Does your lawn look worse after a mow? Are there circular spots of dry frayed grass following a mow? If this is the case, it is highly likely that you have thatch. Thatch is a build of dead grass leaves, stolons and rhizomes in your lawn which leaves your lawn looking unsightly after it is mown.
Lawn thatching is a common problem that can result from uneven water penetration, insufficient mowing or neglecting to maintain your instant turf. Thatch lawn creates a less drought tolerant grass.
The best news about dethatching lawn in Melbourne is that the cure is not complicated. In fact, you are likely to have dethatching equipment on hand, in your shed or garage.
Scalping grass is the equivalent of a skinhead haircut for your lawn. Scalping the turf to remove thatch can be achieved by setting the mower as low as possible and mowing with a catcher. When researching how to scalp your lawn, it is essential to note that all grass clippings must be removed from the surface to allow for maximum, even regrowth.
Dethatching Kikuyu grass and dethatching Couch grass by scalping is effective if you scalp as close to the ground as possible. Whereas dethatching Buffalo lawn is more successful when stolons and some leaf is left after mowing.
Thatching rakes are helpful to remove dead leaf material in Buffalo, Kikuyu and Couch lawns and if used aggressively will have a similar effect to moderate low mowing. Dethatching rakes in Australia are easily available from any lawn supplier or garden store. Be sure to remove the dead vegetative material following raking to present a clear surface for water and fertiliser penetration.
Lawn scarifiers are tools, like mowers which aid in removing lawn thatch. Scarifying lawn in Australia is suitable for dethatching Couch lawn.
Coring is sometimes suggested as a means of thatch removal. This is a fallacy as only 8-12% of the surface matt is removed with a conventional Core Pass. Coring is used to open up the surface to oxygenate the profile and “unseal the surface” prior to topdressing. Coring provides an entry point for topsoil to get into the old soil profile, if laid immediately after coring. Once again, removing lawn clippings is essential at this point.
Thatch removal in warm season grasses is best carried out from late October to early December. Prior to October warm season grasses are still recovering from winter and developing new shoots and energy stores in the root system as well as producing new roots, rhizomes and stolons. Scalping at this early stage will result in a slow recovery and provide bare areas for weed seed to develop in.
Scalping lawn in spring is ideal. However, do not scalp your kikuyu lawn, buffalo lawn or couch lawn in its first spring season if it was laid in late autumn or winter; your lawn is still in the infancy stage of its lifespan and needs to develop a strong root system to get it through its first summer.
It is our recommendation to avoid scalping or scarifying your lawn after January.
Whichever method you choose to dethatch your lawn, you must feed the lawn immediately after with lawn food fertiliser and irrigate sufficiently. The use of a wetting agent at this stage will also benefit water penetration through what is probably a hydrophobic (water repelling) surface layer.
Dethatching will inevitably leave your lawn looking a mess for a few weeks. But it will recover, and the many benefits of scalping your lawn will be worthwhile.