A thatcher, also known as a dethatcher, vertical mower or verticutter, is utilized as part of a normal lawn maintenance regimen to split too-thick thatch, the layer of dead and living plant stems, roots and other parts which accumulate between the soil surface and the grass blades. A thin layer of thatch contributes to the health of the turf, however extreme thatch can prevent air and moisture from reaching the grass roots and make the turf more vulnerable to stress injury.
When Dethatching is Needed
When a turf area feels spongy or springy underfoot, has dry spots even with adequate watering, shows scalping after mowing or contains more disease or insect problems than usual, you might have excessive thatch. The ideal method to learn whether you need to dethatch is to dig small wedges of grass and soil from several parts of the yard and measure the brownish thatch layer between the soil surface and green section of the grass blades. If the thatch layer is over 1/2 inch thick, then you have to dethatch.
A thatching rake is a hand tool which works nicely for thatch accumulation in tiny regions of lawn. This tool includes a series of thick blades meant to dig into the turf and loosen the thatch. You pull on the thatching rake across the yard to split the thatch and then remove the loosened thatch and other debris.
A vertical mower, also called a dethatcher or verticutter, handles large areas more efficiently than a rake and you can rent them from equipment rental centers. This machine includes a collection of revolving blades whose height and spacing you can adjust to best adapt specific grass types. Prior to utilizing the vertical mower, mow the turf slightly shorter than usual and lightly moisten the soil surface. To get the very best results, run the vertical mower across the entire lawn area in 1 direction and then in a perpendicular direction to the first. After dethatching, rake up all the debris from the yard.
Timing and Use Considerations
Lawns recover from dethatching greatest when the grass is actively growing. Both warm- and cool-season grasses handle dethatching in late spring, while cool-season grasses additionally recover nicely after dethatching in early fall. If you dethatch around exactly the same time as other yard maintenance tasks, take action before aerating, applying preemergent herbicide, overseeding or fertilizing. Too much fertilizer, over-watering and severe soil compaction encourage thatch accumulation, so avoiding these practices or correcting compaction can restrict how frequently you have to dethatch.