8 Questions Answered About Controlling Thatch in Lawns in September

September 28, 2020

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controlling thatch in lawns
It’s September – the ideal month to provide your lawn with some pre-winter care! In September, the weather is warmer than the cool days of fall, the seeding weeds are much less, and there’s usually a decent amount of rainfall, making the time apt for fall lawn care activities. Proper lawn care during this month ensures that your lawn not just survives but thrives through the winter. One of your top priorities in September should be controlling thatch in lawns.

In this post, we’ll answer some questions about how to control thatch in your lawn so that your lawn stays lush and healthy through fall and winter.

What is thatch?

Thatch is a layer of dead and living tissue, that’s tightly interwoven, existing between the grass leaves and soil surface. Thatch is mainly made of products from leaf, stems, crowns, sheaths, and roots resisting decay.

A minor layer of thatch improves a lawn’s wear tolerance. However, too much of thatch shelters insects and disease organisms, increasing the lawn’s susceptibility to damage from drought and disease.

Dethatching lawn

What are the factors that influence thatch?

For managing thatch in lawns, it’s important to know the factors that affect thatch build-up. Here are the factors that determine the thatch development rate in your lawn:

  • Choosing grass varieties that grow vigorously
  • Applying large nitrogen amounts, especially in spring
  • Growing grass species that generate tough, fibrous tissue in enormous amounts
  • Compacted soil condition resulting in shallow root development

The following factors lower the rate of thatch decomposition:

  • Acidic soil conditions
  • Waterlogged soil and poor soil aeration that limit the activity of microorganisms
  • Pesticides like fungicides or insecticides that hinder earthworm or microorganism activity

Which lawn grass types tend to generate thatch?

Different grasses have varied tendencies to generate thatch. Perennial ryegrass and tall fescue have a low tendency to produce thatch. The grasses that heavily build thatch are Kentucky bluegrass and bermudagrass cultivars, mostly because of their vigorous rate of growth. Grasses growing slowly, like zoysiagrass, generate thatch because their fibrous tissues break down quite slowly and get accumulated easily on the soil.

How to prevent thatch in lawn?

Here are some effective ways for preventing thatch in lawns:

  • Apply the right amount of water and fertilizer to your lawn. Avoid applying excess nitrogen and make sure you don’t exceed the recommended amount of fertilizer for your specific grass type. Too much fertilizer and water lead to excessive grass growth.
  • Mow your lawn often and mow at a proper height. A thatch issue can’t be prevented by using only a mulching mower.

lawn mowing

  • Know the soil pH recommendation for your grass type and keep your soil’s pH at that level. Too much soil acidity can hinder the activity of insects, earthworms, and microbes which break down thatch.

How to find if your lawn has excessive thatch?

For controlling thatch in lawns, it’s important to know whether your lawn has excessive thatch. A shallow layer of thatch with a thickness of ½ inch benefits your lawn – it helps in retaining moisture and stabilizing the soil temperature. To examine the thatch layer depth, cut out a 2-inch deep, pie-shaped wedge from your lawn. Measure the thatch amount between the green vegetation and soil surface. If the layer of thatch exceeds a thickness of ½ inch, you need to dethatch the lawn.

When to dethatch the lawn?

If you have a cool-season lawn, early fall or late summer is the ideal time for removing thatch. For warm-season grasses, lawns should be dethatched in the spring, after green-up, or during the early summer, when the grass grows rapidly. Don’t dethatch during dry and hot periods.

Can you dethatch your lawn on your own?

For small areas, you can dethatch them with the help of a dethatching rake. For large areas, however, you need the know-how and a power-driven dethatching machine. Our lawn care professionals at Waterloo and Quad Cities have the expertise and equipment to dethatch lawns in the best way possible and provide your lawn with the right fall lawn care. You can do it yourself if you are proficient at dethatching large areas. However, remember that improper dethatching can damage a lawn.

How to dethatch a lawn?

Lawn Dethatching

Here’s a guide on how to remove thatch from lawn:

  • Choose a vertical mower having revolving, straight fixed blades, with the depth and spacing being adjustable. For zoysiagrass, bermudagrass, red fescue, and Kentucky bluegrass, the blades should be spaced 1 to 2 inches apart. For centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass, the blades should be set 2 to 3 inches apart. Ensure that the blades cut into the layer of thatch as well as at least ½ inch into soil.
  • Mow St. Augustinegrass and centipedegrass vertically in one direction only as multiple passes can kill or injure the lawn. Kentucky bluegrass and zoysiagrass may be mowed vertically in different directions.
  • Once dethatching is complete, rake up and remove the dead material.
  • Water your lawn thoroughly so that the exposed roots don’t dry out.
  • After a week, apply 1-pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of the lawn. Use quick-release nitrogen with the water-soluble nitrogen being less than 50 percent. This should be followed by the irrigation of the lawn to minimize burn.

Wrap Up

Now that you know how to treat thatch in lawns, inspect your lawn for excessive thatch build-up and if you find any, schedule your lawn dethatching immediately. All American Turf Beauty, a reputed lawncare company, is an expert at controlling thatch in lawns and providing lawns with the necessary pre-winter care. We offer lawn care services in Waterloo, Quad Cities, and many other areas in Iowa. With the right fall lawn care, you can prepare your lawn to thrive through the harsh winter days.

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Our services are guaranteed!

If you are not completely satisfied with an All American Turf Beauty application to your lawn, we will re-apply the application at no additional cost and continue the regular lawn treatment program. Alternately, we will fully refund your cost for the application and cancel any further obligation on your part.

To qualify for the guarantee, you must call All American Turf Beauty within 30 days of application.

Our goal at All American Turf Beauty, Inc. is a simple one:

To provide you with the highest quality products and methods available.

We offer every kind of service that it takes to develop and maintain a beautiful lawn in Iowa based on the climate, soil types, and the varieties of grass that are commonly grown here.

One of the keys to the success of the program is that we provide treatment to lawns approximately every 8 weeks throughout the growing season. This ensures that the grass has fertilizer (food) available throughout the growing season. Dandelions and other Broadleaf weeds are controlled as they germinate thus enabling a weed free lawn, and our Turf Specialist is at the property four to six times per season to address problems as and when they arise.

Another key to our service is our people. The most important person to you in our company is the Turf Specialist assigned to treat your lawn.

We are proud to say that our Turf Specialists are the best trained and most experienced in the lawn care industry.

When you become a customer at All American Turf Beauty, a Turf Specialist is assigned to your account. You will have the same person treating your lawn each time. It is their responsibility to service your lawn, make sure it is receiving the correct applications as scheduled, and to provide you with the best personalized service possible. Their jobs depend on it.

We have several programs to choose from. Your Turf Specialist will recommend the best program that fits the needs of your lawn and your budget.


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