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grassrootsinab
04-21-2004, 12:11 PM
I know the benefits of mulching and have been doing it for the last 4 years with my Deere JS63 mulching mowers. This spring quite a number of my yards seem to have flattened, matted areas. I power raked some of the yards (those that wanted it) and left some others. It seems like there was a buildup of thatch. It's standard cool season blue grass. During the summer you the mowers are giving a really clean cut...you can't see any of the clippings (so I'm assuming they are mulched fine enough). This is the first time I've noticed the matting. Any ideas?

The only other thing is that the same matting occurred on a yard that we always bag (by customer request). We had a long winter here with quite a bit of snow and ice, no mid-season melt like we usually get. Also last summer was brutally dry and my thrifty customers can't be bothered to water. I'm wondering if the climatic conditions have more to do with it. I'd appreciate any ideas and I'll try to get some pics. One of the yards is just brutal and looks absolutely awful. I need to get it back into shape.

bioman
04-21-2004, 08:53 PM
Leaving the grass clippings, or mulching does not cause thatch build up. It is caused by over fertilization. If your customers have a chemical company spraying their yard every month this will be a constant problem.

Hope this helps.

Ron

Ric
04-22-2004, 09:52 AM
Originally posted by bioman
Leaving the grass clippings, or mulching does not cause thatch build up. It is caused by over fertilization. If your customers have a chemical company spraying their yard every month this will be a constant problem.

Hope this helps.

Ron

Ron

For someone who claims to be an expert and sells Organic material, You not under stand Biology.

Over watering is the main cause of thatch build up. How excessive nitrogen in conjunction with over watering will Exacerbate thatch. However extra nitrogen will increase the decomposition of organic material. In fact decomposition of thatch will rob the turf of Nitrogen. Studies done at the U of Mich have proven excessive Nitrogen will decrease thatch in the absents of excessive irrigation.

Now it is not my job to give you a college education. However any member that wants to test this statement on Nitrogen and Decomposition, Needs only to do a simple experiment. Take two piles of the same organic material. One pile you apply nitrogen too and the other you do not. Watch how much faster the pile of nitrogen enriched compost degrades.

BTW There is a gentleman who lives just down the road from my nursery. He raises Rattlesnakes to milk for venom. He is a true Snake oil salesman.

yardmonkey
04-22-2004, 11:40 AM
Some comments:

(I'm not familiar with bluegrass, we have bermuda and tall turf fescue in Oklahoma. Of course each type of grass has its peculiarities).

True thatch is not the same thing as a buildup of grass clippings.

The local hort extension agent once told me that thatch (and maybe also buildup of organic matter) is caused by over-watering and/or over-fertilizing.

One thing that may contribute to a buildup of clippings is a lack of microbes to decompose the organic matter. Sometimes it is suggested to add molasses or something with a sugar content to feed and stimulate the microbes. They may be weakened by chemical applications. Probably no need to add microbes, but if you apply some molasses, it could be good to apply a bit of compost as well, which will add microbes. I have not messed with compost tea, but this is an option also. (Molasses is available in big bags of dry flakes pretty cheap at feed stores). (Various bagged compost producst are available if fresh compost is not).

Though extra nitrogen may help with decomposition, it may also contribute to making the grass grow so fast that there are more clippings than the microbes can keep up with. Too much water may do the same thing. Not enough water may also slow down the decomposition. I'm not sure, but I would guess that this process also slows down a bit in the cold winter.

If the grass seems to be growing really fast, it can be an option to bag it now and then. I once mowed a lawn that was forced to grow really fast and I would sometimes bag the clippings and use them for mulch on the beds (which were bare dirt and in need of mulch). Dried grass clippings and shredded leaves are the best mulches for beds. I sometimes bring home grass clippings and leaves to make my own compost.

Just some ideas....

bioman
04-22-2004, 12:31 PM
Very good reply yardmonkey. You are correct on molasses feeding the micros and breaking down the thatch. Also a good compost or compost tea. I would use the compost tea if fresh compost was not available.

