Detaching Lawn

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by nhoj, Sep 1, 2012.

  1. nhoj

    nhoj LawnSite Member
    Messages: 25

    How often should one detach there lawn?

    Should one do it every year?

    I detached a lawn yesterday and the last time it was done was 5 years ago. The person catches the grass each time they mow.
  2. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,778

    What kind of grass? Grass clippings do not contribute to thatch.
  3. Ticolawnllc

    Ticolawnllc LawnSite Senior Member
    from Wall NJ
    Messages: 424

    You could take a plug tool and look at the sample. That way you will KNOW when to dethatch. I do it at least every two years. At most every year. I did just hook up a jrco thatch rake. I'll most likely use it every fall and spring clean up
  4. Dave does lawns

    Dave does lawns LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 257

    how often you de-thatch depends on the current level of present thatch. Having/leaving some is good for the lawn, (1/2"). anything more and I would de-thatch it.

    I have only done a few thatch removal jobs myself. How ever I power rake to a tune of about $10,000 every spring.

    I consider power raking to be a light comb of the lawn surface, only removing any dead stems and any debris that accumulated over the winter.

    If your customer had a lot of thatch, this is what I would advise you try to educate them..... Stop bagging their clipping, leaving them on the lawn will help break down the thatch below them. Aerate 1-2 time a year to make sure air is able to get to the roots and the underside of any thatch present, again helping it to breakdown. If done correct think of it as adding compost (composted grass) to your lawn. This will ideal real estate for worms to live which naturally add compost and aerate the soil in a way we never could.

    EDIT: I am in cool season grass which 5 months of snow so of course I have ZERO experience with warm season.
  5. nhoj

    nhoj LawnSite Member
    Messages: 25

    I am sorry that I did not tell you that I live in Northwest Ohio and yes Cool Season Grass .

    I was told from a friend to seed a lawn than run the Spit Seeder over it in both directions leave the thatch on it and than put more seed over it and let the rain or water do the rest.

    I feel that you should remove the thatch and put seed on the lawn.

    Which way is the best way to do this? Yest it is a over seed, since we had a drought this Summer and had allot of dead areas.

    You might ask way seed it than run the Spit Seeder over it without seed in it, the answer is the hopper will not hold seed any more.

    If you have questions please ask and I will be happy to answer.
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Dead grass thatch should stay on the lawn to decompose and provide cover for seed... using a slit-seeder in an attempt to get the seed under the grass mulch is good, but seed will find its way into the mulch just fine...

    Living thatch on the other hand doesn't allow seed to penetrate its waterproof layer, but then it is thick with weak grass already... knowing the status of this living thatch will help you decide how to proceed with the seeding...

    I can think of no circumstance where detaching will help the situation of either type of thatch... raking in the $10K every Spring is probably the only reason to keep de-thatching on the lawncare list... :)
  7. nhoj

    nhoj LawnSite Member
    Messages: 25

    My next question is : Should I remove the thatch so that I can put down the second half of the seed? I was told to put the seed on half the recoumded amount than when down put the second half on. So that is where I am now.

    That is why I am not sure if I should remove the thatch now or wait till it rains which it is to do Sunday, so they say. By waiting for the rain the seed will get washed down into the soil if there is any in the thatch. I would be afraied of some being in it. At $1.95 a pound and I used 125 LB. of it. Yes it can get a little salty if you know what I mean.

    So what would be the smart thing to do, remove it or keep it on and put the other half over it?

    Or mow it up and than put it on after you have cut it up? All total I will have 225 pounds on it.

    I would like to do it right.
  8. JoJo1990

    JoJo1990 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 244

    Axe - That is poor information.

    Thatch layers can increase and build for a number of reasons. When thatch, especially in cool season lawns, reaches over a half of one inch thick, it should be reduced. This would be an excellent time to verticut or use a power seeder to first de-thatch and then collect that layer. Next, add the seed to your machine and do your seeding passes. You will still pull up more thatch on these subsequent passes but in most cases, that can be left on op of the grass and it will fall back down to the soil on its own.

    I've seen little thatch reduction when core aeration is used for the sole purpose of reducing thatch, although it does help to some degree.
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Let me see if I got this straight...

    You've already put down a significant amount of seed and you're wondering if you should rip up and remove the dead grass/clippings and remove it!!??!

    How much seed do you think will be removed at the same time you remove the mulch thatch that you've already sown in to???
  10. jfoxtrot9

    jfoxtrot9 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 290

    I'm with Smallaxe on this one. (although we disagree on aeration. I feel it should be done yearly for multiple reasons)

    Per the Ohio State University Extension. (

    "Thatch control is both preventive and curative in nature. Thatch prevention can be managed by proper use of fertilizers and pesticides and the implementation of proper cultural practices. Maintaining a soil pH between 6.0-7.0 encourages microbial degradation and earthworm activity. Selecting turfgrass species which do not commonly form thatch will also prevent/reduce the rate of thatch development. Mowing grass regularly at proper heights (generally 2.0 to 2.5 inches) can also help slow thatch build-up. The turfgrass clippings only need to be removed when grass is wet or extra long and a layer of clippings remains on the surface.

    Topdressing, the process in which a thin layer of soil (1/8 inch) is added onto the turf, is an another preventive approach which will help prevent thatch build-up. This light coating of soil helps improve the environment at the soil surface and facilitates microbial activity and thatch prevention. This soil should be similar in texture to the original soil to prevent drainage or other problems due to incompatible soils. Peat moss or other high organic materials should not be used, as these products will add to thatch deposition. Topdressing should not be added on top of an already existing thatch layer. A serious layering problem will result, further complicating turfgrass culture.

    Curative control measures should be implemented once thatch accumulation has begun but before the layer exceeds 0.50 inch in thickness. Cultivation practices that address existing thatch layers include dethatchers (i.e. power rakes, lawn combers, vertical mowers), mower blade attachments and core aerification. For many years, dethatching was recommended as a way to remove the thatch layer. This method physically removes the thatch and is most effective if the existing layer is less than 0.50 inch in depth. This operation should be done during a cool season of the year when several weeks of good growth and recovery can be anticipated following the dethatching. Experience has shown that early fall is the best time for removing thatch. Fewer weed problems occur and two growing seasons (fall and spring) follow before the lawn encounters summer stress. Very early spring is the next best time. Machines for removing thatch can be rented at most tool and equipment rental companies. In recent years, various mower blade attachments have been advertised by retailers. These blades come equipped with steel prongs which physically tear the mat and thatch layer during the mowing operation. Even though a considerable volume of material is pulled to the surface, these attachments usually have little impact on the total quantity of plant debris in the thatch layer. Some damage to the desirable turfgrass should be anticipated with these attachments and, therefore, should only be used in the spring and/or fall during periods of favorable growing conditions.

    The last option, which research has shown to be the best approach to thatch control, is core aerification. Core aerification, also referred to as aerification, is the process where hollow tines are used to remove plugs of thatch and soil from the lawn and deposit them on the surface. Once the plugs of soil are deposited on the surface, rainfall or irrigation will incorporate the soil into the thatch layer. This soil addition to the thatch layer will improve the environment in this area resulting in increased microbial activity and thatch breakdown."

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