Do You Need To Dethatch Your Lawn?

There is a common misconception that thatch is always a bad thing, when in fact a layer of thatch is crucial to lawn and soil health. 


Thatch is the undergrowth layer of stems, roots, stolons and rhizomes between your beautiful, green lawn and the soil surface. One inch of thatch between your soil and very bottom of grass blades is pretty normal. Any more than that can cause issues.

Thatch helps your lawn by retaining moisture and protecting grassroots from drastic temperature change. However, excessive thatch can decrease oxygen and choke out new grass growth.


SUNDAY STANDARD: 1/2 -1 inch of thatch between your soil and very bottom of grass is pretty normal. Any more can cause issues.


Step #1 Determine it’s definitely a problem. Take a close look. Here are three tell-tale signs you might have excessive thatch:

>>> You have more than an inch of thatch
>>> Thatch is more tan in color than green
>>> Thatch is tightly woven together.

Step #2 Mow at your normal height. If you regularly mulch-mow, bag the clippings this time.

Step #3 Rake away some of that thatch. You can use a special dethatching rake, but we prefer a good old fashioned garden rake. Use the tines of the rack to pull thatch upward and away. Don’t be too aggressive. Remember, ½ inch of thatch is a good thing.


BONUS POINTS: Compost the thatch.


1) Over-fertilization with nitrogen-based fertilizers can cause extreme thatch growth. 2) Unhealthy soil may be missing key microbes that naturally break down thatch. (Want to know if your soil is healthy or needs nutrients? Every Sunday lawn care plan comes with a complementary soil lab test). 3) Overuse of pesticides can kill off earthworms that naturally burrow through thatch, moving it from the surface deeper into the soil where it can decompose.


Get out ahead of it. Here are 4 tips to prevent excessive thatch in your lawn.

>>>Don’t over fertilize. (SUNDAY LAWN PLANS include multiple smaller feedings over the course of the season so your lawn gets only what it needs right when it needs it).
>>>Add soil amendments at least annually to increase organic matter which, in turn, will benefit soil microbes that break down thatch.
>>>Keep your mower blade sharp. Sharper blades will grind up cut grass better, allowing it to decompose faster and feed beneficial microbes.
>>>Choose the right grass for location and sun, but also consider grasses that have lower potential with thatch issues like tall fescue and ryegrass.