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dethatching ?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by greentech2007, Feb 11, 2011.

  1. greentech2007

    greentech2007 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 54

    What are the advantages of dethatching a lawn. Looking in to buying a dethatcher.
  2. ohiogreenworks

    ohiogreenworks LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 300

    Dethatching is going to bring up all the dead grass that will choke out new growth. If you dont dethatch it can also increase insect and disease occurance. You should dethatch in spring, therefore you get all the dead up from the winter and allow more growth during spring.
  3. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,721

    I don't care for it. A lot of work and too much debris to dispose of. Grass is thin for two weeks and then---it looks just the same, as before.

    If you plan to sow seed--then it may be helpful--but not as good as a slit-seeder.
  4. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    Thanks for the reminder. My aeration brochures will have a MAJOR spiel that true dethatching is costly, hard on the turf....etc. And how annual or bi-annual aeration with my service will cost less, greater benefit etc....and far less work for me.

    Power raking IMO is with spring tines. It does help perk up the turf as long as you don't get to aggressive and is largely cosmetic. Problem is people want more ground out and the lawn gets scorched. It is a hard to please scenario. People are just convinced the lawn needs to be scrubbed out. Back in the day when I was just a clueless homeowner myself I'd hand rake my brown dormant grass every spring. Better off doing a low scalp mow.

    Those front mount ZTR attachments of 3 rows of passive spring loaded tines is hardly dethatching.....it's not even power raking. Try passive raking. A spring tine bar mounted on a BlueBird or Husky seeder or power rake will do a vastly better job. 3 rows of 18 tines sping rapidly over the grass will pull up waaaay more loose stuff than those passive rakes will.

    True dethatching is flail blades grinding down into the true thatch layer picking up tons of debris wishing you had bid higher on the job.
  5. JoJo1990

    JoJo1990 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 244

    Dethatching is work...but that's what we get paid for, right? Dethatching plays a critical role in proper turf care. However, it rarely is needed every year. Some thatch is actually beneficial to the crown of the plant to help protect it from scorching heat and aid the soil in retaining moisture. Too much thatch can be a breeding ground for fungus and insects. The decaying material can also hold in too much moisture and essentially create its own diseases.

    As a general rule, I would suggest that most residential cool season lawns can benefit from dethatching every 3-5 years. This is a general statement because there are so many variables such as excessive N causing quick shoot growth, mulching or bagging clippings, regular irrigation, what length of grass blade is cut each time etc.

    If you are going to do the service, a slice seeder machine can first dethatch and then plant seed. This is an excellent time to do both as the surface soil is disturbed which provides good seed to soil contact. It's also very hard on the turf so make sure you customer knows about proper care after the fact.
  6. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    It is good to see the spot on description of dethatching by Exact and Jo Jo. It is amazing how people do not truly know what thatch is. That being said, in 16 years of lawn care as a "pro" I have truly only encountered 2 lawns that had a major thatch issue. I like the analogy of the wool blanket under the grass. You could run a comb over a wool blanket and not pick anything up. You have to cut into it to get rid of the blanket. Yes true dethatching is destructive and very time/labor intense.

    Now the publics perception of thatch or dethatching is to take the tine rakes IE Walkers or JRCO and run over the lawn in the spring. It does loosen the matted grass and will also loosen some sticks and crap that has been packed down over winter. After a vacuuming the lawn looks nice and all are happy. It is not true dethatching but it is what the customer thinks. Most don't care for me to explain the true meaning. They just want the lawn to look good in the spring. It is a very popular and profitable add-on for me in the spring. I always go thru about 10 masks a week to keep the dust out of my mouth and nose.
  7. tombo82685

    tombo82685 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 288

    As mow ed said, thatch in lawns is not really that common, its more of an issue on golf courses. One of the reasons why it's not an issue in lawns is because the types of grasses are not really thatch producing grasses out side of the bluegrasses and creeping red fescue in shaded areas. If you have a solid monoculture of bluegrass then i would say aerate every year. Most lawns have a smorgasborg of tall fescue per rye fine fescue in shaded areas and kentucky blue. The bluegrasses and your red fescue are the thatch producers.

    As others have touched upon already the benefits on removing thatch a couple that were left out. In removing thatch it helps with better air ciculation, water pentration. If you spray insecticides the insecticides can be bound up in the thatch and not pentrated into the soil where it is needed also is the same for systemic fungicides that move acropetally. Thatch can also indirectly aid in lowering your PH
  8. sodfather24D

    sodfather24D LawnSite Member
    Messages: 84

    Kudos to tombo. I just wanted to add zoysia grass as well to the list. Thatch problems also can lead to fungal problems if it becomes too bad. I think a lot of lawncare companies are over doing it by dethatching on a schedule and removing some of the needed thatch. I only dethatch as needed.
  9. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,280

    Not a lot of benefit to dethatching as far as I am concerned. Overrated.
    Aeration is much better.

    That said, people will call me wanting it this year so may pick up a jrco on my Z to do those lawns.

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