There are a lot of different problems that can be caused by thatch. Thatch can choke out water, and basically everything else in your lawn. You make it much harder for the healthy part of your lawn to grow. The little bit of thatch in your lawn is no big deal, but once you have a lot of thatch, your grass will turn yellow and you’ll want to get rid of the thatch as soon as you can.
What is thatch? It is a buildup of unwanted debris in your lawn. It can be in the form of moss and pine needles, but it is often in the form of rhizomes and stolons. As these grow in your lawn, they are mostly yellow. They can grow very quickly, and over time, they can create a dead layer of grassy material that sits on the surface of your soil. Most of the time, you get problems with thatch if you have a lot of superficial root growth. The grass doesn’t really have anywhere to grow except along the top of the soil. The result is that your lawn will turn yellow whenever you mow it. And you’ll start to feel a spongy layer of thatch on the top of your lawn.
Once you have a buildup of thatch, you want to get rid of it as soon as you can. The best way to do this is by using a dethatching rake or else by renting a power dethatcher. For lawns that are more than 1,500 ft.², we normally recommend renting a dethatching machine. Having your own dethatching rake is a good idea, in case you find some spots that need to be redone, or you want to be able to get a little bit closer to the edges. Typically, you’ll want to run your power dethatcher over your lawn at least twice before you rake everything up. Once you get rid of all of the excessive thatch in your lawn, you should start to see your lawn recovering and getting better. If you take the time to fertilize or seed your lawn, you can see a full recovery in 4 to 6 weeks. On top of that, when your new grass grows in, your lawn will look even better.
Whether or not you need to dethatch your lawn will depend a lot on the type of grass that you have. It also depends on how much sunlight variation you get throughout the year, and it will depend on the amount of fertilizer that you put down on your lawn. Sometimes putting down excessive amounts of fertilizer can cause thatch to grow. Sometimes not having enough fertilizer will cause thatch to grow as well. Aerating your lawn on a regular yearly basis is another good way to help prevent thatch from forming.