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Thatch Build Up

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 29 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Thatch Build Up De-thatching Your Lawn

Thatch can best be described as a build up of dead grass that lies beneath the grass plant and your soil. Without proper treatment throughout the summer months, it can be the instigator of disease and can leave your grass looking, not only patchy and mottled, but also give the impression of being spongy under foot in damper conditions. Thatch can also lead to diseases such as Red Thread and Dollar Spot.

What is Red Thread?

From the Latin Laestisaria fuciformis, Red Thread is a fungal disease that attacks grass and has the appearance of irregular patches of reddish hued grass. With a closer inspection you should see that the infected leaves have a small reddish spike protruding on their tips. The roots of the infected leaves are not normally affected by this disease so recovering is a fairly simply procedure but the infection normally rears its head in later summer months where there are periods of high humidity and where soil is compacted due to general wear and tear rendering it short of nitrogen.

What is Dollar Spot?

Dollar spot manifests itself as silvery-grey spots appearing on your lawn in sizes varying from one to six inches in diameter. Sometimes these spots can intermingle, causing larger areas of grass to appear damaged. Dollar spot is generally caused by a lack of moisture in the soil and/or a lack of nitrogen.

Thatch build up, as already discussed, is a build up of dead grass that lies beneath the grass plant and your soil and can be attributed to the onslaught of Red Thread and Dollar Spot. It is also one of the most common food sources for blackbirds and attracts them as well as slugs and worms. Blackbirds pulling thatch from your lawn can not only cause disease to spread but it is often unsightly and can spoil the look of even the most pristine looking lawn.

Other ways to cause Thatch

  • Incorrect use of fertilisers
  • Over watering
  • Poor soil conditions
  • Infrequent aeration
  • Infrequent scarification

Dealing with Thatch

Thatch can be dealt with by raking the grass gently and pulling the carpet of dead grass to the surface so that it can be brushed or raked anyway. Generally if you can rake the dead grass into piles, pick it up and bag it for disposal this goes a long way to reducing the risk of disease in your lawn. A spring-tined rake is the best for this purpose and looks like a sea-shell with the prongs bent downward to aid in the grabbing of loose materials in the lawn.

Rotary mowers, which have a blade mounted horizontally and are powered by a motor, are also useful in that they normally have a grass collecting facility to the rear of the mower which collects up the loose or dead grass and stores it for easier disposal rather than spreading it over the lawn.

Once you have de-thatched your lawn this might be a good time to reseed and water as the roots are exposed.

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