Lawn not growing as well as you think it should? If you keep feeding it consistently, providing it with the nutrients and water it needs without seeing any results, it might mean a thick thatch or compacted soil, or both. Either one of these problems can mean that your grass is struggling to thrive because water, air, and nutrients are not being able to move freely into and through the soil, thus making it difficult for them to reach the roots.
What's the difference between overly compacted soil and thatch? Overly compacted soil is almost impossible to dig through. If you try to insert a screwdriver into the soil and find it difficult, the soil is probably too compacted. When the thatch is too thick, your lawn starts feeling spongy. If you try to poke your finger through the grass to reach the soil, it will be difficult or impossible to do so.
Thatch is an organic layer of living and dead grass stems, roots, and crowns that grow between the vegetation and the soil surface. Thatch layers bigger than an inch make it difficult for air, nutrients, and water to reach the soil. If you want to make sure that your soil continues to grow ideally, then you need to thin the thatch layer.
Before dethatching, you should check your lawn’s layer. You can do this by taking a spade or garden trowel to dig up a small wedge of your lawn grass and soil. The hole will give you a chance to see thatch layer and enable you to measure it. If the thatch layer is 2 inches or more, it may be time for dethatching.
It is best to perform dethatching during peak growth times when the soil is fairly moist, and this can differ depending on your grass type. Why dethatch when your grass is actively growing? Dynamic grass growth accelerates the speed of your lawn’s recovery from dethatching. For grasses like Kentucky bluegrass or other cool-season grasses, this is during late summer or early fall.
On the other hand, grasses like Bermuda grass and other warm-season grasses should be dethatched after the spring green-up or early summer. It is not advisable to dethatch your lawn when it is dormant or stressed, because this will make it more difficult for the grass to recover.
If you’re not sure what type of grass you have or when it is actively growing, we can help you with that as well as with the dethatching process itself.
If you have issues with dead stems and roots building up in your soil, dethatching your lawn may be the solution you’re looking for. But when you are experiencing compaction problems, aerating the soil is probably the better option.
So what’s the difference? You tend to remove some soil layers during aeration, including the thatch layers, and make paths for nutrients and water. This makes it easy to remove and speed up the breakdown of existing thatch. Dethatching, on the other hand, is slicing through the thatch into the soil and removing the accumulated organic matter that is preventing nutrients and water from entering the soil.
In small amounts, thatch can be beneficial to your lawn since it could provide extra nutrients. Thatch buildup only becomes problematic when it accumulates and becomes a thick layer of thatch that is difficult to penetrate, because it prevents moisture and air from getting to your plants and soil.
Over time, that thatch starts causing changes in the color of your grass and causes damage to the soil. If you take too long to act, the thatch eventually starts killing your grass and damaging the soil. Once the soil becomes damaged, it becomes difficult for the grass roots to get the water and nutrients they need. An accumulation of too much thatch also creates an environment for insects such as mosquitoes, which are not only pests but can also carry disease.
At Mountain View Landscaping Inc., we’re experts in creating healthy lawns! If you think you might need thatch removal or lawn aeration, contact us today and speak to one of our lawn care professionals.