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Grass clippings

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Smallaxe, Jul 14, 2007.

  1. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    I hope this is the proper place to raise this question. I have a client that basically is raising grass hydroponically in 4 inches of clay loam chemical soup.
    He does indeed have a thatch problem and will be renting an aerator this fall, but will never allow grass clippings to be left behind. I understand that 'thatch' is a loaded term and the university extension offices across the nation say different things.
    One says thatch is a dark brown 'felt like' layer of dead roots and stems, and grass clippings will help digest that layer, as they themselves, quickly break down.
    Another says that 'thatch' is the spongy layer of dead plants and grass clippings and that you need to be able to see soil within a half an inch of this 'thatch'.
    Maintenance routines will be vary greatly, even oppose one another depending of which philosophy one believes in.
    What has your years of observation and experience shown you in this area?
  2. mrkosar

    mrkosar LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 664

    grass clippings are (i think i read this) 95% water. they do not contribute to thatch enough to worry about it. thatch is just dead roots, stems, etc...parts of the grass that do not decay quick enough. this usually happens when the lawn is overfertilized and/or there is not enough soil life to break down the clippings fast enough. aerate or dethatch every fall and you will be alright.

    leave grass clippings on the lawn unless you are getting clumps....if so, then mow more frequently or don't cut as much of the blade off.
  3. lawnsbytim

    lawnsbytim LawnSite Member
    Posts: 47

    If you want to get rid of the thatch, consider Microthatch from Tainio. Its a mixture of cellulose digesting bacillus and fungi. They claim 1/4" reduction per month. I am using this year and am seeing results. You can order from CSI in Grand Rapids MI.
  4. mrkosar

    mrkosar LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 664

    how much does it cost, how much do you apply and how often?
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    So there is a possibility that the theory of digesting the thatch is true!
    There are some extension agents that suggest that clippings can digest thatch, but not sure how they researched it.
    I have one lawn I am experimenting with that will let me know when I blow leaves this fall. If I am not blowing up chunks of sod then I am moving in the right direction.
    Thanks for the confirmation of overfertilizing and this Microthatch bears investigation.
  6. lawnsbytim

    lawnsbytim LawnSite Member
    Posts: 47

    Microthatch costs about $50 for 40,000 sq ft. Mix it up and spray it on and water in. Thieir web site is http://www.tainio.com/micro_thatch.php - Tainio doesn't sell directly, only through distributors. I use CSI.
  7. upidstay

    upidstay LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Posts: 1,341

    I have found that a good aeration program will take care of thatch. Takes a little while, but it does work.
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    The microthatch website doesn't say much about the product, the name of the organism, habitat for the organism, or cultural practices necessary for optimum activity of the organism.
    Does it say anything about that on the container?
    Is it affected by pesticides such as talstar or others?
    Will it speed the digestion of grass clippings as well?
  9. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    Thatch becomes a problem when it starts to inhibit water and oxygen movement into the soil.

    By recycling your clippings, your encouraging microbial activity/decomposition in the areas where thatch is most likely to build up. Make sure your using a good mulching mower or at least a good mulching blade and take your catcher off.

    Some grasses are more prone to thatch buildup than others. Ones that are more prone to thatch, a supplement nitrogen source may be needed in order to promote quicker decomposition without robbing N from the turf.

    Why not run a vertical mower over it, core, and top seed? Cover your seed with a high quality compost. Also a vertical mowing 1-2 a year doesn't hurt with grasses prone to thatch.
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    The idea of grass clippings being a good thing to reduce the occurence of thatch in the first place seems to the predominate one.
    Whether boosted with microbes or just naturally the ground would breathe better, longer if clippings were left behind at least once in a while. Along with mechanical means, that process makes sense to me.
    Thanks guys.

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