Over fertilization is a big problem with chemical companies, and is the main reason for thatch build up.

grassrootsinab
04-22-2004, 12:55 PM
Thanks for all the pointers guys. I never thought about the overfertilizing. Most of the problem yards do have another company applying liquid fert (I only do the cutting and hedge trimming etc.). In my original post I was confounded because some of my yards look great with the same mulching treatment. Now that I think about it, each of the problem yards do get Green Drop to come in and fertilize (liq'd). At least now I have an answer for my clients. Thanks again!!

Ric
04-22-2004, 01:31 PM
Originally posted by yardmonkey


True thatch is not the same thing as a buildup of grass clippings.

The local hort extension agent once told me that thatch (and maybe also buildup of organic matter) is caused by over-watering and/or over-fertilizing.




Yardmonkey

Your Local Horticulture Extension Agent has to have a degree on the subject or he would not have the job. Unfortunately most Others responding here do not have the education or common sense to realize the science of Agronomy. They wish only to see what they choose to and that is not the truth. Yes as previously stated OVER WATERING is the main cause of Thatch build up. Over fertilization can contributed. I will not rewrite the above post so re-read it.

yardmonkey
04-23-2004, 01:02 AM
Yes, over-watering can be a big problem. It seems like lots of people with sprinkler systems think that more is better and many people tend to water every day.

Most books say that lawns should get one inch of water per week and that it should be all at once. I have a hard time convincing people of this. The lawn needs to dry out between watering - and the watering needs to be deep. A little bit every day teaches the grass that there is no need to grow deep roots. Then when the sprinkler system breaks or they go on vacation, the lawn dies out or stresses from drought since it has no deep roots. And then people look at this and say - See it needs more water!

Also too much water causes more weeds. The grass can take the drying out much better than many weeds can. Nutgrass is a common indicator of over-watering. And crabgrass likes it too.

Proper watering emulates nature - most places have occassional rainfall, rather than daily sprinkles. And some of the healthiest lawns I mow are never watered except by the rain.

Ric
04-23-2004, 03:34 AM
Originally posted by yardmonkey
Yes, over-watering can be a big problem. It seems like lots of people with sprinkler systems think that more is better and many people tend to water every day.

Most books say that lawns should get one inch of water per week and that it should be all at once. I have a hard time convincing people of this. The lawn needs to dry out between watering - and the watering needs to be deep. A little bit every day teaches the grass that there is no need to grow deep roots. Then when the sprinkler system breaks or they go on vacation, the lawn dies out or stresses from drought since it has no deep roots. And then people look at this and say - See it needs more water!

Also too much water causes more weeds. The grass can take the drying out much better than many weeds can. Nutgrass is a common indicator of over-watering. And crabgrass likes it too.

Proper watering emulates nature - most places have occassional rainfall, rather than daily sprinkles. And some of the healthiest lawns I mow are never watered except by the rain.



Bioman

I hope Lawsite is helping you get the education that you obviously lack. If I might suggest. You are from the city that is home to one of the finest A & M University in the south. Take advantage of that fine college. Turf Grass 101 is where I suggest you start.

bioman
04-23-2004, 03:36 PM
Originally posted by Ric
Bioman

I hope Lawsite is helping you get the education that you obviously lack. If I might suggest. You are from the city that is home to one of the finest A & M University in the south. Take advantage of that fine college. Turf Grass 101 is where I suggest you start.

Ric

I thought this was a discussion board. Not one that insults people and slams them at every chance they get. I would like for you to take two yards, and on one do nothing but over water it and the other spray it every month with nitrogen. within 6 months one will be dead from fungus, and the other yard will have a thatch problem. Oh, by the way the city I live in is the home to the University Of Florida not A & M. So I guess you have blown your cover on your level of intelligence.

Ron

heritage
04-23-2004, 08:56 PM
grassrootsinab,

Check soil P.H. If soil P.H. is Less than 6.0 soil microbes will not be as active and slower breakdown of turf clippings will be the result. Bump P.H. up to 6.2 - 6.5....... This only goes for cool season turf as i am no expert on warm season turf. If the person making the fert apps is using an acidifying fert like urea, P.H. will slowly drop. I counter the effects of these acidifying fertilizers with an annual application of lime based on soil test of course. Also a great nitrogen fertilizer that will improve microbial activity and help break down thatch is Nitroform 38-0-0. Listen to ric as he is a very smart cookie when it comes to soil science and practical knowledge of turfgrass.

