What is Dethatching?

Dethatching is the mechanical or physical removal of thatch, usually made of leaves, grass, stems, lateral weed growth and grassroots. It is carried out with the help of any electric or gasoline power dethatching machine. You can also physically carry out this process with your hand using a dethatching rake. 

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It can benefit your lawn if your lawn has a thatch layer of ¼ inches. It helps in retaining moisture and helps in maintaining a consistent soil temperature. Thatch with more than ¼ inches in size is not good for the lawn’s health. It becomes too thick, which prevents the free flow of air, water and nutrients to the roots. This hampers the growth of roots allowing the grass to become dry.

Why do you need Dethatching? 

A thick thatch is a problem on a lawn. It prevents the roots from breathing and keeps the roots away from securing water, nutrients and air. It makes them dry and even cause it’s unnatural death. Also, thatch can bring in other issues like harboring lawn diseases and insects. The grass can help grow the thatch layer rather than the soil producing shallow root systems and allowing you to gain greater temperature extremes. 

You only have one solution when you fail to prevent the thatches – dethatching. Some homeowners may not require the dethatching process as the grass type does not invite the thatching problem. 

However, a few kinds of grass remain too vulnerable to thatch build-up. These include both the cool-season and warm-season grasses. The most common type of grass that demands a dethatching process is Bermudagrass. 

Depending on the grass type, you must plan the dethatching process on your lawn. A vulnerable lawn would demand a dethatching process once a year, while for others, you can consider once in four to five years. 

How to dethatch your lawn? 

Hiring a professional is always a good idea if the thatch layer is beyond 2 inches thick. They have the expertise, experience and tools to dethatch your lawns. Also, you should know that removing excessive thatch is a time-consuming process. 

It requires more than one removal session to complete. Clearing them in one go can prove fatal to your lawn as it can damage the grass. However, if you want to carry it out in your style with time, you can consider it a DIY venture. 

The dethatching process can be done in the following three ways: 

  • Manual Dethatching rakes are short, heavy-tined rakes having curved blades. These are designed to dig over your lawn and thus pull away thatch as you rake. These rakes suit general and light thatch maintenance, particularly in small lawn areas. 
  • Power rakes are similar to mower devices having rake line tines, which dig thatch a lot over the soil level and pull them away. Power rakes work well for lawns having thinner thatch layers and grass, which can bear intense raking. 
  • Vertical mowers are also known as verticutters, and these have vertical blades that slice down over the thatch layer and soil with the help of pulling thatch and the other grassroots. These prove an excellent tool for thick thatch layers seen on lawns meant for renovation. You can adjust the blades to regulate the amount of thatch you want to remove at once. 

Most of the garden and lawn stores opt for manual dethatching rakes. The dethatching equipment stores have vertical mowers and power rakes on rent. You can get them to use for your dethatching season.

How is Dethatching different from aeration?

Most homeowners fail to understand the difference between dethatching and aeration. They use the terms interchangeably; however, these two differ in many ways. Aeration can prevent issues like thatches, but you can still witness it in the lawn depending upon the type of grass on your lawn. 

If you are looking for solutions against thatches, dethatching is only an effective solution. Also, carrying out the aeration process would need a few mechanical devices. Also, aeration has a different purpose, which differs from dethatching. 

Moreover, the severity of the condition will define which solution you need. You need dethatching for mild cases, and with its outcome, you can determine how effective this process has proved to your lawn.  

However, if you fail to see the grass picking up, you can understand the intensity of the case. At this point, it becomes vital for your lawn to opt for an aeration process. However, if the soil in the yard is poorly compacted, you have another big reason to aerate. 

Why does thatch develop?

We know a thin thatch layer is good for the health of your lawn. However, it can add several problems to your lawns when it becomes thick. Usually, the organic content decomposes at the same pace it is built up. It brings the yard to maintain a perfect balance and even prevents the thick layer. However, some conditions may affect the balance. 

One of the encouraging factors of thatch growth is the condition and health of the soil in your yard. Microbes in the soil can play an essential role in breaking the thick layer of thatch.

However, when you find the soil dead or sterile, you may not find enough microbes to break the organic matter layer, which piles up the thatch. The low pH value of the soil is also a problem. 

The next cause of thatch is the cultural practices, which can contribute to thatch growth. Excessive fertilization seeking nitrogen-rich fertilizer can cause fast grass growth. The higher grass growth compared to the microbes can break the thatch layer in a big way. 

The poorly laid soil can bring the issue of thatch buildup. If the sod is added to compacted soil, the roots can face a tough time penetrating the soil, giving a similar outcome.

How often should you dethatch your lawn?

You do not need dethatching every year. Also, doing it too often can cause damage to your grass. Generally, it is recommended to carry out this process every 3-4 years. However, the grasses more prone to thatches demand dethatching once a year. You have to monitor the lawn, and if the size of the thatch layer exceeds 1 or 2 inches, you should plan the dethatching process.

When is the best time for dethatching? 

You should dethatch the lawn only when you find the size of the thatch growing beyond the limits. However, when to carry out this task is important. Generally, the best time to accomplish this job is during the cool-season (late August to early October). 

This will also depend upon the location of its weather conditions. Meanwhile,  you can keep a check on a few weeds growing along with the grass. Adding a light fertilizer at a regular interval will boost the lawn’s recovery. 

To conclude, Dethatching is the mechanical or physical removal of thatch, usually made of leaves, grass, stems, lateral weed growth and grassroots. It is a simple exercise if you are dealing with small size yards. However, you need professional lawn care service providers if you have big lawns. Seeking the help of a competent lawn care service like Eden can meet all your dethatching requirements. 

From selecting the right seasonal plants to installing an outdoor kitchen, our landscaping services can do it all for you. Contact us today for a stunning landscape!

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