It’s likely that your lawn needs some work to restore its health after a busy summer of gatherings, parties, and the kids running around.
September marks the beginning of fall, which is a good time to carry out repair work on your lawn before winter sets in and the grass stops growing.
One type of effective lawn repair work you can do is dethatching.
What Is Dethatching?
Dethatching is the removal of dead moss, old grass stems and other types of decaying organic matter that prevent water, fertilizer and air from penetrating the soil.
Decaying organic matter (i.e. “thatch”) hinders the growth of healthy grass, so it’s important to remove it.
If there is a considerable amount of moss build up on your lawn, it’s a good idea to use moss killer first before dethatching. In a fortnight or so, the moss should die off and you can then dethatch. It’s also recommended to use a low-nitrogen autumn feed alongside the moss killer to support the grass. Aim for an organic, non-chemical solution to preserve the health of your soil and people who use the lawn.
Manual Vs Purpose-Built Dethatchers
Dethatching can be carried out manually by hand using a suitable rake, or by using a purpose-built dethatcher.
Purpose-built dethatchers usually come in the form of either a tow behind attachment (hitched to a tractor/riding mower), or a powered dethatcher that looks and works like a push lawn mower.
Dethatchers have spring tines (“tines” are the teeth of a rake or dethatcher) that are strong enough to gently lift thatch off of the lawn surface.
A dethatcher effectively combs your lawn clear of thatch.
The type of dethatcher to use depends on the size of your lawn.
If your lawn is small, then a rake suitable for dethatching should do the job well. But be warned: as with any type of raking, dethatching is hard work!
For larger lawns it is definitely recommended to use a powered dethatcher.
Or, if you have a tractor/riding mower, you can go with a tow behind dethatcher.
Powered dethatchers work well on small lawns, while tow behind detachers are better for larger lawns.
Before you start dethatching, make sure you’ve mowed your lawn down to a low grass height. The best time to dethatch your lawn is when there is some natural moisture on the grass.
Don’t Be Too Rough
Be careful not to dethatch too harshly as this could damage the turf. It’s very common that after dethatching a lawn looks worn and patchy.
Some areas in particular will look bare and you may even need to re-turf them.
However, reseeding is a better option than re-turfing because existing grass tends to have a strong, deep system of roots which can benefit the seedlings.
Brand new grass, however, is prone to being killed off under heavy use.
If you choose to reseed (as is recommended), simply spread the seeds over the affected areas and then rake the soil so that the seedlings bed under the surface.
Once the thatch has cleared, it’s a good idea to water the grass and add some fertilizer to nurture it.