Why Power Raking?
A thatch layer is a mix of dead and living material (tough runners, rhizomes, and roots) that accumulates between the soil and growing blades of the grass. This layer of vegetation acts as an insulator keeping soil temperatures low and helps to retain moisture. However, when thatch build up exceeds 1/2” it prevents water and nutrients from reaching the soil decreasing the turf’s ability to thrive and fight disease and dehydration.
When thatch is removed, air, water nutrients, herbicides and pesticides can do their job. The turf becomes healthier and more resistant to insect damage and disease.
How is it done?
Dethatching is done most affectively with a power rake. It combs the turf with flail blades that lift up and effectively remove the thatch that is matted just above the soil.
When to remove thatch?
Once the snow is gone and the lawn surface is starting to dry, you can safely rake the lawn lightly with a hand leaf rake. Power raking should not be attempted until the lawn is dry. Power raking is recommended every other year but many choose to do it annually for cosmetic reasons.
What about grass clippings?
Grass blades are tender plant parts that decompose in 2-3 weeks and contain about 4% nitrogen, 1% phosphorus, and 2% potassium. Thatch decomposes much more slowly. Most people believe that leaving grass clippings on the lawn when you mow contributes to thatch build up. It does not.
What causes thatch to grow?
Thatch usually occurs on turf that has been heavily fertilized and watered. It is most common on poorly drained, compacted soils.