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Is Thatch Good or Bad News for My Lawn?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thatch is good. Thatch is bad. Leave it on. Mulch it. Take it off. Ugh! With so much conflicting advice, it can be really confusing what approach you should take with these grass cuttings and dead grass leaves in your yard. So which one should it be?

Is Thatch Good or Bad News for My Lawn?

Both. I know, you hate that answer, but bear with me for a minute and I'll tell you when it's good, when it's bad and how to encourage it or discourage it in your lawn.

The Good


Thatch has at least three good qualities. It provides nutrients back to the soil as it decomposes, lowering fertilizer use and runoff, it provides a natural mulch to keep weeds down and lower soil water evaporation, resulting in less irrigation water and pesticide use, and it provides a home for soil microbials, creating healthier soil.

A healthy layer of thatch is about 3/8"-1/2" thick is what you want to aim for. If you need to increase your lawn's thatch, try watering it more often and be sure to leave lawn trimmings on the yard when you mow.

The Bad


When your lawn's thatch gets thicker than 1/2", water starts having problems getting through to the soil. The water will run off to a point where it can sink into the soil, leaving both overly dry and overly wet areas on your lawn, creating an uneven appearance and growth. After a heavy rain or irrigation session, you'll be able to see where thatch, as dead grass, floats down to where the water can sink into the soil, leaving "ridges" of thatch behind.

This is the point you need to act. If the thatch is left intact, it allows pests and bugs to build up, chokes out your grass plants and otherwise starts giving your lawn a less than attractive appearance.

The Ugly


If your lawn continues past the bad stage, it's going to get ugly. Thin crowns and vegetative spreading structures means your grass is thinning out, anaerobic conditions are building under the thatch, and you're going to start having a hard time fixing the problem without renovating the yard. Don't let your yard get this far!

If you need more advice or would like a free estimate, please feel free to contact us through our website. Our focus on service guarantees your lawn will receive the individual attention it needs.


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