What Are They and How Do They Promote a Healthy Lawn?
Before we dig into what aeration and power raking can do for your lawn we need to first define what they try and tackle – thatch.
Thatch is comprised of leaves, stems and roots (some living and some dead) which form as a natural part of turf’s growing process. It lies on top of the soil, a tightly woven layer beneath the visible grass blades.
When is it good?
A little thatch in you lawn is actually be beneficial for the health of your yard providing a mulch that shades the surface to reduce high summer soil temperature and evaporation, supplying food source and habitat for beneficial microbes and organic matter that earthworms incorporate into the soil.
When is it bad?
A problem arises when thatch develops into a thicker layer and forms a wedge between grass and soil. A too-thick thatch layer diminishes lawn health by:
+ Forming a blockade like layer that prevents water, fertilizer, and insects or disease control from reaching the soil.
+ Blocking sunlight from reaching lower grass blades.
+ Holding moisture against grass blades, which foster disease.
+ Creating an uneven lawn, which leads to uneven mowing or scalping.
How Can I Tell If I Need De-thatching?
+ Feel the lawn. A lawn that’s spongy or bouncy underfoot often has a thick thatch layer.
+ Visually inspect the lawn. To determine how thick the thatch is look at the lawn closely. Is soil visible? If it isn’t, your likely looking at a thatch layer.
+ Can you shove your finger through the visible thatch layer – or is it impenetrable? A thatch layer that’s tough to wedge a finger through needs to be thinned.
+ Measure the thatch. Another way to examine thatch is to excavate a lawn sample. Use a trowel or spade to remove a wedge-shaped layer of grass and soil about 3 inches thick, or just pry up a small section of turf. Look for the thatch layer lying directly on top of soil. Measure the thickness. A layer thicker than three-quarters of an inch signals it’s time to dethatch.
Aeration or Power Raking? Both.
Although you could go with either aeration or power raking, we recommend both to combat your thatch. Both will help eliminate thatch and help grow healthy grass!
Aeration involves removing plugs from the lawn to relieve compacted soils, this will allow air, water and nutrients to reach the grass roots, and in turn promote deeply rooted grass and strong lush turf.
Power Raking involves a machine about the size of a push mower that uses mechanical flails to dig the thatch out of your lawn.
Want to learn more about thatch? This Iowa State Turfgrass Management Article provides more in-depth information!