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Thatch: Why It's Bad for Your Lawn, and How to Remove It

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When you're caring for your lawn, most of your efforts will centre around mowing. After all, keeping the grass at the ideal length is the most important part of ensuring it's both attractive and healthy. Something many lawn owners aren't aware of is the problem of thatch.

Put simply, thatch is a build-up of tangled matter within your lawn, mostly comprised of dead shoots and stems. The problem is that it contains a large amount of matter that is either slower to break down than other organic material or which doesn't break down on its own at all.

While thatch is hidden from view, it still causes a number of practical problems such as poor moisture control within the lawn and a haven for pests. As such, to keep your lawn healthy, it's important to remove thatch using a suitable technique.

Small lawns

When you only have a small patch of grass, removing the thatch doesn't need much work. There's a special tool available called a thatching rake, which just needs to be dragged through the grass to dethatch it. Doing this after each mowing should keep on top of the problem.

Large lawns

With a large lawn, using a thatching rake would take a very long time and involve a lot of hard work. If you have a lot of grass, you should already be using a ride-on mower to keep it trimmed, and if not, you'll definitely want to invest in one to help you get rid of thatch.

A dethatching attachment fits onto the back of your ride-on mower, so it can be dragged along like a mini tractor plough. It lets you mow and dethatch at the same time, leaving your lawn beautiful and healthy with very little effort.

Medium lawns

Lawns that fall into the middle ground can be dethatched using whichever technique you think best. While you might not have previously considered ride-on lawn mowers, it can be good to invest in one to take the extra work out of lawn care when you throw thatch into the mix.

If you have the stamina, you might be able to get away with using a thatching rake, but you'll need time to devote to it. Alternatively, machines are available for the sole purpose of removing thatch, but buying one in addition to your regular mower might be less cost-effective than getting a ride-on mower and thatching attachment; plus it requires more work.