Your lawn has a lot of enemies to its beauty and health, including disease, insects, and weeds. These enemies often reside in the part of your lawn called the thatch, which is a safe haven for them. Thatch is a layer between the grass and soil comprised of decomposing grass, debris, roots and stems. Having some thatch is healthy. However, when it becomes overgrown, that’s when you will start seeing signs of the undesirable lawn enemies that have taken up residence.
Lawn core aeration can effectively treat thatch accumulation and also promotes a healthy lawn by providing soil and roots access to fertilizer, water and air.
Weeds like clover, thistle, plantain, and dandelions might start inside the thatch and then infiltrate your lawn. Weeds make your grass slippery, attract insects, and steal space as well as nutrients from the grass.
Grass-eating insects like sod web worms and billbugs can kill off patches of grass and leave barren areas behind them. The overgrown thatch provides these harmful insects with a protected and safe place .
Lawn diseases like red thread, necrotic ring spot, brown patch, and snow mold can kill grass as well and cause turf to thin. These problems can be traced back to where the thatch has become too thick.
How does thatch get overgrown in your lawn in the first place? A strong web of lateral shoot growth and roots develops in healthy lawns. This creates thatch, which is an intertwined layer of materials.
Thatch does provide some benefits. However, the problems that excessive thatch creates outweigh all of the benefits.
The best way of reducing a thatch problem is to perform lawn core aeration by removing grass plants, shoots, roots, and plugs of soil. The cores are left on the lawn’s surface, leaving a hole for fertilizer, water and air, and allowing seeds to germinate if needed.
How Your Lawn Benefits From Core Aeration
So how can thatch be maintained at a level so that is supports healthy grass? Lawn core aeration is the best method for preventing over growth of lawn thatch and keeping it to a manageable level.
With lawn core aeration, a core of grass, soil and thatch is extracted. This core is slightly bigger than an apple core is. A special machine removes these cores on a grid spaced out every couple of inches. The cores then get deposited onto the lawn to let the nutrients and soil wash out. The holes that are left behind allow fertilizer, air, and water to move into the soil, thatch, and root area in order to support healthy growth. Also, it creates a great environment for seeds to germinate if you happen to over seed the lawn. This operation is a lot healthier for your lawn compared to classic dethatching.
You should aerate your lawn once a year at least. If you have a severe thatch problem, you will need to have several lawn core aerations done every year. As long as your lawn isn’t soggy, you can do aeration during any season of the year.
Maintaining Healthy Lawn Thatch
You might be wondering if there are any advantages to thatch. Yes, a thin layer does have some benefits to it. The main goal that we strive to accomplish with our lawn core aeration service is maintaining your lawn with a thatch layer of 1/2 inch or less. Thatch has many benefits when it takes place in manicured, healthy lawns, including:
Grass is more tolerant
Due to cushioning, soil is susceptible to compaction
Cushioning increases safety for athletes who play on the grass
Multiple lawn core aerations may be required for remediating a severe layer of thatch
Reduction of erosion
Creation of mulch prevents the soil surface from drying out rapidly
It is a common misconception that thatch comes from lawn clippings. Actually, these clippings are 95% nutrients and water. After the water has left the clippings, it decomposes and nutrients are returned to your lawn.
How About Other Kinds Of Lawn Dethatching?
Maybe you’ve heard power raking or other dethatching techniques are better than core aeration for your lawn. Core aeration, in our experience, is the most reliable way to achieve desired results since it allows fertilizer, air and water to penetrate the layer of thatch to get into the root zones. In addition, it provides space for germinating seeds when your lawn is over seeded.
We recommend that you do lawn core aeration once a year at least. As long as your lawn isn’t soggy, you can perform it any time of the year. Some people wonder if it isn’t better to do power raking or dethatching. It clears out all of the old thatch and brown hay from the lawn, and you feel good getting out during the spring to do it. The answer is No! Don’t do that!
A machine is used for dethatching to tear and cut out grass plants and thatch from the turf. A dethatcher cuts into the turf deeply. They are quite hard on turf and are normally only available for professionals to use since they are so expensive. Usually the only time these machines are used is during the process of renovation when the lawn gets renewed with a large quantity of seed. This frequently happens after something has killed the grass. Surprising to many, not much thatch is removed by a dethatcher. The only really effective method of removing and correcting a thatch problem is core aeration.
A similar machine is used for power raking, but it isn’t as high powered. The power rake shaft has knives on it that spin freely. These knives get rid of the grass blades that mowing leaves behind that were either damaged over the course of the winter or haven’t fully decomposed yet. Although power raking doesn’t cause as much harm as dethatching does, it still disrupts the lawn. Power raking or hand raking can be done. However, it doesn’t do very much except get rid of winter-killed grass that breaks down eventually anyway. This process will not correct your thatch problem or remove the thatch. The only way of removing thatch that won’t harm the delicate dependent systems of your lawn is core aeration.