dethatch or not to dethatch?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by 866lawnman, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. 866lawnman

    866lawnman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Currently I own a core aeration company. I've been thinking of adding dethatching to my services because I've had a lot of requests for it. I'm not sure as to if its worth the hassle. Can anyone help?

  2. turfcobob

    turfcobob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 878

    I would dethatch only when there is not other alternative. It is nasty hard work with little reward. It does more damage than good to the grass plant. Especially blue grass which is high population in your area. Dethatching unit tend to damage the bluegrass plant often to the point of killiing it. There are alternatives.

    Dethatching is done only as a last resort if the thatch layer is more than 1 inch thick. If the thatch is less they can go on a very aggressive aeration program of 2 to 3 times a year for a couple years. The intergration of the soil into the thatch layer will speed up the reduction or breakdown of the layer all the while making the plants healthier. You might also try some lime to speed up the breakdown process. The University of Nebraska had a study some years back. Titled (I think) Thatch Management with Aeration.

    More than 1 inch you are going to have to remove it. Price it right as you will be hauling off a ton of stuff. A good bagging mower will work well to pick up the thatch.

  3. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,267

    Good thread - I often thought dethatching is overrated, especially on turf where the thatch level is not extreme. Aeration seems to be a much better process for BOTH dethatching and soil compaction relief.
  4. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    Pretty much the exact thing I was going to type, basically what I tell everyone that inquires about dethatching.

    Aeration, and even using a slicer, will do more good with less harm to the existing lawn. Often guys will do powerraking (dethatching) simply because people ask for it and are willing to pay. The customer is NOT always right...
  5. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,201

    Thatch has never been much of a problem with any of the lawns we take care of so I don't even offer the service. I have never seen a lawn with 1" of thatch build up in my 15 + years of business. We mulch most of the time and the clippings just break down year after year without much buildup if any. If you want to ad services to your company that will make you money then Aerating and over seeding is the way to go. Lawn renovations are steady work for us and its good money.
  6. stevedands

    stevedands LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    What can I expect to spend on a aerator?
  7. packey

    packey LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 556

    look up any good reference material and it will tell you aeration is the prefered method even for getting rid of heavy thatch. I use a tow behind 6 ft plugger aerator and a 30 inch pul behind plugger aerator. I am not as particular on brands as I am on how far the plugs are apart. I want them about 4 inches from each other. and 2-3 inches deep I would suggest you go with a heavier aerator that you can add additional weights to. my small one is an inexpensive agri fab and it does a fairly good job for its price. If I bought another plugger aerator it would be a walk behind like a p800 or maybe a bluebird.
  8. stevedands

    stevedands LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Have you ever hit underground wires? I realize you will need to watch the sprinkler heads, but how about the wires you can't see?
  9. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    I have a surprising % of customers with Zoysia. I will use a power rake set to "dethatch" at height of 1/4 inch above the ground adjusted while on a flat surface. Does that sound about right?
  10. KS_Grasscutter

    KS_Grasscutter LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,335

    Yes I do:laugh:

    Seriously, I KNOW that power raking does very little other than get me VERY covered in dirt, but if someone is gonna pay me to do it (usually 4+ times the mowing rate), well, I am not gonna send them elsewhere.

    Plus, since we're gonna have a Walker aerator this season, I think I will be able to come down on aeration prices slightly, if that's what it takes to convince them to have it aerated instead of power-raked.

    And to answer the original question, what equipment do you have now? If you have a couple Walker mowers to suck up the thatch quickly and easily, I'd probably do it. Plus a dump truck to haul off the thatch is quite important too. If you don't have one, or both of those, I would def. not do it.

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