Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Catcher, Apr 5, 2001.

  1. Catcher

    Catcher LawnSite Member
    Messages: 166

    I always had the belief that a lawn should be de-thatched every 3-4 years to help it stay healthy.
    Some recent conversations with folks who know more about this than me tend to disagree; they say don't de-thatch until you have a 3/4" buildup of thatch extending into the soil.
    What do you guys think?
    Will premature de-thatching hurt the lawn or is it just a waste of time?
    Are you better off not to thatch?
  2. lawnboy82

    lawnboy82 Banned
    Messages: 957

    my suggestion to you would be to just get a tine dethatcher to pull behind your tractor. put that on there and run your lawn over. that should pick up a bit for you. i would say that only if you have a thatch problem you should go and power rake the lawn. because even if you dont have a thatch problem you are still gonna pick up a lot of junk. and even if you do pick up the thatch (undecomposed organic matter) you are never gonna get the mat (partially decomposed organic matter) up. thatching with a spring tine rake will bring up some sticks and light amounts of thatch. the level of thatch is not determined by time but more by the amount of thatch a lawn can process. if your lawn can use up whatever thatch you put down on a weekly basis you shouldnt have a problem unless something gets out of whack in the soil. if you have a lawn that cant handle the thatch build up then you may have to thatch every year. there are ways to tell if you have a thatch problem. they are droughtiness, increased pesticide needs, wet areas, stuff like that.
  3. E-man

    E-man LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Messages: 136

    If you do not have a bad thatch problem I recommend just aerating once or twice a year(spring or fall) this will help keep the thatch level down and help with ccompaction of the soil
  4. peteloare

    peteloare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    While attending a seminar this past January at Michigan State University, they are now saying not to thatch at all. They find it is doing more damage than good.
  5. lawnboy82

    lawnboy82 Banned
    Messages: 957

    all i do is rake the lawns now with a spring tine rake. pull up some of the dead stuff. not thatching at all depends. i would say at least aerate that helps with things other than thatch. but if you have a thatch problem it doesnt just go away. oh one other thing. maybe you dont have a thatch problem by definition. however if you have chinch bugs then you want to dethatch. or verticut
  6. Catcher

    Catcher LawnSite Member
    Messages: 166

    I don't really have a thick buidup (that one can see anyways), I did buy a plug-style aerator and used it last fall. Still trying to find some time to roll the yard, perhaps I'll drag the aerator across it as well.

    Thank you all for clearing this up for me.
  7. greens1

    greens1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 352

    Core airation is the only real way to alliviate thatch and reduce soil compaction. I was asst. super at a 270 acre course for 6 years. I saw all sorts of studies done on compaction and thatch, at a golf course you spend a great deal of time, money and man hours combating both. Peteloare is completely correct. According to every study that I have seen dethatching is completely useless. You end up destroying turf with a dethatcher.

    Core airation has the following benefits:

    1) plug removal alliviates compaction

    2) when the plug is ground up it spreads soil on top of the thatch layer, microbes in the soil then break down the thach layer.

    3) Plug cutters sever rizomes, creating new shoot groth resulting in a thicker lawn.

    Jim L
  8. DeepDivot

    DeepDivot LawnSite Member
    from Kansas
    Messages: 44

    Does anyone know if these 'don't dethatch' studies included zoysia grass? I can believe that dethatching doesn't serve much purpose on grasses like fescues or bluegrass, both which degrade quickly, but have a little more difficult time believing it for zoysia. Zoysia thatch is very slow to decompose and thatch buildup can be severe enough to cause the loss of an entire lawn if not removed periodically.
  9. greens1

    greens1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 352

    Sorry deepdivot, all the studies I have seen have been out of MSU and done on cool season turf. For warm season turf studies you might try Texas A&M
    Good Luck
    Jim L

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