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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Thatch

Thatch is the layer of living and dead stems, roots, and crowns that forms a type of blanket over the soil of your lawn. A small amount of thatch (one-half inch or less) is acceptable and even good for the lawn. But when thatch accumulates to over one-half inch, it can become one of a lawn's most serious enemies.

Keeps out the good and protects the bad

Like an old-time thatched roof, the thatch on your lawn creates a barrier which prevents the free movement of water, air, fertilizer, and insect controls into the soil. Since thatch is an ideal breeding ground for many diseases and turf-destroying insects, a heavy thatch layer can quickly become a serious problem.

Grass clippings not to blame

Contrary to popular belief, grass clippings are not the prime cause of thatch build-up. Clippings are almost all water. Once dried, clippings add very little bulk to the thatch layer. Thatch is mainly made up of the heavier crowns, stems and roots. Clippings of moderate length can be left on the lawn without fear of quickly increasing the thatch layer.

Reduces lawn care effectiveness

Heavy thatch prevents fertilizer and water from reaching the grass roots. This can result in a lawn that is thin, off-color, and prone to disease, insect, and drought problems.

You have two choices.

You can ignore the thatch, and hope it will decay before it does any harm. However, a thatch problem will almost always get worse with time, not better.

The second alternative, the option we most often recommend, is core aeration because it offers the least amount of disturbance to the healthy plants.

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