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What is Thatch?

Thatch is the build up of organic material, both living and dead, forming a layer around the root zone of the lawn. It’s made up of dead leaves, old turf roots and stems, and other organic matter. This layer can form a barrier between the air and roots, and can be the cause of many lawn problems: dead patches, puddling, moss growth, and generally an unhealthy lawn.

Plant Roots Need Oxygen

It is less known that plant roots, including turf, need air as well as water and nutrients to survive. Oxygen is taken up by the roots through the root hairs and is part of plant respiration. So, it is important that plant roots have access to oxygen and that there are tiny air pockets in the soil root zone. Rain or irrigation spray, and fertilizer application will also not penetrate this dead layer easily either. The result is that the root zone will not receive anything it needs in sufficient quantities when a big layer of thatch exists.

Dethatching & Aeration

The good news is that thatch can be combated in a number of ways.

Dethatching is the first step to achieving a healthy lawn. Earthdance Organics will use dethatching in conjunction with aeration and organic soil treatment to help your lawn flourish again.

We have a dethatching machine that will take out much of the thatch that has built up over the seasons, allowing a freer flow of air, water, and nutrients into the root zone. We pair this with Core Aeration, which takes out tiny plugs from the lawn soil at regular intervals, further aiding the root zone in growing deep, strong roots, improving drainage, and further alleviating the thatch barrier.

Healthy Soil Helps to Alleviate Thatch

Next, we attend to the soil. Healthy soil will contain a good amount of soil life or microbes. This will help to keep thatch down by aiding in the decomposition of dead, organic material. But if your soil is too acidic, or compacted, soil life will not be flourishing. That’s why it’s important to tend to soil health holistically.

Beneficial Soil Life

If you have treated your lawn with harmful chemicals, this will also impact the soil microbial life. Pesticides can kill off earthworms and beneficial microbes, and it is these creatures that break down organic material for us and also aerate the soil. Earthdance Organics will treat your soil with our FertileTea, establishing larger communities of beneficial microbes. This awakening of the soil will allow the roots long term access to the air, water, and nutrients they need in order to flourish, preventing too much thatch from building up again.

Use of Lawn Fertilizer

Our Organic Lawn Care Program uses a combination of probiotic FertileTea along with organic and organic-based fertilizers to provide the turf with the nutrients it needs. Starting with a soil test identifies any nutrient deficiencies that need to be remediated. Previous overuse of nitrogen fertilizer can also cause thatch to build up by encouraging the lawn to grow too fast. This is also a problem for lawn maintenance, as the lawn will need to be cut more often. In contrast, we use organic fertilizers that break down slowly, releasing nutrients at a pace the roots can take up. With slow-release fertilizers, there is no spike in growth, but good development of a strong root system and grass blades.

Enjoy a Healthy Lawn

We dethatch a lawn as part of the Lawn Renovation Program, or as needed on a case-by-case basis. For lawns prone to thick thatch build up, you can expect that as your soil improves, with repeated applications of our FertileTea, thatch will not build up as much again, or as fast. Dethatching can also work well to remove moss from your lawn. Your lawn will grow a stronger, more resilient root system, which with regular care, will flourish, providing you with a beautiful, lush lawn to enjoy with your family.


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