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  #1  
Old 04-21-2004, 11:11 AM
grassrootsinab grassrootsinab is offline
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Lawn Mulching Questing

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.
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  #2  
Old 04-21-2004, 07:53 PM
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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
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  #3  
Old 04-22-2004, 08:52 AM
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Quote:
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.
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Old 04-22-2004, 10:40 AM
yardmonkey yardmonkey is offline
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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....
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Old 04-22-2004, 11:31 AM
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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.
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  #6  
Old 04-22-2004, 11:55 AM
grassrootsinab grassrootsinab is offline
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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!!
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Old 04-22-2004, 12:31 PM
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Quote:
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.
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  #8  
Old 04-23-2004, 12:02 AM
yardmonkey yardmonkey is offline
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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.
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Old 04-23-2004, 02:34 AM
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Quote:
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.
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"TG doesn't give a rats ass about being "Responsible" as long as sales/production quotas are met. That's it in a nutshell. A recipe for disaster IMO." Ted Putnam 2/28/14

You can lead a Donkey to water but you can't make the Jackass Drink

"As Americans you have the right to be stupid." John Kerry

"Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid.” John Wayne.
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  #10  
Old 04-23-2004, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
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
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