Lawn and Garden

What is Dethatch?


man raking thatch

 What is Dethatch?

In its simplest terms, thatch is the layer of debris, dead grass, leaves, and other organic matter that lies between the grass blades and the top of the soil.  This matter can become compacted and keep nutrients, air, and water from reaching the soil to feed the grass roots and allow it to breathe.  It doesn’t matter how much fertilizer you apply, if you’re soil is too compacted, it will never receive the nutrients needed to feed the grass, retain moisture and allow the soil enzymes to thrive and succeed. 

People are often asking about the ingredients of our DE thatcher because it looks like Latin or very “laboratory concentrated” (is that a thing?) language, so I felt compelled to sort it out in good ole’ English…and in one phrase I can explain…” These are a bunch of Little Bugs that LOVE to eat dead grass, leaves, trash, or other bugs”!  But I’m sure most of you require a more complex understanding, right?


What is The Best Method of Dethatching?

I’m not a huge fan of manual dethatching with a machine, or poking holes in the earth.  The machine rips into the turf scratching it up, tearing at the established root system, disturbing the environment of the soil and the living organisms living below, plus it’s either expensive or labor intensive and time consuming.  After you rip up the existing soil, thatch, and turf, you have to rake it, pick up the torn substrata, level it, and most recommend that you replant with seed, then fertilize.  In effect you haven’t done anything at this point to “feed” the soil, you’ve just busted it up which does allow for air and water, so I much prefer using a combination of a liquid dethatch component and liquid lawn aerator backed up with a balanced fertilizer and food solution.  This guarantees that the thatch is removed by eating away at the dead grass allowing the natural environment to destroy the thatch while enrichening the living population of enzymes, bugs, worms etc.; below the turf.  Granted it’s a longer process, but you can see progress generally within 45 days, and long term it’s environmentally more friendly and certainly healthier for the soil and grass.


How Do I Know If My Lawn Needs Dethatching?

If in question, take a shovel and remove about a 6” deep of grass and soil to expose the root system and substrata.  If you can’t get a shovel into the ground, that’s your first clue that your soil is compacted and the lawn probably needs dethatching.  If your soil is hard red or black clay, shale or loam.  Compaction is usually a result of lack of water, increased machinery or foot traffic, and untreated soils over a long length of time. Either way a 1” layer of thatch is preferred.  The best solution for compacted soil is using a Liquid Lawn Aerator.  These products contain billions of microbes and usually microbe food that goes into the soil to allow the microbial population to break it up and feed the other microbes at the same time that live in the soil environment.  Clay can usually be softened and broken up in most cases, it does take time for this to work, but results are often seen in a matter of months.  It does require multiple applications but the results are always good and beneficial to the environment.  If your in a hurry, your best bet is to cultivate the soil down about 4” below the surface, install about 4” of top soil on top and re-seed with grass seed and then apply liquid lawn aerator along with a suitable balance liquid fertilizer like a 10-10-10 NPK solution.  Obviously this is an expensive and time consuming method, but you would see results in a matter of weeks.  Feed and Water are the winning assurances to a quick and successful lawn.

When To Dethatch?

We discussed why to dethatch above, early spring after the last freeze is the short answer for when.  If you are using liquid dethatch, cold weather slows down the microbial population, so you want to apply any liquids after the soil and air temperature are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

I Have Bermuda, Should I Dethatch?

All grasses are inclined to build up with thatch, so no matter what type of grass, you need to plan to dethatch.  I dethatch every year to feed the metropolis of insects, enzymes, and population of all living things below the surface.  Some more aggressive growing grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and Bermuda should always be treated with a dethatched every year whereas perennial ryegrass and tall fescue may not need it as often, but using a liquid lawn aerator on these clump-forming turfs is a great way to treat them.

What is The Best Dethatching Liquid?

