Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Got Thatch?

Thatch is a tightly intermingled layer of living and dead stems and leaves which accumulates between the layer of actively-growing grass and the soil underneath. Thatch is a normal component of an actively growing turfgrass. As long as the thatch is not too thick, it can increase the resilience of the turf to heavy traffic. Thatch develops more readily on high-maintenance turfgrass than on low-maintenance turfgrass.

How does thatch affect turf quality?
An excessive thatch layer (more than 1 inch) can restrict the movement of air, water, fertilizer and other materials to the roots. This air- and water-impervious layer causes the grass to restrict rooting to the thatch layer which in turn reduces drought resistance in the turf. Additionally, if the thatch dries out, it becomes very difficult to re-wet with out the use of wetting agents or mechanical manipulation.

Thatch Management
The management of thatch production is done by closely monitoring inputs such as, water, fertilizer, topdressing and growth regulation applications. Ideally the timing of these inputs needs to match the production of thatch so that a homogenous blend of material is produced.