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thatch

Q: I was told my yard needed to be de-thatched. This procedure will be costly, how do I know if I need it done?

A: I get this question quite often and I am glad to have an opportunity to address it. The best information regarding thatch in Florida lawns comes from a University of Florida publication by Dr. Laurie Trenholm, Dr. J.B. Unruh, and Dr. John L. Cisar titled, “Thatch and Its Control in Florida Lawns”. I have pieced together portions of the article which should answer some important questions about thatch. “

Thatch is defined as an intermingled layer of dead and living shoots, stems, and roots that develop between the zone of green vegetation and the soil surface. Thatch consists of a loosely interwoven collection of plant matter that leaves the turf feeling spongy or puffy. Thatch removal should be considered necessary when thatch thickness exceeds one inch. Frequency of that removal will vary, depending on intensity of management.

For grasses north of Orlando, the best time for thatch removal is April through July. Vertical mowing at these times ensures quick recovery since warm-season grasses grow rapidly during these periods. After de-thatching, cleanup is necessary. Thatch removed from an average sized lawn may fill several pickup trucks. While the above practice is common on highly managed turf, it is not always needed in home lawns. Homeowners are sometimes convinced that buying this service will improve the condition of their lawns, and may spend unnecessary money on unneeded practices.

Thatch is seldom a problem in younger lawns, but can sometimes become a problem in older lawns, particularly ones that have been over-fertilized and over-irrigated.” To look at the entire article please check out the following website: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/LH029