Thatch Can Cause Problems to Your Lawn
Ask the Doctor –
Your Source For Lawn Care Tips
John Buechner - January 16, 2014

Thatch is a layer of both living and dead materials of decomposed stems, roots, and other plant parts. It is located in the layer that wedges between your grass and soil.   A thin layer of thatch one-half inch or less acts as insulation to protect roots from cold and hot temperatures.  However too much thatch creates problems for the lawn.

If thatch layer exceeds more than ½ to ¾ inch, this can be a general problem in producing lush, green grass. Thick thatch layers block air, water, nutrients, and fertilizer from reaching the roots.  As a result, the plants are weakened and are more susceptible to disease.  A thick layer of thatch is also a perfect place for damaging insects and diseased organisms to live.

Prevent Thatch Problems

There are several ways you can control the thatch in your lawn:

  • Core aeration: aerating your lawn to remove small plugs of soil can allow air, water, and fertilizer to move through the thatch layer which leaves room for root growth and development
  • Maintain a balanced pH: this encourages the microbes that break down thatch and restore balance for turf growth
  • Mow and water regularly: Remove no more than one-third of the leaf length at one time. Water thoroughly to the soil depth of 6 to 8 inches. This will require one to two inches of water per week.

Problems Arise

If the thatch layer has accumulated to a level beyond the natural layer, consider dethatching your lawn. Dethatching is a special task! There are proper machines such as power rakes, vertical cutters, and detatchers. Some of that machinery can be rented through local garden centers or home improvement locations.

Some key factors to consider before dethatching:

  • Do not remove the entire thatch layer
  • Do not dethatch in wet weather conditions
  • Dethatch during late summer season into fall
  • Consider balanced pH level when dethatching

If continue problems arise from your thatch area, please contact your local Lawn Doctor for assistance. Professional lawn care companies can help identify any signs of thatch issues before potential lawn diseases occur.