Whats happened to your green
carpet of lawn out front? You fertilize and water and mow and it looks worse every year.
You use insecticides and fungicides as recommended, even apply a weed and feed product
sometimes, yet the lawn doesnt thrive. Your problem may be thatch.
Get a feel for your lawns health--go barefooted to test for
thatch, which builds up when lawn clippings, roots, stolons, and rhizomes fail to compost
themselves as your lawn grows. The result is a thick rug between the soil surface and
green grass. Thatch is a cozy environment for bugs and diseases, as well as an umbrella
that sheds rain and blocks the sun from reaching the turf. If the lawn feels squishy or
springy under your feet, grab a ruler to determine the extent of your problem. It's time
to act if your thatch mat measures more than one half inch deep.
Thatch, or cavex, rakes should have heavy blades that leer like a
toothy crescent moon. By pulling the rake toward you through the grass, you cut thatch
loose. If your lawn is larger than three thousand square feet, rent a thatching mower,
also called a verticutter or vertimower.
To fill in blank spots after thatching, or to patch dead spots in
the lawn, choose between seed, sod plugs, or turf cuttings youve rooted. Newly
seeded areas demand careful watering and can be very difficult to establish on slopes or
in rainy weather. Buy grass plugs or cut your own from purchased sod squares. Saw through
the sod mat with a serrated knife to make two square inch plugs. Your own cuttings will
work best in areas less than a foot square. Look for fertilizers formulated for new
growth, and feed separately from the rest of your lawn for the first year.