Thatch----Which is it

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Personal Pride, Jul 18, 2003.

  1. Personal Pride

    Personal Pride LawnSite Member
    Posts: 14

    Ok, I have been reading around her for a while now, and I have a question.

    I have seen conflicting information as to the source of thatch, in the very same thread I saw two starkly different reasons, one said too infrequent waterings, and the other was too much watering. I know it is normal to have some thacth, and that it really doesn't come from clippings as many customers suggest but........
    WHICH IS IT???????:dizzy: :dizzy: :dizzy:
  2. KenH

    KenH LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Posts: 1,622

    Thatch should be a thin layer of naturally occurring dead material, ie. crowns and stems from the grass plant. A little thatch is good for the lawn, but too much thatch is not. Many things can lead to accumulating thatch layers: Excessive water, drought (causes more plant material to die), improper soil pH, excessive grass clippings, among others. It is true that normal clippings do not contribute to thatch(assuming proper soil chemistry) , as long as you are somewhat following the 1/3 rule, and clumps are not constantly left on the lawn. Thatch buildup impedes air/fert movement in/to the soil, and allows a "safe haven" for variuos insects and pests.
  3. Personal Pride

    Personal Pride LawnSite Member
    Posts: 14

    So with respect to watering it is both, but only in the extremes. Too much or too little??
  4. KenH

    KenH LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Posts: 1,622

    Yes. Anything which causes less than favorable growing conditions will cause thatch accumulation.
  5. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    I couldn't have said it better myself
  6. awm

    awm LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,354

    i agree that the leavings arnt detremental if managed rite .... but as far as im concerned any clippings become part of the surface cover,, ,which i call thatch...thatch is only bad if it impedes the growth or health of the grass.... in my opinion it acts as mulch for the grass plant,,,more often than not.... this dealin with primarily fescue,and of course jmo.
  7. yardmonkey

    yardmonkey LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 340

    Horticultural agent at local extension office told me the main causes of thatch are over-watering and overuse of high-nitrogen chemical fertilizers.

    Supposedly some grasses such as zoysia are naturally prone to thatch.

    I don't think I have ever seen anything that might be considered thatch.

    A "buildup of dead organic matter" such as accumulated grass clippings is, as I understand it, not really thatch - but can have the same effects. This can be caused by the use of chemicals, since they kill the micro-organisms (and even earthworms) in the soil which are responsible for breaking down and decomposing organic matter. Top-dressing with compost may help correct this.
  8. KenH

    KenH LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Posts: 1,622

    Take a soil profile of any established lawn, and I can guarantee you you will see some thatch.

    "..a mat of undecomposed plant material (as grass clippings) accumulated next to the soil in a grassy area (as a lawn)" Websters Definition.
  9. nelbuts

    nelbuts LawnSite Bronze Member
    from SW, FL
    Posts: 1,053

    Webster don't know beans!

    Too much water, high amounts of fertilizer, heavy (clumps) of grass, stems, rizones, and natural dead materal all contribute to thatch.

    If you haven't seen thatch then try some St. Augustine varieties. We have to verticut lawns here about every three to five years if the home owner maintains property or if True Green fertilizes them. Good money but hard dirty work to remove. Some of you up north use a power rake. We use a verticutter that has blades that cuts the turf into thousands of little plugs and lifts up the thatch. Then it has to be raked by hand or vacumed up with mowers. Since I do not catch grass we hand rake which results in a better job but more time consuming.
  10. KenH

    KenH LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Posts: 1,622

    Just a clarification. Thatch IS natural dead material. You just listed some of the causes.

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