Lawn Looks Bad After Dethatching: Reasons And What To Do?

Organic lawns require organic love to stay beautiful. Sometimes the lawn looks bad after dethatching. But it doesn’t have to be the case.

With some simple steps and time spent, lawns can come back to life in no time. You need to understand your soil and climate first.

Time is the name of the game when it comes to dethatching.

In this article, we will cover some of the best practices to ensure your lawn looks the best even after dethatching.

Dethatching Gone Wrong: Let’s Understand The Problem

lawn looks bad after dethatching

Let’s know why you are facing the bad look first. Below are some frequent issues that cause it.

  • Does The Lawn Look Brown?

You may have dethatched a bit too early in the season, and the soil may have turned brown due to the lack of protection it needs.

  • Does The Grass Look Like They Are Breaking, Or Has It Turned Into Mush?

High use of fertilizer causes this. Electric de-thatcher can cause this when improper spacing is applied.

  • Dead Grass Still Left After Dethatching?

Studies show that grass is quite beneficial to lawns and the flora-fauna involved. You may reconsider removing the last of the grass blades.

  • Lawn Looks Patchy

Well, the dethatching process includes a layer of overseeding. This is primarily to address the problem of patchiness.

Soil isn’t mass-produced with absolute similarities. The natural state of soil gets reflected after dethatching, and that’s okay.

  • Lawn Looks Yellow

Bright green sedge that borders on yellow is a significant problem of modern lawns.

These weeds look like grass and thrive when thatches get removed. Targeted application of fertilizer, overseeding and frequent mowing for the next couple of months should help curb their growth.

You can try acidic solutions too. However, the reaction to chemicals depends on the variety of seeds on your lawn.

  • Turf Quality Decrease

Very heavy thatch layers have more nutrients than soil itself.

It’s possible that the grassroots climbed upwards rather than downwards as that’s where most of the nutrition is.

What To Do After De-Thatching A Lawn?

aerate after dethatching

Here are the things that you can do after dethatching your lawn.

  • Overseed

Overseeding means applying a layer of grass seeds over the top of your existing seeds.

The health of the lawns depends on the type of seed you choose for overseeding.

We recommend testing your soil first and then seeding accordingly. Also, make sure the overseeding variety is a bit darker than your original match.

It is also better to get disease-resistant high germination seeds as grass tends to germinate less in an existing lawn.

  • Aerate

Aerated lawns help to dethatch gone bad by unblocking the pores of the soil and encouraging root growth. In addition, aerating can help with patchiness.

Aerating after dethatching is smart. It ensures the aeration process isn’t hampered by dead grass. You should aerate a lawn once a year.

  • Water

The soil has less protection on it now. It is important to water to keep the moisture in the soil. Especially, irrigation is a must when dethatching during the warm season.

Deepwater application is better than sprinkling. Deep drench encourages root growth. If possible, dethatch right after rain.

  • Fertilize

Fertilize before winter to get the best results. Go easy on herbicides as overseeding germination can decrease. You can give nitrogen or urea to nourish recovering roots.

Finally, plan for the next cycle. Establish the next gardener and invest in a dethatcher or a vertical cutter.

What to Do with Thatch after Dethatching?

what to do with thatch after dethatching

Don’t throw away: Thatches contain live seeds of weeds that may injure other soil. So never throw away thatch without proper care.

Compost: Compost your thatch and later till them into the soil as mulch. This helps ensure cross-contamination doesn’t take place and saves some money.

How To Prevent Thatch Buildup Later?

  • Use organic fertilizers

Organic fertilizers prevent rapid vegetation growth.

  • Aerate

Aeration helps to loosen the thatch layer and gets it integrated into the soil. Read this article if you are confused whether you should dethatch or aerate before overseeding.

  • Irrigate deeply, not frequently

Some grass species require deep irrigation, not frequent irrigation. Deep irrigation also forces the root downwards instead of upward the thatch layer.

  • Mark the date

Winter turf should be dethatched in early fall. Summer turf should be de-thatched in late spring. The timing is to help the overseed variety and ensure the grass and soil can survive the trauma of dethatching.

How To Properly Dethatch A Lawn?

First things first:

  • Check if you need to. Some thatch in the soil protects the soil from extreme temperatures. It also helps to control the soil moisture level. So, the smart thing to do is measure. If the thatch is over 1 inch thick, then continue with dethatching.
  • Dethatch a small part of the lawn first to check if the grass has roots in the thatch layer. This case may require special attention using chemicals, and we would recommend dethatching later. Dethatching may result in the grass getting uprooted completely. It won’t be solved by overseeding.
  • Keep the time marked according to season and prepare your tools. For large lawns, we recommend a vertical cutter—smaller lawns can make-do with a rake. Get plastic caps for irrigation heads and other hidden objects on the lawn. Gather fertilizer and seed once dethatching is done.
  • Please make sure you get a dethatching rake or power rake. It is a short tined one that’s designed to dig into the turf and pull up thatch. This requires more effort from the gardener, but the result is better than with a leaf rake.
  • You can also check dethatching liquids which use artificial enzymes to break down thatch into fertilizer. It does accelerate grass growth later as the soil gets a lot of nutrients at once.
  • Mow your lawn to half-inch lower than normal to make it easier to dethatch.

Dethatching motion:

  • Push the rake into the grass. We recommend it at a 45-degree angle. Then, pull the rake towards you to bring the thatch out. For the second pass, make sure you go 90-degree to the first pass. So, if you went east-to-west for the first pass, go west-to-east next time.
  • Make sure thatches are not pulling out too much grass. If it looks like most of the grass is getting uprooted, then the soil isn’t ready for dethatching yet.

Post Dethatching Care

Water, overseed and fertilize as mentioned above. Then call the municipality and ask if they have a composting program. Gather up the thatch and compost it or use it as mulch later.

As thatch can have seeds of invasive grass species and weeds, it is recommended that thatches be discarded haphazardly.

Expect the lawn to look a little bit worse and patchy for a few days. The overseeding and fertilization should help with it.

Final Words

It can be confusing to perform a maintenance task only to have the lawn look bad after dethatching.

The tragedy of dethatching is that the tearing motion that thins and damages an everyday lawn is a method that isn’t even needed for most lawns.

The method is often performed with desirable intentions, to cast off old leaves or debris, and for lots, it just feels desirable to get out and dethatch.

If your garden does have an immoderate thatch layer, over ½”, then dethatching is warranted.

However, do it within the fall while you ought not to worry about damaging susceptible spring grass or causing crabgrass and different weed seeds to germinate.

Follow the steps mentioned to ensure lush lawns.

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