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Water Conservation Tips from Rain Bird

Improve Your Lawn's Water Efficiency by Getting the Thatch Out

This week's tip explains how excess thatch build up in your lawn can reduce water efficiency and how to get rid of excess thatch.

With summertime just around the corner, it might be a good idea to break out the rake and remove excess thatch from your lawn to make sure the grass is absorbing water efficiently.

What is thatch, you ask?   

Thatch is a layer of organic debris and dead grass that can build up over time between the soil surface and the green blades of your lawn.  Thatch can be caused by overfertilizing, overwatering, or the overuse of fungicides and insecticides. A small amount of thatch is helpful, but too much thatch can act as a barrier that prevents vital water, air and nutrients from reaching the roots. 

It is important to remove excess thatch to ensure that your lawn stays vibrant and that your sprinkler system is delivering water efficiently to the lawn where it needs it.

To determine if your lawn has too much thatch, cut out a small, triangular-shaped plug of turf several inches deep. Examine the spongy layer of material above the soil. If it is more than 3/4 to 1 inch thick, you should consider dethatching your lawn.

The best time to remove the thatch from your lawn is in early spring, preferably on a cool, dry day.

For smaller yards, you can use a sharp-tined thatch rake to manually remove the thatch out of your lawn. For larger turf areas, you might consider renting a power dethatcher (also called a vertical mower) from your local equipment rental center or home improvement warehouse. Whether you do it manually or with power equipment, both methods use sharp vertical blades to cut through the thatch layer and bring some of the dead material to the surface where it can be raked up and removed.

After you've removed the thatch and raked up all the grass and debris, apply some additional grass seed, a light covering of topsoil and a modest amount of fertilizer, then give your lawn a good watering.  Within a few weeks, your lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood just in time for summer, and one of the most water-efficient as well.