Thatch is a build-up of organic material that does not easily decompose, like leaf sheaths, roots and stems.
Thatch build-up can:
- Make the turf more susceptible to disease pathogens and insects, which can cause significant damage to the overall health of turf.
- Impede healthy root development, which reduces the turf’s ability to defend against drought conditions.
- Slow the exchange of gas between soil and atmosphere, which is important for healthy root development.
- Reduce the intake of water from natural precipitation or irrigation, increasing run-off.
The generation of thatch varies from area-to-area, depending on turf type, soil conditions, and general maintenance practices. The ideal time to dethatch is when the turf is in active growth, to help with recovery.
Reducing and removing thatch can be done a number of ways. Rotary brooms and turf rakes do an excellent job of removing thatch. Aeration is also an effective way to break up the thatch layer, and should be done in conjunction with thatch removal for optimal benefits.