As the lawn starts to dry out and harden up a little bit, it is time to think about de-thatching the lawn. A lawn is a living thing and needs to be able to breathe, as well as have access to valuable nutrients, water and sunlight. A thatch layer is built up over time from stems and roots and other debris that has yet to decompose. It can be dangerous to the development of you lawn and needs to be removed. Here are some methods to try;
There are several ways to thatch a lawn, starting with a rake. This is exhausting and after all that hard work, you probably didn’t remove much. There are simple tine rakes that can be attached to the front of a walk behind mower (common for most landscape companies) or towed behind a tractor. These attachments need to be put on properly and adjusted to make sure they are sitting just right. Follow the instructions and install it properly for the best results. Put some weight on the top of it as well, this will give it just a little bit extra depth. Use your judgement. The final and most aggressive way is to use a thatching machine. This is a beefy push mower with flail blades that really dig in and remove a lot.
A good idea would be to buy an attachment for your tractor and thatch the lawn when it is actively growing, spring and fall. We recommend thatching in the spring and aerate in the fall, but thatching both seasons is fine too. Use the attachment at least once a year, and every few years either hire a company or rent a machine and get a lot of it out.
I have never used one, but there are also thatching blades that can be installed right on your mower. Use at your discretion, they seem like they could do some damage.
The lawn should be short when the thatching is done, so cut it first, lower than normal without scalping the lawn. If using the tine attachment you’ll be cutting the lawn as you thatch, so this can be done the same step. Run your tractor over the lawn in at least two different directions, a criss-cross pattern. After going over the lawn twice, you’ll have to remove the attachment and go over the lawn a third time with the bagger and clean up all the clippings. Or grab a leaf blower and blow them into the woods.
If using a thatching machine, than you probably only have to go in one direction. The flail blades do a great job and extra passes may cause some damage. Leave the clippings lying on the ground and pick them up later. If the machine has a bag, don’t use it. It will fill up every 10 feet. Dig up all the thatch, and then clean up the clippings as two different steps. Mow the lawn before to shorten the grass, and after the process to clean up the last of the clippings.
We can help with any work you need, but the best option for a homeowner is to buy the tine rake for your mower, even if it’s used. Craigslist is loaded with them, just find the right one. It may cost a couple hundred dollars, but it will last you forever if properly maintained.
The thatching needs to be done prior to the crabgrass control, so schedule accordingly. The pre-emergence essentially creates a barrier over the top of the thatch layer that stops the growth of the crabgrass. The thatching will destroy this barrier and the treatment will have to be re-applied with the second application.
Hopefully some of this helps, thanks for reading and feel free to contact us with any questions