Thatch is often of some concern with Saint Augustine lawns, especially after the lawns have been established a long time, the problem is that St Augustine thatches much more heavily than any other grass type. This is made worse for the homeowner when facing the problem of having to remove the thatch, which is a much more difficult task for Saint Augustine lawns than other grasses.
Great care must be taken when controlling thatch in a Saint Augustine lawn.
Methods of Controlling Lawn Thatch
Vertimowing is a process of removing most of the surface vegetation of lawns at one time, with the use of specialised machines. Saint Augustine lawns should be de-thatched regularly and only ever by professionals if using the vertimowing method. Attempts to remove thatch this way by an untrained person could lead to the removal of too much of the top layer of turf, which could then in turn possibly heavily damage or kill the lawn. Strong caution needs to be taken when considering this method of thatch removal on Saint Augustine grass.
One Time Lawn Mowing
This can be used as a method of de-thatching by aggressively lowering the mowing height and removing more of the surface vegetation in a single lawn mowing. This is not recommended for Saint Augustine. However it can be done if great care is taken not to go too low with the lawn mowing, and only if it is done regularly. The beginning of Spring is usually the best time for this practice.
Slowly Reduce Lawn Mowing Heights: Recommended
Slowly reducing mowing heights over several lawn mowing sessions is probably the safest method to control thatch in Saint Augustine grass.
Using a rotary lawn mower, lower the mowing height so that the lawn mowing aggressively bites into the thatch of the grass. But don't go too low at once.
Now wait until the lawn begins to show signs of green leaf growth and repair.
Mow the lawn again one notch lower on the lawn mower.
Repeat the process as required until the thatch is removed.
Lawn Thatch Removal Tips:
The more frequently the lawn can be mowed - the better the result will be.
Never begin lawn mowing again until the lawn is showing good signs of health and repair from the previous mowing, and is no longer showing any signs of poor health or stress.
Never de-thatch during the heat of Summer, as this could highly stress the lawn and may kill it. Begin de-thatching at the start of Spring or Fall only.
Do not fertilize the lawn during the repair process.
Back To Good Lawn Health
Once the lawn has fully repaired and is in full health, increase mowing heights to normal mowing levels once more. The lawn can now be fertilized as well.