The thatch misconseption
The biggest misconseption about thatch is how it got there. Thatch problems are due to a combination of biological, cultural, and environmental factors. Despite popular belief, short clippings dropped on the lawn after mowing are not the cause of thatch buildup. Clippings are very high in water content and breakdown rapidly when returned to lawns after mowing, assuming lawns are mowed on a regular basis (not removing more than one-third of the leaf blade).
Thatch is a layer of living and dead organic matter that occurs between the green matter and the soil surface. A thin layer of thatch in lawns (½ inch or less) provides insulation against temperature extremes and fluctuations in soil moisture. Some thatch on sports turf (about ½ inch) provides much needed resiliency, softens players’ impact on the surface, and improves footing. This is considered to be a healthy layer.
In most parts of La Plata County, we rarely see too much thatch. However, certain area's in the Animas Valley (but not limited to) we have removed core aeration plugs with over 1" of thatch.
The solution: dethatching
Lupine uses several methods to control thatch. First, examine the cultural controls. This would include watering schedules and fertilizer applications. Due to the structure of our soil, Lupine recommends core aeration twice a year. This process will typically keep any thatch layers in control at less than 1/2". If thatch layers are not controlled with core aeration, we use a process called Tine Dethatching. The image to the left is a mower with a specifically designed dethatching attachment. This mower dethatches the lawn and collects that grass in a hopper for removal. In extreme cases, a vertical mower or power rake may need to be used.