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Do I need to dethatch or aerate?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by mcharlto88, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. mcharlto88

    mcharlto88 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    My wife and I bought a new house last September so this spring I'm working on renovating the lawn. Attached are some pictures of a few random spots in my back yard that are pretty heavy in dead/brown grass. My question is, do I need to dethatch my lawn? Or do I need to aerate it? I've read in a few different places that dethatching isn't neccessary aerating will help with thatch. With that, I've read that people wait until fall to aerate and seed, but being the impatient person I am, I'd rather get the problem taken care of early so allow the yard to grow. With that said, I'm very new to lawn care so I'm not sure if that is a good way to think, and if that is the correct process. Can somebody help me and give me some suggestions on how to fix this problem?

    I've read that having a heavy thatch problem leads to fungus growth, and I noticed I had mushrooms growing in multiple places last fall. I'm also assuming/wondering if a lot of my grass is brown/dead because I'm not getting proper oxygen and water to my lawn from a thick layer of thatch? I've already applied Fertilizer with Dimension, which was about a month ago so I'm not sure I need to do that. I'd greatly appreciate any help!

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  2. mcharlto88

    mcharlto88 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    One other thing I'll add too. Can anybody tell me the name of the grass that's in the picture on the very bottom? I'm trying to figure out how to get rid of that so I can have actual grass in my lawn instead of this ugly stuff. Thanks!
  3. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,562

    I would wait a few weeks. Brown color is just the dead leaf blades left over from last winter. They will decompose on their own...and...new green grass will come up from the roots and crowns. What part of Minnesota are you in? There is a good chance that the brown is due to one of the sod-quality Kentucky bluegrass seed types. They are very slow to green up in spring. The sod-quality types are much darker green once they get going when the temps hit about 80.

    The wide blade green grass is probably tall fescue--very difficult to eliminate. Dig it out where practical.
  4. mcharlto88

    mcharlto88 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    I actually live in Central/South Central Iowa. I was walking around in my lawn some more after writing this and noticed there are actually some mushrooms that have popped up since last weekend when I mowed. There is also a difinitive line between my yard and my neighbor's yard. We mow our lawns about the same length, and I've actually raised my mower up slightly in hopes that it would cut back on amount of grass clippings that I'm putting down each week.

    Fescue, that's what the guy at JDL called it but I couldn't remember. He said they have some stuff to kill it, but it's expensive. About $100 for a tiny little bottle, but he said the stuff is very potent. I'll probably end up getting some, but probably not until next year or maybe this fall so I can reseed those areas before winter.
  5. turfcobob

    turfcobob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 878

    I put in a lifetime in Nebraska the last 20 on an acreage north of Lincoln on a clay hill. I have seen your lawn around my house.

    Early spring you will have the dead brown stuff not a bad thing it protects the blue grass early on. The wide blade stuff is Fescue, live with it as it is not all that bad. Actually a lawn of 50 / 50 fescue / bluegrass is a good tough lawn. The blue comes in early and will spread the fescue is a clump plant that is very drought tolerate for when it gets hot in july / aug.

    To bring that lawn into shape do this.
    Check to see how much actual thatch you have. Eith use a soil sampler and pull a plug or get a good knife and plug your lawn like a melon. If the organic layer (thatch) a layer of dead gras and debris is more than a half inch then dethatch it. Too much thatch is bad all the way around. To find your worst thatch walk the lawn with hard soled boots / shoes on and when the grass feels like you are walkiing on carpet or soft that is your worst thatch. Plug it....

    Thatch ok then aerate the crap out of it. Try ot get 10 or more holes per sq ft. With rolling aerators that will mean several times over the lawn. After you aerate mow the lawn as short as you can picking up everthing. This will pick up some of the cores and break up some. Then put down some fertilizer and water it in. The holes will get the fert to the roots, the damaged plants will want more water to heal and this will create new green growth and more roots to get the fert and water. Thus more green lawn so you get to mow more often.
  6. macgyver_GA

    macgyver_GA LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 826

    Interesting how different areas of the country consider certain grasses "weeds". Down here in the south, tall fescue is pretty common. Typically our cool season "blends" we seed with down here are various fescue varieties, KBG, and rye. I just put about 100 lbs down for my Uncle last weekend after he had a bunch of trees removed and lots of bare soil left.
  7. ChiTownAmateur

    ChiTownAmateur LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 386

    In the Midwest/North the barefoot feel of a grass is probably the best judge of the quality as far as most homeowners are concerned. They and their kids want to walk on it and feel a really soft nice feel without a lot of clumps. Tall fescue is so stemmy and tough it is very much unappealing to a northern foot. In the south, where it's so often super hot and sometimes also humid, the grasses from up here can't survive easily without a ton of water and care. The southern grasses are much more hardy but tend to not have the same nice barefoot feel (unless you are on a well maintained golf course).

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