Some of the browning and stress in lawns this summer is due to a build up of thatch, a mix of dead and living roots, shoots and stems that accumulates between the soil and the grass blades.
A problem occurs when the thatch builds up faster than it is broken down by soil organisms. Air and water can’t get through the thatch layer to the soil. It is said that you have a thatch problem when you can’t stick your finger through it to get to the soil. I’ve seen a number of examples where people are watering, but the soil beneath the thatch is bone dry. Moist thatch is a great place for weed seed germination and fungal diseases.
Bluegrass, especially sod, and creeping red fescues have the most thatch because they spread through above ground roots. Acidic soils reduce microbial activity and slow down the decomposition of thatch. Too much water soluble nitrogen makes roots grow too fast.
We use core aerators, slice seeders and power rakes to remove thatch. Organic fertilizers, compost and compost tea stimulate biological activity to break it down. Soil tests tell us the pH of the soil and we add limestone to put the soil in the proper range.
Visit our organic lawn care services page to learn more or contact us today for your free lawn care consultation.