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Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by BostonBull, Aug 18, 2008.

  1. BostonBull

    BostonBull LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 520

    How much is the optimal thickness? How "packed" should it be?

    I just took the BR600 to the lawn, and noticed a LOT of very hardpacked areas with 2" of thatch. The grass was growing around these areas and masking them where no grass was growing because of the thatch.

    Should I have my lawn de-thatched and start mulching from scratch next spring, or just blow these spots loose, aerate, seed, and go from there?

    Sorry if this is a basic question!
  2. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308


    How did you determine your thatch layer?
  3. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Posts: 2,636

  4. BostonBull

    BostonBull LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 520

    I was under the impression that thatch was useful at keeping the soil cool, and acting as a mulch in the sense of retaining water, to a certain degree?
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    There are 2 separate ideas/definitions of thatch. One is the accepted definition in that it is: dead roots that have grown to the surface and stems.

    The other idea is that it is a collection of grass clipping and such that accumulates over time.

    Densly packed dead roots and stems become a barrier to water penetration, (necessitating aeration, verticutting, or something) whereas a collection grass clippings do hold and release water into the soil.

    Put on a bunch of sugar/molasses and toss on a few bags of compost if you can find it in the local Walmart Garden Center.
  6. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    I was going to say something long, you did it in a few words, thanks:cool2:, got to go wind just picked up again..............
  7. cudaclan

    cudaclan LawnSite Member
    from Zone 5
    Posts: 152

    Two inches of thatch is too excessive for an immediate response to recovery. Certain grass species (Kentucky Blue) are notorious for excessive thatch accumulation. A high concentration of nitrogen fed and shallow watering contribute to rhizome and stolon surface formation. Thatch does not “blanket” or retain water. It does however harbor pests and disease. Proper cutting height, improved grass species, minimal fertilization (if any), core aeration… incorporated minimize thatch. If you choose to dethatch, you will notice numerous bare spots that were not present. This is from the rhizome/stolons on the surface. Poor lawn maintenance practices created these superficial areas.
  8. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,448

    Aerate the heck put of it, and slit seed.

    In MA, NEVER apply fert in March.... that is when grass grows 60% of it's top growth even if it isn't fertilized in the spring. I bag clippings in the spring because THAT excessive top growth can cause thatch build up... then I mulch in the summer, as the shorter clippings will not increase the thatch layer, but will provide water retention and help reduce summer stress.

    Let grass wake up on it's own in the spring... the roots will go deeper in search on N, and don't water it either unless there is a dry spell... the roots will also go deeper in search of moisture. That lawn may not (will not) green up as fast as other over fert'd lawns, but in August, it will look better than those others.

    If it's that compacted and thatched, I'd aerate this fall... three passes, one horizontal, and two opposing diagonal passes and then slit seed. Aerate again in march, well before most weeds want to germinate. Hold off on fert until mid April, but a good winterizing fert in early November is a good idea... CGM or compost tea if organic is your preference.
  9. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    Have you been drinking again?
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    As I understand botany - roots are always growing. The question is: where in the soil profile are the going to grow best?

    What would the plant do if, let's say, The surface was allowed to dry out and there was NOT 40-0-0 sitting on top of the ground?

    Would the roots near the surface decrease activity and the roots lower in the soil - assuming a higher moisture content - continue growing?

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