How Dethatching your Yard Can Give you Beautiful, Green Grass

Let’s be honest.  Most of us have dreamed about having the perfect yard at one time or another – thick, green, and beautiful.  On the other hand, if your yard is looking bare, thin, and brown, you are certainly not alone.  Last week, we talked about the four simple steps you can take to get you well on your way to achieving the yard of your dreams.

  1. Dethatching
  2. Vacuuming
  3. Aerating
  4. Overseeding

In this article, we’ll talk about what dethatching is, the importance of dethatching your yard, and how to properly dethatch your yard.

What is Thatch?

Thatch is an organic layer of dead grass, roots, and stems that builds up between the soil surface and the zone of green vegetation.  Thatch builds up in your yard when your turf produces debris faster than it can break it down.  Over time, thatch buildup can prevent water, oxygen, and essential nutrients from reaching your soil.

Dethatching your yard is essentially combing your yard with a rake, in order to remove unhealthy thatch.  For smaller yards, this can be done with just a rake.  However, for bigger areas, a dethatcher can save you a great deal of time and energy.  Popular types of dethatchers include walk-behind dethatchers  and pull-behind dethatchers (to pull behind a riding mower.)

Why should I dethatch my yard?

While it’s true that a thin layer of thatch is healthy for a lawn, when thatch buildup exceeds half an inch, it can begin to act as a sponge, soaking in water and essential nutrients, preventing them from reaching the soil.  Too much thatch can stifle growth, choke your lawn, and turn your grass an unhealthy shade of brown.

Thatch also blocks sunlight from lower grass blades and keeps water from going down into the root system; holding moisture in the grass blades, which can cause bacteria and disease to grow.

How do I dethatch my yard?

First, in order to decide if your yard needs dethatched, you need to dig up a small section of your turf.  Using a spade, cut a small plug of turf (about 3” deep) and inspect the layer of thatch – (the layer right on top of the soil.)  If the thatch layer exceeds ¾ of an inch, it’s probably time to dethatch.

Start by mowing your yard about half the height you normally would – (but no less than an inch.)  Once you have a fresh cut yard, then it’s time to dethatch.  Using a rake (for smaller yards) or a dethatcher, go over your yard, pulling out the thatch layer.  Dethatching will essentially create a layer of dead grass on top of your lawn.  Because of this, it is important to remove it with a rake or lawn vacuum.

Many times, dethatching can create bare spots in your yard.  Because of this, it is usually a good idea to overseed after dethatching – especially in problem areas.

The best time to dethatch varies, depending on climate region and grass type.  For cool-season grasses, the best time is late summer or early fall.  On the other hand, for warm-season grasses, dethatching in late spring to early summer will yield the best results.  These times are when your grass is growing most rapidly.

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