Learn / Ask The Landscape Professional
What is thatch and how much is good for a lawn?
I have been getting a lot of questions on
lawn thatch lately, so here's the story.
Thatch is not dead grass clippings that normally
fall to the surface when you mow the lawn. Grass
clippings actually decompose and are very
beneficial, so much so that you should not bag
them or remove them. Thatch is a tightly woven
mix of living and dead stems, leaves and roots
that accumulate just above the soil and around
the base of grass plants. Thick layers of thatch,
greater than 1 inch, are trouble, because air,
fertilizer and water is restricted getting to the
roots of the grass plants and turf diseases can thrive.
In thinner layers, thatch is actually a good thing because it moderates the temperature
of the soil and provides a cushion over the soil surface. The ideal situation
is to have thatch build up at the same rate it decomposes and the key to that lies
in having a healthy soil, with lots of microbial activity. Beneficial microorganisms
like soil with a pH of about 6.5, adequate moisture and good aeration. Soils where
microorganism don't thrive (acidic and compacted soil) is where you see thatch
build-up. This is the basic approach of our Organic Lawn Care Program – improve
the microbial activity in the soil. With chemically treated lawns, not only are the
microbes and earthworms killed with the chemical fertilizers and pesticides, but
many times they are over-fertilized causing the thatch to build up with no microbial
activity to decompose it. You also have to be careful if you have an irrigation system
not to over-water you lawn – that also increases thatch buildup.
Sprigs & Twigs offers a number of lawn care options depending on your special
needs: 1) aeration for compacted lawns, 2) Soil testing and analysis of results, 3)
dethatching for heavily thatched lawns and 4) a full season Organic Lawn Care
Program. See our web site for more details and give us a call.
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About Linda Lillie
Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier
landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry
service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of
Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national
award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.