Top dressing or composting is a great way to help your lawn look its best. This is a process that many golf courses use to keep their course as healthy as possible. Good soil is living soil. That may sound like a cliché, but it's true. One tablespoon of soil can contain billions of microorganisms. These microscopic organisms are one of the reasons we have plants and trees. In nature, soil microbes enrich soil by converting fallen leaves, limbs and other debris into nutrients plants can use. Since many home lawns have poor quality soil, top dressing becomes even more important. Top dressing is simply a way of adding organic material and restoring the balance to home lawns, building better soil and increasing soil flora.
It has many benefits including:
- infusing the soil with beneficial microbes and essential minerals
- increasing soil aeration
- improving drought resistance
- relieving compaction problems
This can be done in the spring or fall. For best results, it is done in the fall after at the same time as the aeration and overseeding.
What is Thatch?
Thatch is a buildup of living and dead stems, leaves, and roots that occur between the soil surface and the green grass of your lawn. This layer of organic material doesn’t decompose in a timely manner to help the lawn benefit. A small amount of thatch is healthy for the lawn as it will help to retain moisture, regulate the soil temperature, and increase the wear tolerance. When thatch becomes to be more than ½” or more in thickness it can be very harmful to the lawn. It prevents airflow, light and water from reaching the roots of the plant. Additionally, the thatch may get to be so thick that the roots begin to grow in the thatch layer which will then kill the grass as the roots overheat in the St. Louis Summer heat.
What is dethatching?
Dethatching is the process of removing the excess thatch buildup in the lawn. It involves using a power rake that combs out and removes just the right amount of the dead material. We then collect the excess thatch and haul it away to improve the look of your lawn. After this thatching process is complete, we will then fertilize the lawn to help return it to a healthy state. Watering is very key after this service is performed as the lawn needs to recover from the stress of dethatching.
When does Dethatching need to be Performed?
This should be completed when the thatch layer becomes over ½” thick. Depending on the type of grass and soil conditions, dethatching may need to be done annually or once every couple of years.
You may also need dethatching if:
- your grass has bare spots, but you can’t see the ground
- your lawn looks scalped after every mowing
- your grass is green on top but spongy and brown underneath
The best time to perform this service is in the middle of the growing season for warm season lawns. This will allow plenty of time for the lawn to recover from the stress of dethatching. It should also not be done during times of extreme heat and drought as it will also put excess stress on the lawn.
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