De-thatching the lawn
It's time for a makeover and spa week for the lawn. Five years after planting, some bald patches had developed, the turf was thinning, and it was looking as patchy as a shedding bison. It had a rough couple of years in 2012 and 2013 because I wasn't here to monitor the watering and mowing. And some of the Bermuda died, leaving bald spots.
|Shaggy buffalo eating grass|
In the wild, buffalo grass would be closely grazed by bison or cows and occasionally be burned to the ground in a grass fire. I'm going to mimic that by mowing it short and de-thatching it. For comparison, annual de-thatching is recommended for Bermuda grass.
- Mow It. My mower doesn't have the power to close-cut long grass, so I set the mower at the highest level and mow the grass. Use the collecting bag.
- Mow It Shorter. Lower the blades to the middle setting and do it again. Do not "scalp" the Buffalo by mowing it at the lowest setting. It doesn't like that.
De-thatch a 2- 3-foot strip across the lawn, then rake the de-thatched area lightly at right angles to your previous raking. Pick up the thatch and dump it on your compost pile. Repeat with the next strip.
|This is only part of the thatch I removed.|
Mow it ... again at the same setting, and collect the clippings.
This is a quick mow that gets rid of the tufts left by the de-thatching process. I collected less than a bag full for the whole lawn.
DE-THATCHING TIP: Trying to rake by pulling horizontally through the grass takes way too much muscle power. The most effective technique is to rake towards yourself until the tines snag under the thatch, then lift up and lift the thatch out of the grass. It's a circular lifting motion, a lot like fluffing up a poodle.
|Set the rake like this, and use the teeth at the left - for raking and lifting.|
Why not use powertools for de-thatching?A thatching bladed on a mower might work, but you will still be raking up piles and piles of dead grass afterwards. We couldn't find a de-thatching blade that would fit our mower.
The "Verti-cutter" power de-thatching machines would probably just chew up the roots without helping the grass.