Why Dethatching and Aerating Your Lawn is a Good IdeaIt's natural to think that in order to dethatch there must be thatch somewhere. Thatch is simply the built up layer of dead grass clippings that accumulates in your lawn just above the soil. Thatch is actually good for your lawn because it helps provide a barrier to prevent disease and other harmful things that might kill the grass. Thatch also allows the soil to retain moisture by not letting water evaporate too quickly.
Dethatching is something that is normally done in the Spring and often coincides with the aeration process. Just like lawn aeration, dethatching is done in to allow nutrients, air, and water to have better access to the root system. Areas of the country consisting of tall fescue and perennial ryegrass do not have to worry as much about a heavy thatch layer build up, but unfortunately Reno consists of mainly Kentucky blue grass, which does tend to have a quicker build up of thatch growth. A small layer of around 1/2" thatch growth can actually be beneficial for your lawn because it can help protect the turf from the hot summer sun, help prevent weed germination, as well as reduce water evaporation. Although there are some great benefits to dethatching, it is important to make sure that if you hire someone to "power rake" the lawn it is not done right after the lawn has been watered. Unlike lawn aeration, which normally gets better core penetration just after a good soak, dethatching a wet lawn can leave you with damaged and ripped up sections of turf. Another important factor after power raking is to make sure that the loose thatch is properly raked up instead of left on the grass or mowed over. Some companies attempt to just mow over the loose thatch, but this will mulch up the dead stems and roots and put them right back into the lawn. The other day, we took a minute to shoot a quick video to show you just how much thatch is pulled up after dethatching a single 30 foot strip. From a distance this lawn does not look like it has a thick thatch layer, but once the power rake gets rolling you can see just how much dead stuff has been removed. Check out the video to get an better idea of what dethatching is and whether or not your turf might need it done. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3eLWyVjoDI[/youtube]
If anyone that has not heard of de-thatching or your lawn guy just tells you to get it done yearly, there are some basic ways you can check to see if your lawn needs to be de-thatched before you go spending a lot of money to have it done. Although de-thatching a lawn can be done by a hand de-thatching rake, I would never recommended doing this unless you want to have an aching back after wasting a day. The most prominent way lawn care services de-thatch is by using a motorized de-thatcher also called a power rake. Obviously the ultimate goal for de-thatching is to provide you with a more healthy, lush, and green lawn. So how do I know if my lawn needs De-Thatching?
The most effective way to see if your lawn has excessive thatch is to take a shovel and cut out a small 6"x6" square of turf and examine if the area between the root system and the blades of grass. If this area has over a 1/2" of brown matted build up of thatch as shown in the picture, than it is time to de-thatch your lawn. A small amount of thatch is actually good for the lawn which help retain water and protect your grass from the harsh summer sun. If the build up is too much than it will prevent water, oxygen, and nutrients from getting to the roots. The best time to have de-thatching done for our cool climate is during mid to late spring when the lawn is actively growing and can quickly recover from the stress of de-thatching. More tips can be found once you determine if your lawn needs to be de-thatched.
If you are debating between having your lawn aerated or de-thatched this season, take the quick five minutes to do this test and see if you have an above average thatch layer. Both aerating and de-thatching can be done at the same time and most lawn care companies in Reno like ours, offer more affordable packages if you choose to do both. I have found a good de-thatching video if you want a better idea of how it works.
I had some people ask me about what the benefits of dethatching you lawn are. I found a great WEBSITE that will help with some tips of how to prevent thatch, what it does, and when you should have it done. If you are interested in this service for your lawn in Reno, I would be more that willing to assist.