Dethatch every year?

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by edrocks3, Apr 14, 2014.

  1. edrocks3

    edrocks3 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 22

    So some of my northern MA neighbors are on the every year dethach kick... but I read that some thatch is actually healthy for the lawn.

    I dethatched last year Spring 2013. Aerated/seeded in the Fall 2013 before winter.

    It doesn't appear I really have any thick thatch buildup right now. There are the few browny areas that are trying to green up for spring.

    And it stresses the lawn with each dethatch.

    Do I just need to be patient here?
     
  2. AMW Landscaping

    AMW Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 631

    It is great for the lawn in a small quantity. If it gets to a point where it is all clumped up and your lawn has no color that you really need to remove it. I do it every year because I also helps the grass stand up and get un matted. In general if you bag your lawn when ever you cut it then you will not have much thatch build up. But if you mulch the grass then you can get a lot of build up.
     
  3. edrocks3

    edrocks3 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 22

    I do mulch now all season... only bag in the beginning to stop weed spreading.

    I already threw down my crabgrass preventer though. Did I totally mess up? Isn't it good to dethatch and then seed/fertilize right away?
     
  4. AMW Landscaping

    AMW Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 631

    You want to de thatch before the grass starts to thicken up and get long. After that it is good to get seed and fert down pretty soon.
     
  5. edrocks3

    edrocks3 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 22

    The label on the crabgrass preventer w/green up fertilizer I just used says no seeding for 4 months after applying. So its in my soil now.

    Think I'm screwed in the dethatch for this year :cry:
     
  6. CTD_Crazed

    CTD_Crazed LawnSite Member
    Posts: 59

    i know last year i did a pretty heavy dethatch because i had just bought the house and wasnt sure whats the previous home owner did with his lawn. this year i set the dethatcher as high as itd go on the bracket as i knew i didnt need a heavy dethatching at all. basically my whole goal was to more or less "comb" the grass and use the thacher as a rake to help pick up/loosen sticks/leaves/debris that had gotten matted onto the lawn over the winter. Did that whole process today and actually went pretty well, started around 4pm, worked till 6, breaked for dinner till 8, and went back out from 8 till just after 10pm. lawn looks 100% better and next weekend i plan to fert the lawn and go from there.
     
  7. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,359

    Power raking and/or dethathicng is over rated. A low mowing in the early dry portion of Spring will wake up the turf.

    In my own lawn test area year after year power raking actually slows the green up when compared to a low mowing.

    There is a need to scratch the dormant grass out in the clients mind. They just can't help it. I try to talk folks out of it but they insist.

    Seriously the lawns I control fertilizer input in late autumn and early Fall don't ever need habitual power raking dethatching for some reason. The single best thing one can do for your lawn is a heavy feeding in early fall when turf is still green.

    Also not a fan of a low Fall scalp mowing. It injures the turf. Yes I test this as well.

    Cool season grass low mow in early Spring.
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  8. edrocks3

    edrocks3 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 22

    Thank you SOOO much for getn back to me. And I do see it is just dormant grass.. the actual thatch thickness when I poke and move the dormant grass is nothing. Since I did it last year the thatch is almost 0.

    I'm 100% onboard with your idea of doing a low mow. I have a good bagging system too. Maybe with the low mow... and the crabgrass preventer plus greenup/fertlizer it will come alive!
     
  9. CTD_Crazed

    CTD_Crazed LawnSite Member
    Posts: 59

    When you say a "low mow" how low of a cut are we talking. I mowed mine at 2.5" this wknd and will go to 2.75" or 3" throughout the summer.
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  10. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,359

    Getting below 1.5" can be too low. Since my turf here is mowed high [last mow is 3.5"] a low mow down to 2.0" or 2.25" is plenty low. If your turf already has a decent greenup as in now....avoid the low scalp 1st mow. I have one older client who keeps scalping his back lawn down to the dirt level week after week. :hammerhead:
    This is not helping.
    The object is to get the loose dry and dormant debris up and out of the lawn....then let the lawn grow and do it's job.

    The early Spring low mow [debris removal mow] actually works best on Northern grasses in mid to late March [when dry] maybe Early to mid April for those still battling snow on the ground. The key is to not get crazy short with the last fall mowing. It helps to have something to work with in the early Spring length wise. I took on some new clients this year who mowed crazy Fall short or their contractor mowed short. Had to compromise and do a Spring tine power rake pass plus a low mow.

    This is the only time I bag for clients.

    Yes some KBG grasses are thatch prone even when optimal cultural practices are observed. The lawn here at my residence has a very aggressive rhizome development. This is best addressed with core aeration with a reciprocating aerator that pulls more plugs in a single pass. I can safely say the lawn here at my place need to be aerated 4-6 times per year.

    The mechanical flail blade dethatch that is aggressive enough to tear into the real thatch layer generates a huge amount of haul off [wasted organic matter] and a huge amount of labor.

    Avoid using synthetic fast release ferts unless it is in the Fall.

    Use slow release and better yet organic based products that help breakdown the organic matter [this gets converted to nitrogen] and it helps build the soil and microbiology.
    :waving:
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014

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