more about Biological solutions, etc on his website. This is something that becoming more and more needed as far as I'm concerned, and surprisingly it's very affordable.

MJB
08-23-2009, 04:21 PM
Forgot to put the link to the website: http://ewrm.net/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16&Itemid=33

MJB
08-23-2009, 04:25 PM
I am planning on brewing my own compost tea and offering it as a monthly service to my customers. The great thing about the tea is its nearly impossible to add too much.

I like products that won't harm you or the enviroment even if you use to much. The compost tea basically feeds soil microbes doesn't it making the soil more fertile?? The products I use also do not damage the turf only improve the soil immune system. Let me know how the tea works for you.