Autumn is the best time to dethatch the lawn and should be carried out as part of your regular lawn care maintenance. Thatch is a layer of dead plant material which occurs naturally in turf and isn’t usually a cause for concern, however a build up can occur and will require attention. Find out how to dethatch your lawn with tips from Paynes Turf.
How to spot thatch
The presence of thatch in your lawn leaves it lovely and spongy, much like a nice soft carpet, which is great in your living room, but not so desirable in the lawn. A thin layer of thatch naturally occurs in every lawn and actually improves the performance of the turf. However, too much thatch can damage your turf by impeding water and fertiliser penetration. So how do you know if your lawn has a build up of thatch? If you cut out a small piece of turf from your lawn and examine it from the side, you will see that if there is a build up of thatch, a thick layer of brown plant material will be present above the soil line.
Why does thatch build up?
One of the most common reasons that thatch builds up is improper fertilisation. As grass grows and new roots, stems, and grass leaves are formed, so the old ones die off. If the grass grows too quickly (especially after using a lawn fertiliser incorrectly), the new grass grows much faster than the old grass can die off, which results in a build up of thatch. This is why it’s really important to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packet when feeding your lawn.
How to remove thatch
Use a spring tined rake to remove thatch. Rake vigorously pulling the rake towards you in short, sharp movements, but at the same time rake carefully as you could damage the turf further if you rake too deeply. Ideally you just need to scratch the surface of the turf with the rake to remove the waste thatch material. Autumn is the best time to do this, as the lawn will have many months to recover before the spring. Dethatching in spring isn’t normally recommended because your lawn may not have time to recover before the heat of summer arrives. Instead, opt for a light rake, but only if you really have to.