Thatch

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Wattslandscaping, Jul 25, 2008.

  1. Wattslandscaping

    Wattslandscaping LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    From a distance my lawn looks great, however when I'm mowing I can see all the thatch on my lawn. I rake the lawn several times a year, yet I still get thatch. I wanted to know if anyone had any tips on: 1. How to get rid of thatch (other than raking). and 2. How to keep it from coming back. I live in Chicago and have Kentucky Blue. I bag the grass when I mow. Thanks in advance for all your help!
     
  2. turfcobob

    turfcobob LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 878

    Define what you think is thatch. Thatch is that organic layer on top of the soil (mineral) composed mostly of dead or dying roots and the fiber parts of plants.

    You can use a soil probe or a plug to check this layer, just like plugging a water melon.

    If the layer is over .50 inches thick you could be getting into trouble.

    To remove thatch use a machine called a power rake, dethather or one of a dozen names. It is a machine with vertical blades that cut into and tear the thatch layer out usually causing great harm to the lawn itself.

    .5 to 1 inch I would suggest you go on a vigerous aeration program and leave the plugs on top of the lawn to break up slowly working into the thatch layer. That is aerate at least twice a year with at least a dozen or more holes per sq ft.

    turfcobob
     
  3. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Posts: 2,636

    If your lawn is thin, you can see the thatch more easily. How high do you mow it? How often? Do you fertilize it regularly?

    But, the thatch problem we usually see with Kentucky blue is caused by too much fertilizer, Nitrogen in particular. What fertilizer do you apply(have applied), how much, and how often? Bigger chem companies like Scotts and Truegreen cause the KB thatch problem a lot out here.

    I heard an old trick to spray your lawn with molasses to decrease thatch. The new understanding is that the sugar feeds the microbes which eat the thatch. Never tried it, but will someday.

    Another thing we see with KB is if the nutrient balance is off, your grass blade has a faster die-off time, and you tend to have more "brown blades" in it. Have you had your soil tested within the past 2 years?

    Post a pic and we can direct you a little better. :)
     
  4. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Posts: 2,636

    Oh, and how many hours do you have on your mower blades foim the last time they were sharpened?
     
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,082

    Over fertilizing cause the roots to grow at the surface to get nutrients. Soon it blocks access to the soil below and now is in a viscious cycle of needing more fertilizer at the surface to grow more roots there.

    JD is correct about a microbially active soil to prevent hydrophoby and thatch and inaccessable nutrients. Molasses or sugar is helpful, and compost will coninue to feed the soil. With an addition of compost you should easily be able to leave the clippings.

    What kind of soil do you have and how deep does the water penetrate on each irrigation cycle?
     

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