Lawn thatch is the build up of excessive unwanted material in your lawn which can choke out air, water, and sunlight. Excessive build up of thatch in your lawn can cause grass to stop growing and even become more prone to insects and lawn diseases. Thatch is made from dead grass build up with living grass, roots and stems sitting between your soil and the blades grass growing. The main cause of thatch build-up occurs as a result of organic debris producing quicker than it can be broken down.
The best time to de-thatch your lawn with a thatching rake is in the spring and in the early fall. Lawn thatching allows your lawn to recover before it gets too hot or too cold. Most lawns will not look too bad after they get de-thatched. Because lawn thatchers take a lot of moss or bad grasses out of your lawn, they are re-seeded to heal properly. (If there is a lot of moss you may also need to add iron to get rid of the remaining moss before seeding.) Lawns with 'dead thatch ' are very tricky to deal with if insect damage is extensive. (See 'dead thatch.') Lawn thatching can be done using a lawn thatcher, or a thatch rake.
Power-raking or dethatching a lawn can remove harmful yard build-up. This can allow water, air and sunlight to reach the surface of the soil. Lawns can grow better once lawn thatch is removed. This is done with a machine or by using a thatch rake or a dethatching lawn rake.
In order to keep your lawn healthy and looking its best is necessary to lawn thatching. To find out whether your lawn needs thatching, see if it has some of the problems listed below:
You have a lot of moss in your lawn. Moss is living thatch. It causes problems for your lawn because it is ugly and because it can out grow cool season grasses in cooler climates. Often these thatch problem are fairly easy to fix. The best way to fix a thatch problem caused by moss is to thatch it out with a thatching machine and then finish off the residue with an iron moss killer. A thatching machine works great because the moss has almost no roots. It may also be a good idea to wait 2-3 weeks after applying a moss killer before you thatch. After you thatch, then you want to over seed your lawn.
Having a thick healthy lawn going into the winter will make it less likely to have a severe moss infestation in the futures.
Another sign you have a problem with thatch is if you have dead grasses building up in your lawn. This relates directly to two factors. The type of grass you have in your lawn, and varying amount of sunlight available to your lawn throughout the year. The way to treat this is to thatch the lawn and then re seed it with better grasses. Unfortunately, this may only be a short-term fix and you may end up needing to tear out the lawn and replace it anyway.
Another sign you have a thatch problem is if you have pine needles building up around the edge of your lawn. Pine needles choke out water and sunlight and they are very acidic. You may need to use lime when over seeding these areas to counteract the effects of the acidic pin needle. In addition areas with pine needle often have related problem, such as a lack of water and roots to fight will. Eventually you may decide to let the fir-tree win and just make your lawn smaller.
If it is a small lawn, you could do it by hand. De-thatching a 1000 sq ft front yard could easily take 2-3 hours. It is real backbreaking work. Most people prefer do de-thatching or thatch lawn by renting a thatching machine or a power rake. These cost between $30 and $65 for a 4 hour rental.
If you are doing it by yourself, you should plan on 3-4 hours. Bigger lawns will take longer. Before thatching make sure to mow your lawn about 1/3 shorter than usual. If you normal cut your grass at 1.5", cut it down to 1". It is best to thatch when the grass is dry. Wet lawn can very quickly turn into a mess.