Thatch is a layer of tightly knit plant material located above the soil and below the base of the grass plant. Soil is generally not present within the thatch layer and therefore holds very few nutrients. Most lawns require a thatch layer of between ½ to ¾ of an inch. This layer offers protection to the grass roots from the heat of the day. It also aids in reducing soil compaction in high traffic areas. When thatch becomes thicker than 1 inch, problems start to occur in the lawn. The thatch layer acts much like a sponge, absorbing water quickly and depriving the root system of moisture.

Problems Due to Excess Thatch

When the thatch layer becomes thicker than 1 inch, grass will try to utilize this area for its root system. Because thatch holds very few nutrients, the root system suffers. As the thickness increases, watering becomes increasingly difficult. Thatch acts like a sponge, absorbing most of the water being applied to the lawn, either from the sprinkler or rainfall. Ultimately, this leaves little for the root system of the grass to use. Thatch over 1 inch is also a great place for insects to nest in the lawn.

Eliminating a Thatch Problem

Deep Core Aeration is the best way to prevent thatch buildup. The aerator pulls 3-inch plugs from the ground. These holes allow water and air to reach deeper into your soil structure. If your thatch layer is over 1 inch in depth, another remedy is to top dress your lawn. By top dressing your lawn in the spring and fall with high quality topsoil, microorganisms in the soil should be able to break down approx ¼ inch of thatch per year. Thatch 3-4 inches in depth should be replaced by removing the layer of grass and thatch and either re-sodding or re-seeding.

For more information, call the professionals at Ace of Blades at 818-LAWN (818-5296),
or e-mail us at paul@aceofblades.ca.