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Home > Lawns > Thatch and Soil Compaction

Thatch and Soil Compaction

grass profile

Thatch is accumulated plant matter at the base of the grass plant that resists decay. It can build up over time. It stops water and air movement and is an ideal habitat for insect pests such as grubs.

Compaction is when soil is packed down. It will lead to an unhealthy lawn. Soil compaction stops water movement and air movement and limits how deep grass roots can grow.

Quick Tips

  • Scratch thatch. A thatch layer thicker than 1/2 inch is not good for your grass. Thatch can be controlled with equipment that aerates and dethatches turf. Top dressing with 1/4-inch of top soil or compost and reducing use of pesticides help too. Avoid spiked sandals; they not only don't work, they lead to soil compaction!
  • Keep off wet grass. Soil compaction can be controlled by keeping foot and other traffic off the lawn when it is moist.
  • Aerate twice a year. Aerating in the spring and fall helps alleviate problems in already compacted lawns. Turf aerators are available at your local tool rental retailer. Full-service lawn care professionals offer aeration as a service too. After aeration is a great time to overseed with lower maintenance grass varieties.