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De-thatching the Lawn to Promote Grass Growth


Sooo it's been a couple of months since I posted our winter garden update. Since that post, not much  has changed and the lawn is still looking rather bedraggled, although it is STILL ALIVE! As spring is finally upon us (YES!!) I decided it was about time to try and fix things.

I decided the biggest problem with the lawn was that there was too much thatch sat along the soil line. This is kind-of like dead grass that's still attached and isn't removed when cut by the lawnmower. Thatch is actually good for the grass, but too much is problematic and can eventually stop the grass from growing altogether. I decided this was our biggest problem with the lawn. Since I had allowed the grass to grow ridiculously high (due to not owning a lawnmower to cut it!) the bottom the grass strands had died due to lack of light and caused thatch. A LOT of thatch. So this needed to be removed. You can see the amount of thatch amongst the grass here...


I cut the grass to about 4cm in height; this was as short as I felt I could go, and it was also the shortest trim the lawn has had yet. As we're going to be applying more grass seed eventually, we don't want to be cutting the lawn again until the new grass is a healthy length, around 7cm, so by cutting the lawn short now will hopefully stop it from growing too long whilst it can't be cut. Here's how the lawn looked after a good cut..


You can see some obvious patches amongst the grass even from that photo. I dug up these areas to turn the soil over and soften it up a little. I also dug up any weeds that were sat amongst the lawn...


Next - De-thatching! This is a process of by which you basically 'comb' through the grass removing only the dead thatch, leaving only the healthy grass. Everything I read recommended using an electronic de-thatcher which you can hire from most hire-stations. However, you can also buy special de-thatching rakes... Or you can just wing it with a normal rake and hope for the best (as I did). 

I used the rake to comb through the grass in sections pulling out thatch as I did so. The thatch collects on the rake, which I then removed and put into a bucket. This stuff is great for composting, so no need to take a trip to the skip.



When doing this I went over every section in different directions to make sure no thatch was missed. You can see some healthy grass has been picked up, and that's OK too, but the majority will be thatch. After a lot of work, this is how the lawn was looking...



If you compare that bottom picture to the one above with the bare patches I turned over - what a difference it has made. The lawn does looking shockingly sparse right here.. but that's how it should look at this stage. It was already in this kind of condition, but the thick thatch had concealed how bad the lawn really was.

After a thorough de-thatching, I then aerated the lawn. Again, you can hire a machine that will do this job best, but as we're doing everything on the cheap, I used a pitch-fork and stuck it into the ground about two dozen times throughout the entire lawn. This is going to help get nutrients back down into he soil.


Finally, I gave the lawn a good sprinkling of fertiliser and left the lawn to absorb this for around 5 days before re-seeding with grass seed over the whole lawn.


Looking healthier already! Check back soon for further updates ;)

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