Your lawn accesses plenty of water, you mow often, and it’s regularly fertilized– so why is it sickly? Well, thatch might be the culprit. Thatch is a densely packed layer of plant material that can interfere with your grass’s ability to absorb water, nutrients, and oxygen. Managing thatch is a simple lawn care task that so many Massachusetts homeowners forget, but it’s essential to the health and vitality of your lawn. So read on to learn about thatch and thatch control for a lush, green lawn in New England.

What is thatch?

Thatch is a layer of dark organic matter built up over time in the soil. Fallen leaves, old roots, and decaying stems comprise the tight-knit soil layer. It’s a natural, visible buildup at the level of your grass’s roots. When properly managed, it benefits your lawn by retaining moisture and preserving a stable soil temperature. However, after a few years of neglect, it can become out of control and grow to an unsustainable thickness, requiring manual maintenance.

Signs you have too much thatch.

A little thatch has a multitude of benefits for your yard, but there are some sure signs that it’s time to thin the thatch material:

  • Yellowing or browning of the grass: Yellowing is a common symptom of nutrient deficiencies in lawns. Even if you’re fertilizing schedule is like clockwork, the thatch layer might be preventing the nutrients from absorbing into the deeper soil layers.
  • Reduced water absorption: Have you noticed your lawn becomes brittle and dry even with regular watering? The compact thatch can later prevent your grass roots from adequately absorbing the water, leaving your grass dehydrated and limp.
  • Difficulty in mowing: If your mower wheels are sinking and you’re accidentally scalping your lawn, it could be the cause of thatch. Too much thatch can make a lawn feel spongy underneath your feet and make mowing more frustrating.

How to measure thatch thickness.

In Massachusetts, we recommend maintaining a thatch layer of 1/2 inch. If your lawn is more than typically 1/2 to 3/4 inches, it’s likely hurting your lawn. Measuring thatch is a simple, two-step process any homeowner can accomplish at home. First, slice a two-inch deep chunk of soil from your lawn. Then, use a measuring tape or ruler to measure the dark soil layer just under your grass’s crown or where the roots shoot out from the grass’s body.

The impact of thatch on your Massachusetts lawn.

Some thatch is entirely normal and even beneficial to keep in your yard! But a dense thatch layer can prevent your lawn from reaching peak well-being. It’ll first impair your turf’s nutrient uptake, preventing roots from accessing essential elements like nitrogen and phosphorous. In turn, your lawn will suffer from inferior root development and dull coloring. Thatch growth also invites several unwanted critters into your susceptible yard. A weak, nutrient-deficient lawn is a breeding ground for pests, weeds, and diseases that thrive in damp, uncombative environments.

How to remove thatch from your New England lawn.

Managing thatch is easier than it sounds— you might only need a few hours each year to remove or prevent thatch buildup! There are several DIY and professional methods to protect your lawn from thatch troubles. First things first: It’s critical to eliminate thatch that’s already impacted your lawn through dethatching. You can manually break up the thatch layer with a power rake or opt for a vertical mower to grapple thicker buildups. We also recommend core aerating, which is punching out soil cores from your lawn. If you’re wondering, “What’s the point of punching holes in my lawn?” we understand entirely. While it sounds unproductive, core aerating loosens the soil, making space for water, nutrients, and airflow.

Thatch removal can be done at home, but we also recommend contacting a Massachusetts lawn care company for assistance. Lawn care experts can be an invaluable resource when facing lawn worries, especially thatch buildup. They understand the seasonal impacts on thatch and can tackle the root of the problem with effective, long-term solutions. Don’t hesitate to call a lawn pro to ask questions regarding thatch maintenance, as they’ll be happy to answer.

Thatch Troubles In MA, CT, or RI? MissionGreen Lawn Care has got you covered.

If your lawn is suffocating from thatch buildup, let it breathe with expert thatch removal. What’s going on with your lawn can’t always be seen, so if you think thatch is disrupting your lawn’s health, it’s time to manage the mess. Reach out to us to get a quote for thatch removal by our lawn care specialists in New England today.