Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Guest Post: Lawn Thatch and Organic Remedies

Lawn Thatch and Organic Remedies - by Claudia Fugate, Gardening Naturally With Claudia
                                                                            
About the Author:
Claudia Fugate
Master Nursery and Landscape Professional
Garden Writer and Speaker: See my blog site for more About Gardening Naturally
                                               
Phillip was kind enough to ask me to guest post today.  Thanks, Phillip.

Many times we notice that the lawn is just not that bright green we expected.  Sometimes the watering does not perk up the lawn.  Bare spots do not fill in.  The fertilizer did nothing to make the turf thicker, greener.  The problem many experience is lawn thatch

Thatch is the both living and dead material that lies between the green blades and the soil. The depth of 1/2inch is considered excessive.  And that excess can inhibit water to reach the roots.  Thatch can keep nutrients from your fertilizer application to reach the roots, and the stress of the turf from the reduced water and nutrients can allow pests and diseases to set in. 















Ironically, a lawn that has been overly-maintained can be susceptible to thatch.  Too much water and too much nitrogen from fertilizers can cause the grass to grow rapidly.  Then mowing puts down clippings that microbes in the ground cannot decompose quickly enough. The result is thatch.

Several lawn care practices can reduce the likelihood of thatch.  Water deeply and infrequently.  Most turf needs about 1” of water a week.  And mow often enough to never remove more than 1/3 of the blade of grass.  Removing more that 1/3 of the blade at any one time causes too much moisture to be lost and the turf gets stressed.  Mowing the lawn should never be scalping the lawn.  The roots will dive deep into the soil when the grass is longer.  More top growth, more roots, and more roots mean more moisture and drought tolerance, and more nutrients can be taken into the lawn.






























Compaction of soil removes oxygen and water.  No air and no water, no plant will survive.  By adding organic matter to the grass, the micro organisms and worms and other soil dwellers will draw down into the ground the beneficial organic material.  This is as simple as raking about ¼ - ½ inch of compost into the lawn.











If the lawn is severely stressed, a spray of dry molasses will add carbohydrates to the soil and the microbes will move more nutrients to the root zone. The micro-organisms will break down the thatch layer in the process. Horticultural Molasses is available in the marketplace. With a formula of 2-3 tablespoons per gallon of water, most sprayers can be used.  

Finally, core-aeration may be needed if the yard is very dry and compacted.  Drench the lawn with plenty of water prior to this process.  Moist soil is much easier to manage when pulling these plugs.















Leave these pellets on the lawn.  As they break down, they will be another source of organic material.  I recommend following this core-aeration with a layer of compost raked into the yard.  The holes that were opened will allow air, water, and the organic matter of the compost to get down into the soil.  Nutrients, air, and water -  just what this yard needs. 

Thanks so much to Claudia Fugate for the terrific post! For more interesting content on organic gardening, landscaping, and a variety of other topics, be sure to check out her blog Gardening Naturally With Claudia.

1 comment:

  1. The micro-organisms will break down the thatch layer in the process. Horticultural Molasses is available in the marketplace. With a formula of 2-3 tablespoons per gallon of water, most sprayers can be used.
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