mulching vs. bagging problem

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by way to grow, Jan 29, 2005.

  1. way to grow

    way to grow LawnSite Member
    Messages: 46

    I know the old school thought of mulching vs. bagging is that mulching causes thatch. I know that we now know better. That mulching does not contribute to thatch? Am I right? I do fertilizing only (hybrid organic/synthetic program). I sub-out all of my mowing. I know a great guy that only does mulching, but my parter is somewhat of the old school of thought that mulching causes thatch. Do you guys know of any places I could point him to change his mind? What should I do here? Thanks for all of your help.
    Yes, you are correct!

    A layer of organic material between the crown of the plant and the true soil surface. Primarily consist of living or partially decomposed STEM and ROOT TISSUE. Stem, crown, and root tissue contain high levels of lignin in cell walls, that is VERY SLOW to decompose. GRASS CLIPPING are rapidly decomposed by bacteria and fungi, and don't contribute to thatch. Actually, a little thatch is beneficial to turfgrass if less than 1/2 inches.


    1) You need to have a turf program that is biologically friendly to the living soil. This program will consist of humus, organic (also natural) fertilizers, and even grass clipping. You should only apply material to the soil or turfgrass that has the least harmful effects on the living soil. Avoid fertilizers with high salt indexed or chlorine, since the can be very detrimental to microbes.
    2) Get the soil chemistry correct. All of your base saturations need to be in balance.
    3) Maintain the proper levels of oxygen in the soil.
    4) Proper water management
    5) Applying the correct quanity and type of nitrogen for your specific turfgrass and intended use.

    These five items will effect the life of the microbes, which are need to decompose thatch.

    Turfgrass species have different thatching tendency.
    high thatch tendency are: Hybrid bermundagrass and bentgrass
    medium to high: St. Augustine and Zoysia
    medium : centipede
    low to medium: bluegrass, and fine fescue
    low: buffalo, common bermunda, tall fescue, and ryegrass

    A) Avoid excessive moisture, especially daily irrigation
    B) Avoid heavy use of pesticides, they MAY destroy the living soil microbes
    C) Don't over fertilize the turfgrass, use the correct amount for your species and intended use.
    D) AVOID high use of water soluble nitrogen, it only produces
    excessive growth, further compounding the problem.
    The last two , c&d, are the major factors in producing thatch!

    IF my turfgrass had a thatch problem, follow the above practices, use a mechanical means to remove thatch, and BAG the grass clipping until thatch was less than 1/2 inches deep.

    Above material is from my knowledge, joel simmons, and bill knoop.
  4. dishboy

    dishboy LawnSite Fanatic
    from zone 6
    Messages: 6,183

    Way to Grow,
    I am fairly close to you, although I have not been to Utah, I assume growing conditions are similar to here.

    Last season I went to mulch mowing and mulched exclusively until the big leaf drop. I can say I saw no indication that thatch was forming. If fact I was amazed how the clippings were processed or incorporated into the turf, as I was hard pressed to even find any clippings the the following week.

    I would agree with all the info Tim gave you, and am confident if you have a good organic program along with mulching you will see a improvement in turf quality, as well as better shade and heat tolerance.

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