Legend Lawn Care

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Core Aeration & Thatch Management

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Legend Lawn Care

Core Aeration & Thatch Management
Thatch is the decaying material tied up between the crown and root system of the turf plant. It mostly comes from the grass plant sloughing old roots for new. Some comes from debris left on top but normally it is only a 5% addition. 1/4" or less is a normal thatch accumulation and can be considered good for moisture retention and a cushion for the turf plant.

All thatch needs attention. How thick it has become determines how it needs to be dealt with. Remember, your soil needs to breathe to produce a good turf stand. Thick thatch suffocates your soil and because of this, causes a multitude of other problems. A very thick (1" plus) thatch should probably be sod cut (stripped) and seeded.

A moderately thick ("-1") thatch can be vertically cut. This process removes some thatch by running a group of blades into the soil through the thatch layer. Some thatch is removed but more importantly, oxygen can get to the soil and thatch will start to decompose.

Under normal circumstances you can not remove thatch with a rake. There are a lot of products sold as dethatchers but the majority of them only rake. You can use a power rake for renovation purposes if you run it over the damaged area enough times, but this is not called thatch management.

Tine or spike aerators are good for oxygen introduction but cause vertical compaction and soil glazing which inhibits root growth. Core aerators are not thatch managers but they can be considered soil managers. If you manage the soil in your lawn correctly you can have an impact on thatch accumulation. Not all core aerators are created equal. The more cores pulled per square foot the higher the percentage of exchange will occur. Five or more per square foot is recommended. A good balanced fertilizer program in conjunction with liming and occasional use of organics can only be complemented by core aeration. Fall is the overall best time to core aerate because of climate conditions and turf root growth is highest. Power raking in springtime and core aeration in the fall is a very good combination.

Core aerating and overseeding drought and disease damaged lawns in the fall is recommended.

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