Pete D.

Ric
04-23-2004, 11:08 PM
Originally posted by bioman
Ric

I thought this was a discussion board. Not one that insults people and slams them at every chance they get. I would like for you to take two yards, and on one do nothing but over water it and the other spray it every month with nitrogen. within 6 months one will be dead from fungus, and the other yard will have a thatch problem. Oh, by the way the city I live in is the home to the University Of Florida not A & M. So I guess you have blown your cover on your level of intelligence.

Ron

Ron

University of Florida is a A & M college. Now for the rider of the short bus I will explain. "A" stands of Agriculture and "M" stands for Mechanical. Our country is in fact to this day an agriculture and mechanical economy as it was over two centuries ago. Our biggest export in the balance of trade is it fact Grain in todays world economy. Unfortunately we are no long a industrial power as we once were.

Historically, State colleges offered Education to meet the needs of the economy. Therefore every state has their A & M college or University. U of F is one of the better A & M colleges in the south. Universities are made up of more than one college. each college specializes in a discipline(Study of one subject).

Now there are in fact three types of members in most green industry forms. 1. Those who have an education in the Green Industry and are trying to gain or share information with others. 2. Those who are trying to gain education. 3. Those who think they know it all and therefore put out misinformation. Since I have a degree from the University of Florida in Horticulture. I feel I am in the first group.

I post to help licensed certified pesticide applicators and annoy the snot out of morons, idiots, fools and bozos Often, I do both at once.
If you feel annoyed, please check your status.

GroundKprs
04-24-2004, 12:39 AM
grassrootsinab: your original question on the matted grass - this was snow mold, a fungus that grows under a snow cover. The dead matted grass blades are finished, but new blades will grow. Best recourse is to flail rake, as you did on some. This will break up the mat and allow air into the soil and let the new blades grow up. If you just leave the matted grass, it has a smothering effect. I flail raked more here this year than all of the last 10 years together.

And if you are discussing real thatch, are you looking under the turf surface? Real thatch discussed HERE (http://members.aol.com/groundkprs/FindThatch.html).

dishboy
04-24-2004, 04:37 AM
[QUOTE] originally by RIC
"I post to help licensed certified pesticide applicators and annoy the snot out of morons, idiots, fools and bozos Often, I do both at once.
If you feel annoyed, please check your status."


I think your response is a little harsh, so maybe you ought to check your own status. I choose B.

timturf
04-24-2004, 11:37 AM
different grass have different thatching tendencies!
Over fert, especially with quick release fert promotes thatch as well as over watering!
If everything in balance, clipping should quickly decompose

what is the definition of thatch?

yardmonkey
04-24-2004, 12:29 PM
From Turfgrass Science - Hanson and Juska, 1969 - page 501:

"Thatch or mat, a common term in turfgrass management, denotes an undecomposed layer of stems, stolons, roots, and rhizomes. Thatch formation is not generally increased to any appreciable extent by clippings left on regularly mowed turf. Clippings decompose readily if water and fertility conditions are favorable. With demands for the production of excellent turf, thatch has become a serious problem in the maintenance program. Several factors that contribute to thatch formation are newer turf varieties with more vigor and density than older varieties and increased production of stems, roots, and rhizomes. Turf areas irrigated during the summer months have prolonged the season of active grass growth. Cool temperatures may contribute to thatch formation because of reduced bacterial activity. Low pH in the thatch layer, high levels of nitrogen and use of fungicides produce environmental conditions conducive to thatch formation. The type of species utilized for turf will also determine the quality of thatch accumulation. Grasses with a creeping habit of growth like zoysia, bermuda, and creeping bentgrasses form more thatch than upright growing grasses."

GroundKprs
04-24-2004, 07:43 PM
Wow, the 60s were the stone age of ornamental turf management. Try reading something a little up to date.

