||Breaking Down The Dethatching Myth
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I can usually tell when lawn fertilization services are trying to "boost their sales" at this time of the year based on questions I get on the air and in emails. Apparently, the "new opportunity" that these lawn services are trying to push now is a DETHATCHING program.
In the Houston area, Thatch and Dethatching is such a misnomer. It's a misnomer because Thatch Build Up can easily be prevented and/or mitigated with a consistent aeration at least once a year. There are a few dethatching treatments, if you will, that can also work, if you truly have a "Thatch" build up. But that is where the biggest lie occurs with some of these services, especially if they tell you 1. They are the only people in the world with a product to help break down thatch. 2. That it requires some "machine" to dethatch.
Let's start with the basics:
Is Thatch Bad for a Lawn?
Yes. Too much thatch is not good. If left untreated, thatch can develop into a nearly impenetrable disease-harboring mat between grass and the soil. Thatch sounds scarier than it is, for it can be removed quickly and easily using a hand rake. I call it a leaf rake, but don't ever use a steel-tine rake for dethatching purposes. Natural enzyme-based products are sold for the do-it-yourselfer, if you need to remove Thatch build up. Once the initial thatch layer is removed, future problems can be avoided by following proper fertilizing, watering and aeration techniques.
What is Dethatching?
Dethatching involves the removal of the matted layer of dead and decaying plant material between growing grass and the soil.
1. If your lawn is off-color and thinning, and you can't see bare ground between the plants but instead see matted, fibrous material, it's time to dethatch.
2. If your lawn is thick, rich and deep green, and you can't see bare ground between the plants but instead see matted, fibrous material, it's time to dethatch.
As stated before, thatch is not caused by leaving grass clippings on the lawn. Instead, thatch is an indication that dead plant stems and roots are not being broken down as quickly as new growth is taking place.
1. Don't ever get sold on a "mechanical" Dethatching service on St. Augustine yards. This can tear it up so bad; it can actually kill what's still there.
2. Avoid High Nitrogen Fertilizers for your lawn fertilization schedule.
What Does Thatch Look Like?
This is actually the best bet of advice. Once you understand what it looks like and how to diagnose it, you will save yourself a lot of heartache and needless up-charges from lawn fertilization companies.
Until next issue, here's to
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