We have developed an all-natural liquid made up of the best enzyme based and bio fungicides bacteria that can survive in the soil for a long time.  These are highly effective at colonizing the roots of plants and monitoring plant pathogens that need control. They also can repel other microbes by producing natural antibiotics which could affect fungi or bacteria in the sub-strata.  Studies have shown them to stimulate plants and turf to repel other attacking microbes. Farmers discovered a long time ago using these methods was a great way to increase productivity among crops at a more affordable rate.  And by feeding the soil, it is much more beneficial to the environment long term while reducing the amounts of fertilizer and water needed as well.

Is Bacillus good for plants?

Bacillus subtilis is a well know PGPR (Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria) in soil that actively combines to relieve stress on plants via induced systemic resistance as well as lipopeptide producing agents and formulation of biofilm agents that are formed when bacteria cling to the plant or each other.  This bacterium plays a key role in colonizing plant roots and maintaining plant pathogens.  It is a great producer of antibiotics to combat fungi and bacteria.  In other words, great induction of plant growth, improved enzyme health, antioxidants, and root stimulation.  Tests have proven it to reduce saline (salt) levels as well.  What’s not to love?

Bacillus licheniformis is very effective in prevention of plant diseases and works well to improve the soil at the same time.  This assures increasing fertilizer efficiency and is great for the micro-ecological environment.  It is a saprophytic (obtains food by absorbing dissolved organic material) organism that naturally occurs in plants and soil.   It has been proven to be non-harmful to humans and is a Gram-positive soil bacterium spore formed and used extensively in farming and gardening as well as other industries.  It has also been used to prevent and control plant diseases and improve the soil micro-ecological environment.  Furthermore, the application has been proven to decrease the amount of water needed for growth stimulation.

Bacillus megaterium is another soil bacterium effective in production of phosphate and potassium repair of fertilizers and improving the effects thereof.  It naturally degrades organic phosphorus in soil and very popular among biological organic fertilizers for residential turf, farming and organic gardening.  As a microbial soil inoculant it works well to enhance plant nutrients, microbial growth while increasing activity around developing roots as well as uptake of nutrients.  It is furthermore effective in fixing phosphates and potassium while reducing saline (salt) levels in stress.  Want to increase root, shoot and leaf development in grass and plants? 

Bacillus pumilus has been effective relieving abiotic (physical rather than biological) stress for plants that needed promotional growth.  It has also been found to enhance plant growth that is in salinity stress while stimulating plant growth and health.  This also can alleviate plant exhaustion from heat and drought conditions which is why lawn and turf operations, farms, and organic gardeners use it extensively.  This bacterium can bring an abundance of ecological functions to the soil ecosystem including nutrient cycling as well as stress relief mentioned above.  Bacillus is spore-formed and colonizes the new growth of grass and plants while suppressing plant disease fungal’ s such as Aspergillus, Rhizoctonia, Fusarium and more.

Are Amino Acids Good for Grass?

Amino Acids are organic compounds derived from hydrolysis via plant and animal waste solutions.  When those waste ingredients are formed, they combine nature to form proteins thereby being essential for grass, plant and crops health and functionality.

Amino Acids, also known as Protein Hydrolysates, are organic compounds that are obtained through the process of hydrolysis, from both plant and animal waste products.  This happens when those waste products are formed into liquid or solid forms through chemical, enzymatic, or thermal processes.  Amino Acids combine in nature to form proteins.  Amino Acids are essential for plant growth, health, and function.  Aminos are also an organic source of Nitrogen Bio stimulants needed for stress relief, healthy soil, and grow production.

Needless to say, the soil is a very busy place due to the billions of microbes that exist in 1,000 sq. ft.  Introducing more certainly makes for a chaotic environment, which in this case makes for an improved soil substance when applied and balanced correctly.  I’ve read that 1 square meter of soil 15 centimeters deep contains 105 trillion colony-forming units (CFUs) which is the measure of the number of bacteria or fungal cells.  Ten gallons of bacterial product adds up to 2.5 billion of CFUs.  That's a lot of laborers (bugs, people)! that are working on your behalf to build the lawn of your dreams, so git some bugs and watch em' work!!!  Keep Growing!  Papa Zeep