First Attempt at De-Thatching Lawn

Old 09-08-14, 09:02 AM
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First Attempt at De-Thatching Lawn

Been in our house for a year now and last summer was just a cut and maintain. This past spring I dug up a bunch of spots and put in large drywells and buried my downspouts. I am ready now to do a thatch on this property.

My last home was a smaller yard so I raked it by hand, bagged up the thatch and just limed/fertilized. This lawn I am taking a little more drastic approach as the lawn really needs a good kick in the rear. I have one of those blades for my push mower (I usually mow with the rider) that has the metal spring teeth. Once done I am going to go over with it with a spike aerator/overseeder. My questions are as follows;

1) Should I remove the thatch that I rip up or let it compost into the ground again? The property is an acre.

2) Is lime/fertilizer necessary for the overseed or will I be fine just watering it and watching for weeds?

3) I'm keeping clear of Scotts brand seed because the last time I used their Sun and Shade mix I ended up with a huge lot of crabgrass in the seeded area that I just killed off finally. Probably looking at an Agway Kentuchy or similar mix this time, thoughts?
Old 09-08-14, 09:27 AM
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Well, I think it depends how much thatch you rake up. A little dead grass would be good mulch/cover for the new seed and would help keep moisture in. But if it's too heavy it could smother the new grass seed.

I doubt lime/fertilizer is needed, and in fact you probably shouldn't use fertilizer at all until the lawn is established. Too much fertilizer can ruin your germination. You also don't apply herbicides (weed killers) for the same reason when a lawn is new. Fall is the best time to seed lawns, and battle any weeds next spring/summer.

As far as the Scotts brand, I doubt that your crabgrass came from their seed. More than likely the crabgrass seed was already in the ground and when the conditions were right, it grew. IMO any type of kentucky bluegrass would be a good choice, but you might want one mixed with fescue. Fescue/bluegrass mixes work well together. A blend of grass seeds will perform best.
Old 09-08-14, 09:35 AM
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I wouldn't thatch in the first place - cool season grasses generally don't develop thatch problems. If they do, a good core aeration usually solves the problem and relieves soil compression at the same time.
Old 09-08-14, 09:35 AM
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Received 5 Upvotes on 5 Posts you actually have thatch? No need to stress the lawn if not. Google for images and explanations of thatch.

Second...if you do have thatch, rent a dethatcher. The blades with spring "fingers" really tear up the lawn more than necessary. Either bag or mow over what is pulled up. If it's really thick, better to bag.

Third...use a core aerator not a spike style. The spikes can actually compact the soil even further. You can mow over the cores to redistribute the soil. Sharpen your blades afterwards.

Fourth... unless you get a soil analysis, no way of knowing if you need lime, though a light application of slow release starter fertilizer can't hurt.

Fifth...regionally blended mixes specifically for your area are always the way to go.
Old 09-08-14, 06:15 PM
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Not the whole lawn needs to be de-thatched but there are several areas. See the pics below for a sample of an area that I raked just a little bit.

The staff at Agway was more than helpful and set me up with a nice seed and some starter fertilizer.

So I honestly don't plan on renting equipment for this and don't mind tearing up the lawn a bit more than needed. I will probably mow it a little shorter, thatch, then mow again to really break up and spread it around more evenly. I'm not even sure if aeration is necessary for this, still debating that one. The process will happen this Saturday as it starts to cool down finally.

Here is the backyard as it stands today.
Old 09-08-14, 09:19 PM
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It is not a good idea to seed soon after core aeration. Much of the seed ends up at the bottom of the core holes, which is too deep for the seed to grow.

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