Lawn Thatch - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Lawn Thatch - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Lawn thatch is the layer of undecomposed stems, roots and other debris that accumulates near the soil surface.

In small quantities, thatch is beneficial for your grass.

Thatch becomes a problem when it is too thick and starts to suffocate the lawn. Hence the title for this blog. Read more to learn the good, the bad and the ugly about thatch.

The Good

A thin layer of thatch, which is less than 1/2″ thick, is beneficial for the health of your lawn:

  • Thatch shades the soil, helping keep it cooler
  • Thatch helps to slow down water loss
  • Thatch insulates plant crowns from fluctuations in temperature
  • Thatch improves tolerance to foot traffic

Lawn thatch

The Bad

When thatch becomes excessive (over 1/2" thick), it can affect the health of your lawn:

  • When you have a thick layer of thatch, the roots of your grass may be in the thatch and barely anchored to the the soil. This will make your grass more susceptible to winter kill, heat, dry conditions, stress and insects.
  • A thick matted layer of thatch acts like a sponge, absorbing water from rain and watering. This can promote disease. Also, during a heavy rain, water can accumulate in the thatch layer, potentially suffocating grass roots from lack of air.
  • Thick thatch can block water and fertilizer from reaching grass roots, drying out your lawn and reducing the effectiveness of lawn fertilizers.

The Ugly

Furthermore, in addition to affecting the health of your lawn, too much thatch in your lawn can lead to:

  • Insect issues as thatch can harbour insects
  • Disease
  • Restricted root development
  • Lack of water of absorption by your lawn as thick hatch prevents water from being absorbed by your grass

    Methods to Control Thatch

    Thatch management can take several forms. If your lawn has too much thatch, here are some methods to get it under control and go from 'excessive' to  'beneficial':

    • Power rake
    • Core aeration
    • Apply top dressing
    • Apply thatch digester

    The least labour intensive method to control thatch involves the application of Earth Smart Thatch Digester (ESTD)

    ESTD accelerates the decomposition of lawn thatch by stimulating microbes in the soil, which help the thatch decompose, turning it into beneficial humus.

    ESTD will:

    • Accelerate the decomposition of lawn thatch 
    • Help improve soil and plant health
    • Promote grass growth
    • Aid in the restoration of soil biomass
    • Stimulate growth of beneficial bacteria
    • Provide long lasting results

    Healthy lawn

    For thatch prevention apply thatch digester once per season, preferably in early spring.

    For thatch reduction apply 2 to 3 times per season depending on the degree of thatch.

    To optimize thatch control, apply ESTD in early spring when the lawn is in vigorous growth.

    Learn more about ESTD here.

    There you have it, the good, the bad and the ugly on lawn thatch.