Established turf areas usually have a thatch build up. Thatch consists of pieces of stems, roots, stolen, rhizomes, and debris that are slow to decay. This build up occurs in the layer between the grass blades and surface of the soil. This makes it difficult for water, fertilizers, and air flow to penetrate the soil surface and reach the roots. This can cause patches of dead grass or a thinning of the turf areas. Indicators are:

  • Bouncy feel
  • Visible brown areas
  • Increases drought stress

A layer of thatch that is greater than ½ an inch encourages pest populations, and fungal growth. It also reduces the ability for treatment of these pests as the insecticides cannot penetrate the thatch to reach root feeding insects. Avoid thatch build up by cutting the turf the proper height for the species, irrigate deeply and infrequently, and avoid excess nitrogen applications. The following standards are:

  • Proper fertilizer applications
  • Avoid frequent and shallow irrigation
  • Mow properly

Thatch should be removed during spring or fall while the turf is still growing. This is usually followed by an application of seed to help re-establish a healthy turf.

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