GreenMonster
04-24-2004, 08:50 PM
Originally posted by Ric
Ron

University of Florida is a A & M college. Now for the rider of the short bus I will explain. "A" stands of Agriculture and "M" stands for Mechanical. Our country is in fact to this day an agriculture and mechanical economy as it was over two centuries ago. Our biggest export in the balance of trade is it fact Grain in todays world economy. Unfortunately we are no long a industrial power as we once were.

Historically, State colleges offered Education to meet the needs of the economy. Therefore every state has their A & M college or University. U of F is one of the better A & M colleges in the south. Universities are made up of more than one college. each college specializes in a discipline(Study of one subject).

Now there are in fact three types of members in most green industry forms. 1. Those who have an education in the Green Industry and are trying to gain or share information with others. 2. Those who are trying to gain education. 3. Those who think they know it all and therefore put out misinformation. Since I have a degree from the University of Florida in Horticulture. I feel I am in the first group.

I post to help licensed certified pesticide applicators and annoy the snot out of morons, idiots, fools and bozos Often, I do both at once.
If you feel annoyed, please check your status.


I've double checked my status. Yep, no doubt I fall into category 2. Yet, I still find Ric annoying:D

ProMo
04-25-2004, 11:06 AM
Thatch is basically a residue problem that occurs in most turfgrasses. Thatch buildup has been attributed to numerous factors. Excessive plant growth (when vegetative production exceeds decay) results in the accumulation of thatch. Grasses depend upon constant regeneration for survival, and new growth of creeping grasses covers the old, causing residue accumulation.
St. Augustinegrass, hybrid bermudagrass, seashore paspalum, and zoysiagrass often accumulate excessive thatch. Likewise, improper management practices such as overfertilizing, overwatering, and infrequent mowing often increase thatch buildup. In addition, failure to keep the soil environment favorable for bacterial and fungal growth--by pH control, adequate irrigation, and aeration--decreases the rate of decomposition of thatch residues, because these organisms are responsible for decay of organic matter. Failure to remove clippings after mowing has been cited as a cause of thatch buildup, but research findings do not support this concept. If properly mowed, leaf clippings decompose readily and do not contribute to thatch.Effective control of thatch requires a combination of several management practices. These include reducing plant growth and increasing microbial decomposition, and periodically removing thatch by scalping and/or vertical mowing. Excessive fertilizer and irrigation are two of the primary causes in thatch buildup over time. Fertilizer should be applied as necessary to maintain reasonable growth and density. This will minimize weed invasion. Excessive succulent growth caused by overfertilization increases thatch, increases susceptibility to pests, and reduces the turf's overall tolerance to environmental stresses. Mowing practices can help control thatch buildup. Lawns should always be mowed at the recommended height and frequency. Thatch seldom increases if no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade is removed at each mowing.
Liming of acid soils may help increase decomposition of thatch residues and thus ****** buildup. A soil pH of 7.0 is ideal for maximum microbial activity and decomposition.Topdressing with sand provides the best biological control of thatch. Proper timing and rates are necessary to provide the best thatch control with the least chance of disease occurrence.

dishboy
04-26-2004, 02:32 AM
Promo I have zero studies to back my opinion but my experiance agrees with everything you stated. Nice informative post.

grassrootsinab
04-26-2004, 12:09 PM
Thanks again for all the help, I wondered about snow mould but hadn't had any of it in the last 3 or 4 years. Most of the yards are starting to come back now (its been about 10 days since power-raking) and we haven't had any real heat yet. Forecast is for 24 degrees C today and +15-20 for the rest of the week. That should really kickstart the comeback. Thanks again Ric, Hertitage and Grndkeeper!

dishboy
05-01-2004, 03:28 PM
Grounds Maintenence magizine- Jerry Sartain -University of Florida "In one reported study in the midwest , return of Kentucky bluegrass clippings did enhance thatch acculation. But in general , in the warmer South and Southeast , return of clippings has not shown to increase the quality of thatch accumilation in turfgrass." April 2004