Dealing with Thatch
What is the best time to power rake my lawn? I've been bagging my clippings for the last two years, but I still have a fairly thick layer of thatch left over from before I was bagging. I'm planning on putting down a crabgrass preemergent and fertilizer this spring, which recommends not raking the lawn for several months. What's your opinion?
Reduce thatch problems with a change in your lawn care strategies. Rapid and excessive growth caused by over fertilization and over watering not grass clippings are the real causes of thatch. Consider using a slow release nitrogen fertilizer and applying the majority of your fertilizer in fall. Leave short grass clippings on the lawn. They break down quickly adding water, nutrients and organic matter to the soil. Power raking, also called dethatching, is used to remove thatch but is very hard on your lawn. It should only be done when the lawn is actively growing in spring and early fall and only if needed. A half inch of thatch or less is actually beneficial. It helps conserve moisture and cushions the soil from foot and equipment traffic that can lead to soil compaction. More than one half inch should be managed. Consider core aeration in spring or fall. It is less stressful on the lawn than dethatching. Removing cores of soil opens up the thatch layer allowing water and fertilizer to reach the grass roots.