Thatch is a layer in which dead grass stems and roots are placed between the soil and the grass that is growing. Thatch is very important to make sure the lawn can be and stay healthy, but it should not exceed 1/2” in depth, because it will create problems. This is why Trugreen often starts by inspecting their customers’ thatch levels before determining the best lawn care regimen.
What Thatch Should – And Shouldn’t – Be Like According to Trugreen
Good thatch compacts the soil and protects the root system of grass from heavy traffic. However, if thatch becomes too thick, it will stop nitrogen and oxygen from getting to the soil, providing nourishment to the root system. If lawn is to be healthy, it needs to have good soil. Thatch is somewhat of a sponge, which means that it can take all the nutrients away from the soil, which spells disaster. Furthermore, if there is a drought in the Chicago area, which is where Trugreen operates, no water will get to the soil and this could make the problems caused by the drought even worse.
Causes of Thatch
There are different things that can lead to thatch. Certain types of grass, including red fescue, bluegrass, zoysia, St. Augustine grass, and Bermuda grass, are particularly prone to it. Extreme measures may have to be taken. Furthermore, excessive compaction can cause too much too much thatch, essentially forcing the roots to grow on top of the original thatch and creating more of it.
Then, there is not mowing enough. A lot of lawn mowers mulch, leaving clippings in place. This is good, because they fertilize the lawn. However, if someone doesn’t mow enough, then the clippings become clumps. Clumps, meanwhile, kill the grass, turning it into thatch. Too much or too little of anything, including water and fertilizer, can also create thatch.
How to Prevent it
Lots of things can be done to stop excessive thatch, including:
Proper water and fertilization, following the recommendations on the fertilizer and watering one inch per week (or less if it has rained).
Making sure pH levels of the soil are 5.5 or higher, otherwise they are too acidic.
Mowing regularly so clippings are clippings and fertilize the grass and soil. Never cut below 1/3 of the length of the grass. Of course, you doo have to make sure the mowing length is appropriate to your type of grass, with zoysia, centipedegrass, and Bermuda grass preferring much shorter cuts.
Last but not least, if there is a lot of thatch there, the recommendation is to call in the professionals like Trugreen. They have all the necessary tools available to aerate the lawn and give it a fresh start. They may also try power raking, which has been demonstrated to be quite beneficial if done properly. Either way, help is out there and you don’t have to worry that you will have to start your lawn all over again.