What is Lawn Thatch?

Spring arrives in just a few days and it’s time to take a look at the lawn and see what’s necessary to make sure it will be that carpet of luxury we all want. One of the things that can spell disaster to a lawn is the accumulation of heavy thatch. Thatch is organic matter like leaves and grass clippings that have not fully decayed. While it’s good to let mulched grass clippings remain on the lawn to add organic matter, sometimes all the clippings or the mulched leaves from fall don’t break down and a build-up of thatch occurs.

Thatch prevents moisture, air and even fertilizer from reaching the grass roots and will cause the grass to become weak and subject it to pests or diseases as the growing season progresses . Springtime is the best time to take a look. Call it your grasses annual exam. Simply bend over and become one with your grass. Part the blades and examine below them to determine how thick the thatch might be. If it’s over a ½ inch you could have a problem. If it’s greater than a one inch, you need to take immediate action. However, there is a relatively simple cure – remove it.

If you don’t have a large lawn, you can use a stiff tined rake and give your lawn a vigorous combing. It will take a bit of effort, but your grass will be appreciative and will reward you with vigorous growth. Make sure that while you are removing the thatch, you are not pulling up too much grass. It’s almost impossible to completely eliminate some grass from being pulled out, but you want to make sure it is minimal. The thatch you have pulled up will be partially decayed organic matter, so it is a good idea to add it to your mulch pile. If you don’t have a mulch pile this could be the start.

You should be able to see the bare ground after thatch removal and your lawn may look a bit ragged after you complete the task, but you have provided a great opportunity for new shoots to develop and will see the results of your efforts in a week or two. Additionally you have made it possible for the grass to obtain the water, fertilizer and air that it needs to thrive. Removing the thatch will insure a healthy lawn throughout the growing season.


  1. Is it safe to treat your lawn wqith a fungus killer along with a weed and feed (Scotts Products)

  2. Greg LaCour says:

    I have all bermuda grass in my yard. I am haveing dead spots all over my yard. Most are two inch circles. I have very few weeds. I spray round up around Feburary to kill weeds and clover. What is causing the dead spots? Do i need to fertalize? I also have alot of gofers and ground moles that I am always trying to get rid of. Thanks for any information.

  3. Jim Alexander says:

    Is it okay to thatch broadleaf fescue?