What is thatch and how do I remove it?

Thatch Old grass blades die during the season through natural causes and new blades of grass regenerate in their place. The dying and decaying material lays on the soil surface. During an unusually wet period, or over feeding of your lawn, the amount of dying grass blades increases naturally . . . and the build-up of thatch commences.

It is a misconception that thatch is purely a result of leaving grass cuttings on top of a lawn. The facts are that leaving grass cuttings on your lawn, on the right occasions, actually benefit your lawn! If the organic material is left on the soil for a prolonged period and dries out it becomes fibrous and acts like a dam preventing water and air getting to the base of the grass plants easily. Whilst the material in itself is beneficial for your lawn, the build-up of it will eventually lead to weakening the grass plant and becoming more susceptible to diseases.

Why is thatch bad for my lawn?
Thatch retains water, creating a spongy layer on top of your soil. This layer not only reduces the amount of water and nutrients reaching the important areas of the grass plants, but also air or more importantly the oxygen that grasses use to survive.

How do I remove thatch?
- There are four acknowledged methods available to remove thatch from a lawn;

- Using a Spring Rake
- Scarifying using a mechanical device
- Aeration creating slits in the soil to aid water drainage
- Hollo Tining to remove plugs of soil from the lawn area (usually replaced with top dressing) which is mainly used for compacted lawns but also aids thatch removal.


There is a biological method that could also be considered. Microbes released into the base layer of your lawn feed on the thatch and fibre that rapidly degrades thatch. Often used in conjunction with scarification it can be an effective method to minimise thatch in lawns.

A chemical lawn feed should not be used for a minimum of four weeks after application if using this biological method.

How often should I Dethatch my lawn?
You can scarify a lawn as often as is needed, but usually once a year is sufficient for the high majority of lawns, in either Autumn or Spring. Much depends on what other treatments to your lawn (if any) you intend to take place, or have already occurred. If scarifying, however, budget for a feed once completed, as a boost to your grass plants following the invasive treatment it will have just received.

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