How to dethatch a lawn

A thin layer of thatch is actually good for a lawn as it protects the grass plants and soil from the adverse effects of the wind and sun. However, a build up of thatch will hold nutrients, air and water away from the roots, which will eventually damage the grass. Find out how to dethatch a lawn with advice from Essex turf grower, Paynes Turf.

How to dethatch a lawn

Is it time to dethatch your lawn?

What is thatch?

Thatch is a layer of tightly wound dead organic matter, such as leaves, roots and stems. As the grass in the lawn grows, new roots, stems and leaves are produced, and the old roots die. Thatch occurs when the new grass is growing faster than the old grass leaves and roots can die off. This leaves a layer of dead plant material on top of the turf. Incorrect fertilisation is often the cause of a build up of thatch, so always take care to follow the manufacturer’s instructions whenever you feed your lawn.

A thin layer of thatch is good for your lawn – it will protect the grass and roots from damage by wind and sun, and safeguard the grass from extremes in temperature.

How will I know if my lawn has thatch?

The presence of too much thatch in a lawn will make it feel spongy to walk on, and it will be difficult to pull a rake through the lawn. If you’re still unsure whether or not your lawn has too much thatch, cut through a small section of the turf and look for a layer of thatch sitting just above the soil line: If the layer is thicker than around 1.5cm then it’s time to dethatch (or scarify) the lawn.

When shall I remove the thatch?

Thatch is best removed during the spring or autumn months, as it will leave the lawn looking patchy. If scarified during the spring the lawn will have time to recover before heavy use during the summer, and if scarified during the autumn this will give the lawn time to recover before winter arrives. However, just give the lawn a light rake during springtime, and leave heavy scarification for the autumn months.

How to remove thatch

Gently scratch the surface of the lawn using a spring-tined rake, pulling the rake backwards and forwards to remove the dead material. Don’t be alarmed if your lawn looks patchy after this process as new roots will soon begin to grow thanks to the air, light, and water that can now reach the roots. In time, the lawn will become thick, green and lush – just remember to keep on top of the thatch!