Thatch is naturally occurring and is essential for a healthy lawn, however too much can have the opposite effect. Scarifying (or de-thatching) your lawn is therefore an important part of any lawn maintenance program and should be done regularly for a healthy green lawn.
What is thatch?
Thatch is the build-up of dead and living grass that has intertwined and formed a layer between the grass and the soil. A thin layer of thatch is essential for a healthy lawn and protects the grass and soil from harsh weather and disease, and is naturally occurring.
Thatch only becomes a problem when it becomes much thicker. A thick layer of thatch encourages new grass to grow up into the layer of thatch, and prevents sun, rain water and nutrients reaching the soil and the grass roots. Thick thatch layers also create a habitat suitable for pests and garden diseases to live, which may end up damaging your lawn.
When to scarify your lawn
There is no exact time when you should scarify or de-thatch your lawn, however suitable gardening conditions are needed. You will need plenty of sun to allow the grass to grow strongly after de-thatching. It is essential that the grass is able to grow quickly after scarification. Avoid scarifying your lawn in periods of drought or extremely dry conditions as this isn’t conducive to strong grass growth. Similarly avoid scarifying the lawn in cold conditions.
It is normally best to scarify your lawn twice a year. Once at the beginning of the mowing season around March and April time, and again at the end around September before the winter cold sets in. This will ensure that adequate levels of thatch are left for the entire year.
In order for you to scarify /de-thatch your lawn successfully, you need the grass to be relatively short. Longer grass will require significantly more effort to dethatch and will take you longer to complete. It is recommended that you mow the lawn a couple of weeks before you plan to scarify the grass. Not only will this ensure the grass is a suitable length to dethatch, but it will minimise the stress on the grass.
Garden tools required
Collecting thatch from your lawn can be done with a simple hand held lawn rake. It will require a good amount of effort and energy but is achievable. You should always wear a pair of good quality gardening gloves to prevent your hands from blistering, and protect them from anything sharp that may have been in the lawn when you pick up the garden waste.
The alternative solution is an electric garden rake or scarifier like the Flymo Lawnrake Compact 3400. These are relatively inexpensive and take all the hard work out of looking after your lawn. Electric lawn rakes will also collect the thatch and any moss as it goes, allowing you to dispose of the waste quickly and easily.
Once you have removed the thatch and moss from your lawn it is important that you encourage the grass to grow. Where there have been areas of moss in your lawn, add a good quality moss killer to the grass to prevent it from returning. Add a good lawn fertiliser to the rest of your lawn to encourage the grass to grow and water for the next few days or as required. This will help the grass grow thicker and more quickly.