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Ok, I have been reading around her for a while now, and I have a question.

I have seen conflicting information as to the source of thatch, in the very same thread I saw two starkly different reasons, one said too infrequent waterings, and the other was too much watering. I know it is normal to have some thacth, and that it really doesn't come from clippings as many customers suggest but........
WHICH IS IT???????:dizzy: :dizzy: :dizzy:
 

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Thatch should be a thin layer of naturally occurring dead material, ie. crowns and stems from the grass plant. A little thatch is good for the lawn, but too much thatch is not. Many things can lead to accumulating thatch layers: Excessive water, drought (causes more plant material to die), improper soil pH, excessive grass clippings, among others. It is true that normal clippings do not contribute to thatch(assuming proper soil chemistry) , as long as you are somewhat following the 1/3 rule, and clumps are not constantly left on the lawn. Thatch buildup impedes air/fert movement in/to the soil, and allows a "safe haven" for variuos insects and pests.
 

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Originally posted by KenH
Thatch should be a thin layer of naturally occurring dead material, ie. crowns and stems from the grass plant. A little thatch is good for the lawn, but too much thatch is not. Many things can lead to accumulating thatch layers: Excessive water, drought (causes more plant material to die), improper soil pH, excessive grass clippings, among others. It is true that normal clippings do not contribute to thatch(assuming proper soil chemistry) , as long as you are somewhat following the 1/3 rule, and clumps are not constantly left on the lawn. Thatch buildup impedes air/fert movement in/to the soil, and allows a "safe haven" for variuos insects and pests.
I couldn't have said it better myself
 

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i agree that the leavings arnt detremental if managed rite .... but as far as im concerned any clippings become part of the surface cover,, ,which i call thatch...thatch is only bad if it impedes the growth or health of the grass.... in my opinion it acts as mulch for the grass plant,,,more often than not.... this dealin with primarily fescue,and of course jmo.
 

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Horticultural agent at local extension office told me the main causes of thatch are over-watering and overuse of high-nitrogen chemical fertilizers.

Supposedly some grasses such as zoysia are naturally prone to thatch.

I don't think I have ever seen anything that might be considered thatch.

A "buildup of dead organic matter" such as accumulated grass clippings is, as I understand it, not really thatch - but can have the same effects. This can be caused by the use of chemicals, since they kill the micro-organisms (and even earthworms) in the soil which are responsible for breaking down and decomposing organic matter. Top-dressing with compost may help correct this.
 

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Originally posted by yardmonkey


I don't think I have ever seen anything that might be considered thatch.

A "buildup of dead organic matter" such as accumulated grass clippings is, as I understand it, not really thatch - but can have the same effects.
Take a soil profile of any established lawn, and I can guarantee you you will see some thatch.

"..a mat of undecomposed plant material (as grass clippings) accumulated next to the soil in a grassy area (as a lawn)" Websters Definition.
 

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Webster don't know beans!

Too much water, high amounts of fertilizer, heavy (clumps) of grass, stems, rizones, and natural dead materal all contribute to thatch.

If you haven't seen thatch then try some St. Augustine varieties. We have to verticut lawns here about every three to five years if the home owner maintains property or if True Green fertilizes them. Good money but hard dirty work to remove. Some of you up north use a power rake. We use a verticutter that has blades that cuts the turf into thousands of little plugs and lifts up the thatch. Then it has to be raked by hand or vacumed up with mowers. Since I do not catch grass we hand rake which results in a better job but more time consuming.
 

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Originally posted by nelbuts
Webster don't know beans!

Too much water, high amounts of fertilizer, heavy (clumps) of grass, stems, rizones, and natural dead materal all contribute to thatch.
Just a clarification. Thatch IS natural dead material. You just listed some of the causes.
 

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You want to keep your saprophytes happy. You can do that by using natural organic fertilizers, and creating a good environment for them. They would much rather eat things with a low lignin content than something like grass clippings than things like stolons, rhizomes, leaves, etc.
 

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A few things to add. It's not overwatering as much as frequent shallow waterings. You know just like all the sprinkler co. set up the systems. 15 min every 2 days Ridiculious! Infrequent deep waterings help drive the roots deeper therefore reducing the mass of root material on the surface. Another cause of thatch can be low cut height. The leaf of the plant can not significantly add to the thatch layer because it is mostly water, and the rest breaks down quickly. However the stem of the plant will break down much slower and can build up in the thatch layer. Of course if you go cut off 9" of leaf and clump it all up you will kill out some patches of grass. But this is not really thatch. Once you have witnessed turf with a real thatch problem and do a significant core sample you will understand. It is mostly a mass of roots growing along the surface. I have seen it 2-3" thick before.
 

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All I have to say is that when I take my "de-thatcher", or power rake, and "de-thatch" the lawn, what I pull out of the soil area certainly looks a whole lot like a bunch of dead, brown, dried up grass. Whether or not it's thatch according to definition I don't care, but it certainly helps to pull that junk out of there. The dozen or so lawns I "de-thatched" this spring are growing like crazy, and look great.

:D
 

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The springtime raking with a gas powered flail rake or machine mounted tine rake is purely a cosmetic function. And a great way to churn bucks at the beginning of the season. It does nothing about thatch buildup. If you want to see thatch, you have to pull a plug of the lawn. See What really is thatch? for a more complete explanation.

