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dethatching lawns

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Jan 10, 2013, 04:43 PM
corinne lashley
dethatching lawns
Our smallish suburban yard, front and back, has some thickened, compacted soil, hard for the grass to grow, areas. It isn't really like the grassy area is thick with thatch.....more that the soil is so compacted.

I know we have clay soil.

I assumed the lawn needs dethatching and got a recommendation for a lawn care company.

They use a chemicals as opposed to mechanical dethatchers?

I did a quick Internet search, one site was against chemical dethatching. But I didn't really find a lot of information?

Anyone know about chemical dethatching?
Jan 10, 2013, 05:32 PM
Sparky617
Not familiar with chemical dethatching. I have used my small Mantis rototiller to dethatch and aerate my yard before reseeding in the fall. It does a great job of pulling out the crabgrass that always seems to come up even though I've used preventer in the spring.

Not cutting the grass so short, not over fertilizing or doing frequent, shallow watering will go a long way towards preventing thatch. Improving the soil long term will help as will mechanical aeration especially in clay soils like we have in most of the south until you hit sandy soils.


General Disclaimer

Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.

My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Jan 10, 2013, 05:48 PM
joecercone
If your yard is small, it shouldn't be a big deal to thatch it. If you have a power mower, buy a thatching blade - costs less than $20 and does a super job of getting rid of dead organic material and loosening up the surface. If you don't have a power mower, a thatching rake will do the job quite well, it just requires more physical effort. In either case, I would avoid chemical dethatching.
Jan 10, 2013, 08:03 PM
GardenSprite
Do you leave grass clippings on the lawn to decompose? That might help as allegedly it enriches the soil.

I agree with the others; chemicals should be avoided, if for no other reason than local cats and dogs occasionally nibble on grass and you wouldn't want to harm them. I also don't think it would be kind to the worms in the ground, which do aerate soil.

I have a vague recollection of someone telling me of thatching shoes - like the old roller skates which fastened onto regular shoes before rollerblading became popular. They're like the spiked things that mountain climbers fasten to their shoes.
Jan 11, 2013, 10:19 AM
Conrad
quote:
Originally posted by GardenSprite:

I have a vague recollection of someone telling me of thatching shoes - like the old roller skates which fastened onto regular shoes before rollerblading became popular. They're like the spiked things that mountain climbers fasten to their shoes.


Those were supposedly for aeration, rather than de-thatching. They did little as the 2" spikes were solid and thin like a large nail.
We used to have someone come out and "core aerate" with a machine that pulled out plugs and laid them on the surface. We would do it every other year or so, and that did a great job with compacted soil under trees and such. Since we have mulch mowed the last 5 years, the lawn has not required it. (Still could probably use it, but not required it)

If it were me, I would really consider having the lawn area roto-tilled with some new compost or clean topsoil incorporated to help with the clay issues...then reseed this spring.
Jan 11, 2013, 11:47 AM
Sparky617
Depending where the OP is located spring can be a bad time to reseed. In the south we reseed in the fall.

I mulch my grass most of the time and don't have a thatch problem. I do run over my yard when I reseed it with my Mantis tiller using the regular tiller attachment to pull out dead grass, crabgrass and to scratch the soil to make a seed bed. Core aeration is recommended when you reseed, the plugs will break down on top of the soil and give the seed soil to sprout on rather than trying to sprout on compacted clay.

I'd love to rototill my entire yard and work several inches of compost into the soil. It would do wonders for the ability of the grass to root deeper and survive the hot summers better. However my neighbor has planted Bermuda grass and it is heading my way so I'm not going to put a lot of effort into trying to grow fescue much longer.


General Disclaimer

Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.

My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Jan 12, 2013, 10:54 AM
corinne lashley
Thanks to all of you. Good ideas and advice. Doesn't seem like chemical dethatching is a good or necessary way to go.
Jan 13, 2013, 12:03 PM
GardenSprite
Conrad, thanks for the clarification. sometimes the recollection of a specific purpose for a device becomes blurry as the memory ages Roll Eyes
Jan 13, 2013, 12:22 PM
Conrad
I do know what you mean.
The only reason I knew about these is I had a pair (for a buck at a garage sale) and stored them for several years in our garage, and resold them for 2 dollars.
That was about the only thing good about them. Wink
Apr 26, 2013, 06:15 AM
eric_hern
Do not use chemicals. You can buy a thatching rake, its hard work but hey, think about what the chemicals can do to you and your garden.


I'm a drywaller not a plumber. Leave it to me, most kitchen repair jobs should be left to the pros.