Lawn Problems: thatch

lawn thatch

What is thatch?

Thatch is a layer that usually sits between the soil surface and green shoots of your lawn. It can also build up below the soil and is know as sub-surface thatch. Essentially thatch is a build up of organic matter that has not decomposed. It’s can be a mix of old grass leaves, stems, stolons, rhizomes and roots or anything organic based that’s fallen on the lawn (grass clippings, leaves, etc). 

For some grass types, new growth can push up the older stems/shallow roots nearer to the surface and create a matted layer. That will act as a sponge over the lawn limiting air, water and nutrients reaching the soil where the grass plant roots can absorb them. When its wet weather the thatch layer hold onto water allowing moss to easily grow on top, making the lawn less healthy too. 

A thin layer of thatch is ok and wont impact your lawn. Typically anything deeper than 2cm can lead to problems you need to address. 

Why is thatch bad for my lawn?

The short version: it reduces all the good things getting to the soil, including air, water and nutrients. 

If you feed the lawn with a granular product, thatch can stop it reaching the soil where is should be able to get to work. Same goes for water. In late Spring to early Autumn we can get spells of warm/hot and dry weather. However, the British weather is unpredictable and we will get some rain, which the thatch layer can soak up before it can help the grass roots in the soil. Thatch can heat up more that the soil causing the water to evaporate, leaving the poor soil to wonder whats happened with the rain or your watering. 

When you mow a thatchy lawn, the  wheels can sink down in the spongy thatch, causing you to cut the grass too short, leaving it with a scalped or brown appearance. You want to be able to run the mower over the lawn and control how much you cut off the grass, thatch will work against you there. 

How can I get rid of thatch in my lawn?

We recommend you deal with the causes of as well as the symptom (thatch being present) to get the best from your lawn. However, nothing beats a decent scarify with a a scarifier machine to get rid of the physical thatch. Once that’s done there are many related considerations that will determine how to reduce thatch forming in the future. 

Common reasons for thatch appearing in your lawn. 

When thatch becomes too deep it really impacts the lawns health and appearance. This example photo shows a lawn that really needs the turf stripping off and starting again. 

deep lawn thatch

Some grass types produce long chains of lateral growth, which fold flat over the lawn, making it hard to mow correctly. Scarifying vertically cuts the grass, thinning it out to improve the lawn

lawn thatch

Lawn Tiger can advise on the causes of thatch appearing in your lawn and offers services to effectively remove thatch and restore your lawn to great condition. 

Please get in touch or get a free online quote today.

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