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Success with Natural / Microbial Dethatchers?


Joined: Sep 24, 2011
Posts: 1
Some parts of my lawn have a rather thick thatch layer.  Some of the thatch seems to be dead grass and such, but much of it seems to still be attached to green living grass.  If I pull at a tuft of green grass that appears to be 4 inches tall, it sometimes has an additional 6 inches of brown runners between it and the soil.

Now this isn't necessarily a horrible thing, as the parts of the lawn that have lots of thatch are the greenest parts, with the fewest weeds.  However, the thatch makes my manual reel mower (Fiskars) far less effective -  the grass is more laying down than standing up.  Plus, I just don't like it.

I don't really want to manual rake or power dethatch.  I saw a few "natural dethatcher" products online, both liquids and pellets, that claim to break down the thatch.  I can see this working on the dead part of the thatch, but will it do anything for the living thatch?  If not, any other ideas?  Has anyone used the microbial dethatchers?

If I mow very low just once, would that do anything helpful (convince the grass to grow upwards)?

I mow high, and don't do much else.  I threw on some milorganite this summer (likely the wrong time), and may put some down again this fall.  I'm in southwestern PA.

Al Loria

Joined: Apr 21, 2010
Posts: 395
Location: New York
As much as you don't want to do it, a manual thatch might be in order this one time. I did it last year out of desperation, but I have a small lawn. Once your lawn is up and running with good microbial life, then you should not have to thatch. The "natural" dethatchers must work with some kind of living organism to breakdown thatch. A lawn that is full of life will do that automatically.
It's in the permaculture playing cards. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
subject: Success with Natural / Microbial Dethatchers?