Making Smarter Landscaping Choices

Spongy Yard? 4 Things That Might Be Increasing The Thickness Of Your Lawn's Thatch Layer

Most healthy lawns develop a layer of thatch, which is basically a layer of both living and dead roots, stems and shoots. The thatch layer, located between green grass and the soil, poses some benefits as long as it doesn't get too thick. A thin layer of thatch can protect the soil from extreme temperatures and help it maintain a more consistent moisture level. However, too much thatch can be a bad thing. It can prevent roots from reaching the soil, which makes them susceptible to scorching. What's more, thatch can act like an over-zealous sponge and hold onto water longer than is healthy after a heavy rain. 

Fortunately, you can manage thatch with frequent raking. You can also try to keep certain things in mind that can contribute to thatch buildup, such as the following. 

Grass Type

Certain types of grasses are more prone to developing a thicker layer of thatch than others. For example, Kentucky bluegrass and creeping red fescue often produce more thatch because they develop and produce a lot of stem tissue. Grasses that produce very little stem tissue, such as tall fescue and perennial ryegrass, do not usually make a lot of thatch. 

Acidic Soil

Thatch is naturally maintained through microbe activity, which decomposes dead plant material. However, if your soil has an acidic pH, it might not provide a healthy environment for the necessary microorganisms to thrive and feed. These microorganisms also cannot thrive in heavily compacted soils and soil mixes where the amount of clay and sand is high.

Pesticide Use

Pesticides kill off unwanted pests, but they can also kill off beneficial species. For example, earthworms are susceptible to several types of pesticides. If you use pesticides regularly, you might not be able to maintain a healthy earthworm population, which can be detrimental to your lawn. Worms actively burrow, aerating your lawn and stimulating microbial activity. If you don't have enough worms to mix things up, your lawn with develop more thatch. 

Fertilizer Use

Fertilizers stimulate the growth of root and stem tissues, which naturally results in more thatch. While some fertilizer is good for your lawn, too much fertilizer can contribute to a thick thatch layer. Fertilizers may also increase soil pH, which can further stimulate the production of thatch. 

As you can see, there are several things that can contribute to a thick thatch layer. In addition to avoiding these common instigators, you should take steps to physically manage thatch through aeration, raking and liming. If you need help with lawn care services, visit Show-Me Mowing.