Dealing with Lawn Thatch

Thatch is a common issue that effects lawns all over the country – and without looking closely, you may not even spot it at first.

If you do spot it in your garden however, don’t worry! A small amount of thatch can actually be beneficial to the health of your lawn – however if thatch becomes excessive – it will negatively affect the long-term health of you’re the lawn by taking rainwater & blocking out sunlight.

In this blog we will discuss how to diagnose & treat lawn thatch effectively so you can get your garden lawn looking its best!

What is Lawn Thatch?

Thatch is simply a top layer of dead grass & roots that will slowly build up on the surface overtime. When thatch becomes excessive it will act like a sponge and absorb rainwater that would otherwise be soaking into the soil below. Overtime, this can indeed damage your lawn and cause browning throughout the effected areas if the grass roots do not get enough water, particularly in the summer when the sun is at its hottest. Another common issue that excessive thatch may cause – is that the thatch will block any kind of fertiliser or weed killer that you apply to the lawn where it should be utilised by the soil. This can lead to the grass growing unevenly as the areas that are not effected by thatch will flourish, whereas the effected areas will not.

Thatch can be difficult to spot from a distance, but upon close inspection of your lawn you may find patches that differ in colour to the rest of your garden. This could be a subtle shade of green or even a brown hue that has a stringy appearance, unlike fine blades of grass you would expect.

Identification:

  • Your lawn has several variations in colour, usually with a brown haze
  • Spongy texture
  • Stringy/ Moss like appearance
  • Can be brown or green in colour

How to de-thatch your lawn:

De-thatching is the process of removing the pesky thatch from your lawn, and in our opinion is one of the worst jobs in the gardening world. De-thatching is very physically demanding, particularly tough on your arms & back when doing so manually with a rake. You will also need a large garden bin to dispose of the thatch. You can very easily fill an entire wheelie bin when de-thatching an average UK garden lawn so ensure you have a way of disposing of the newly removed thatch before you start.

Before you begin de-thatching, ensure that your grass is nice and short and has been mowed very recently to make the de-thatching process much easier. If you are using a rake to manually remove the thatch, do so by raking in irregular directions, disposing of the thatch as you go. Try to apply pressure evenly and avoid raking too deeply into the soil & to prevent fresh turf being raked up.

De-thatching machines will make the process much quicker and easier than doing so manually by hand. Modern de-thatchers will score the ground to pull apart the thatch and lift it up so you can simply remove the newly removed thatch by hand. If you are lucky enough to have a petrol powered de-thatcher, it is important to ensure that is set to the correct height. To find the correct height, take a small piece of turf on the lawn and test the setting your de-thatcher – one at a time. If the setting is too high, you will leave most of the thatch behind. If the setting is too low, you risk removing healthy blades of grass and leaving your lawn a patchy mess.

If you have a ride-on-mower, there are rake attachments available that can be used for de-thatching. This is particularly useful when de-thatching very large lawns and will massively speed up the process.

After removing all of the thatch from your lawn, you may want to over-seed the lawn if it is thin in places and want to help the lawn recover quickly.

Aerating

After successfully removing all of the thatch on your lawn, it may be beneficial to follow up and aerate it to help oxygen & water penetrate deep into the soil – where your grass roots will be able to reach. This will also help any new grass seeds you want to sow as well as helping prevent further thatch build-up in the future. Aerating is part of effective lawn management and should be done 1-2 times per year to help the roots deep under the soil.

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