How Much Lawn Thatch is Too Much?

grass How Much Lawn Thatch is Too Much?

Thatch is not a bad thing.  Too much thatch is too much of a good thing!

Thatch can be comprised of decomposing lawn clippings and leaves, and old dead growth at the crown of the plants. Thatch in amounts less than a half inch is healthy in a lawn, and can act as an insulating mulch in warm weather, and a feeding ground for microrganisms and worms.  It’s once the thatch becomes deeper than that when the previous list of positive outcomes will work against you.

In deeply thatched lawns grass will die back, and the layers actually inhibit rain and irrigation water from reaching the soil line.  Organisms, diseases, and pests can flourish into unhealthy numbers and damage your entire lawn unless the area is de-thatched with either a thaching rake, or though core aeration.

Over-thatching most often occurs in lawns that are over-treated with chemical fertilizers, mowed irregularly, and those that are older and more established. Some thicker types of grass are also prone to thatching, like Zoysia grass and Kentucky Bluegrass. Some signs of a deeply thatched lawn are lawns that give you a springy or cushioned step when you walk on them, an increase in diseases taking over large areas, and dieback.

To amend a thatching issue take a cavex rake to the lawn in the spring to remove the excess, or core aerate the lawn to promote air and water circulation.

Photo Courtesy of: Zevotron

The Value Of Core Aeration

img 0399 225x300 The Value Of Core AerationIf you can only afford to do one thing to your yard this year, core aeration is what you should do! Core aeration is the hands-down best thing for the long term health of any lawn, regardless of the organic make-up of your soil, or variety of grass you have planted.

Core aeration benefits all soil types, and mature or juvenile lawns, here’s how:

The best soil in the world needs three things to provide for plant’s needs, those things are water, air, and organic matter. Soil without these three things can’t provide a healthy balance of organisms, and nutrition in the soil to encourage a healthy lawn. Whether your lawn is new or old, it can always benefit from aeration either alone, or in tandem with a re-seeding program, to ensure a healthy balance of the three things a lawn needs most!

  1. For rocky, or nutrient lacking soil, core aeration breaks up the soil, loosening hard-pan dirt, and allowing oxygen, and moisture into the root area. Core aeration then becomes a tool that can better prepare your soil for “top dressing”, seed, or fertilizer.
  2. In compacted soil, aeration provides your grass with a better chance of survival, giving roots looser areas to grow in, thereby encouraging deeper root growth. Aerating compacted soil also reduces the water run-off.
  3. For new lawns, core aeration gives you a great head start in preparing your yard for seed, fulfilling the three basic need of a yard, and providing holes deeper in the ground for young shoots to begin life. Often core aeration can often give your yard a jump start after “clean slate overseeding” (beginning a new yard from scratch), producing quick “plugs” of grass across your yard that will fill in the lawn faster than simple overseeding alone.
  4. For older lawns, aeration can loosen, and prevent excessive thatching of the lawn as well as allowing deeper penetration of water, minerals, and air. With a thick, lush lawn, aeration can be used as a quick refresher, balancing out the three basic needs of the grass, and preventing the overcrowding in a lawn that can open your yard up to pests and disease.

The bottom line with core aeration is that it is a quick and “green” way to make a real difference in the overall health of your lawn no matter your circumstances, and a healthy lawn requires fewer pesticides, fertilizers, and time to maintain! Check your budget this year, and consider whether you can impliment core aeration as part of your lawn care program.

For more great tips on lawn core aeration and how best to aerate your lawn, read Home Construction Improvement’s article on what you need to know to aerate your lawn yourself.