P Pride's question has been answered: you can enhance thatch buildup by too little or too much water, as explained by KenH and 1grnlwn. Learn and use proper cultural practices and you generally will not have a thatch problem.
 

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Originally posted by GroundKprs
The springtime raking with a gas powered flail rake or machine mounted tine rake is purely a cosmetic function. And a great way to churn bucks at the beginning of the season. It does nothing about thatch buildup. If you want to see thatch, you have to pull a plug of the lawn. See What really is thatch? for a more complete explanation.

P Pride's question has been answered: you can enhance thatch buildup by too little or too much water, as explained by KenH and 1grnlwn. Learn and use proper cultural practices and you generally will not have a thatch problem.
All I know is before I dethatch, there's a nice, tight layer of grass, dead stuff, etc on top of the soil in the lawn. After I dethatch, all I see is dirt, the dead stuff is gone. Whether it's technically thatch, whatever, it works to make the lawn grow better. If it builds up all over again, I get to do it again in a couple of years for another couple o' hundred bucks.

:D
 

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Well, TJ has learned how to make money. Maybe someday he will learn how to honestly manage turfgrass. The "dead grass" can be seen in almost every lawn every spring. But dead grass decays rapidly, so why pull it up??

Try this some day: do your spring "dethatching" on one half of a lawn area, and just clean heavy winter debris from the other half. By Memorial Day, you won't see any difference, except that there will be more weed growth in the "dethatched" area, because you have exposed more weed seeds to light with your "dethatching".

A spring flail raking can be beneficial if you have had a significant bout of snow mold. In this case, the dead grass blades are plastered to the ground, and inhibit light and air penetration. The intense raking will fluff the surface so new shoots can grow in more rapidly.
 

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A lawn with a heavy build up of dead grass and THATCH will not decay that thatch. If it did, people wouldn't have to call me to pull it up and get rid of it. As far as exposing the lawn to weeds, that is why you seed the lawn after a dethatching. It's a perfect time to plant seed, with the soil exposed. I did a detatching for a customer's neighbor this year, just half the lawn where he had a particular problem with a heavy build up of THATCH. If you go today and look at the lawn, you can see almost as if someone drew a line right down the middle of his yard. Where I dethatched and seeded the lawn is green, thick, and growing. The half I didn't do is a nice brown color and you can clearly see where the dead grass and thatch is choking that side out. He has already called me for a dethatching on that side this fall.

You see, I have learned how to make money and manage lawns at the same time. In my book that puts me 1 step ahead of those that tell people "Don't worry about the dead grass and thatch, it'll just disappear magically if you wish it away."

:D
 

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Sorry, sir. For your example of seeding one half and not seeding the other: of course the seeded area should look better. And an overseeding seedbed is much better done with aeration and/or slit seeding.

Just wanted to point out to some who are open minded that the spring "dethatching" is generally an unnecessary function. Of course someone making money on it will argue all kinds of merits for the procedure. For over 20 years I have told all my clients that the spring "dethatching" is just a means to churn $$ early in the season. I have used the flail rake more to break up cores from spring aeration than any other function.

If someone is going to really dethatch, you're going to use a sodcutter or a real powerrake, with fixed vertical knives like this:

Paint Art Bumper Gas Auto part
 

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When I sell dethatchings, or get calls for estimates, I don't just push the procedure or do the job regardless. If a client doesn't need it, I'm not going to sell it to them. Usually it's a lawn with an intense accumulation of dead grass, thatch, or whatever, and usually the procedure improves the lawn. If the dead stuff isn't decomposing, and pulling it out will help the lawn to live, what's the problem?

And I find that using the power rake before overseeding helps the seed to grow. If find that just throwing the seed down doesn't do the trick. The thatch, accumulated dead grass, compacted soil all works against seed germination. With the power rake, the dead stuff underneath gets pulled up, the soil is exposed to the seed, and everything grows much better. Before I bought the machine, people would ask for a 'raking' before I seeded. You know how much it sucks to hand rake a yard? A big yard? The machine cuts down all that work, makes the whole process faster and cheaper. I could post here all day on the lawns I have turned around by dethatching and seeding.

If you want to take a stand against doing the procedure, fine. But I'm telling you the process has improved the yards I do it in, and the clients are happy. Personally, I believe it's closed minded to unilaterally discount the process when it's obvious it is beneficial to many lawns.

And your example looks strikingly like the machine I use.
 

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Now we're getting somewhere. I guess TJ is using vertical knives, not flails or spring tines, to effect dethatching. But he only talks about the visible dead grass. How does he know how deep to set the knives to remove the thatch if he has not pulled a plug. Is he actually removing the thatch, or just the dead grass? Real dethatching is a tough, dirty job.

He threw me off by doing this procedure in the spring. Everyone knows that cool season turf does much better from seeding if done in the late summer.

Hire someone who really knows turf - a turf educator, researcher, or good golf super - to criticize your properties, and he will have to bring a soil probe or cup cutter to assess the health of each property. If you're going to honestly and intelligently manage turf, you have to look at where and how it is growing, and that means looking under the surface. This pic is explained in above noted thread:

Terrestrial plant Plant Font Grass Soil
 
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