Vertimow Service - What is thatch in my lawn ?

Over time, little bits and pieces of grass die and gather just above the soil. This is called thatch. A little bit of thatch is beneficial as its organic material that is broken down by natural processes. But sometimes, thatch builds up too fast for natural processes to break it down. When this happens the lawn builds up a layer of thatch forming a barrier that prevents moisture and air from getting to the roots.

How does thatch harm lawn?

Thatch causes a number of problems for lawn. Thick thatch contributes to drought stress because water has a hard time getting to the soil and runs off instead of sinking in. In Western Australia this problem is further exacerbated by that fact that we have hydrophobic soils. Numerous pests and insects live and breed in the thatch layer. Sunlight also has a hard time penetrating thatch, making grass spindly.

You have two ways of alleviating the problem of excess thatch: vertimowing and coring.


Vertimowing is an extremely dirty, messy process of removing the thatch and loosening the top soil. The machines used are noisy and heavy. If done incorrectly it can take a long time for the grass to recover. It also produces a lot of waste material that needs to be removed. It is possible to do this yourself however it is probably more cost effective to contact us for a free quote. Generally vertimowing should be as needed . It is extremely stressful to the grass and therefore should only be attempted during Spring and early summer. Proper watering, mowing and fertilizing and regular lawn areation can prevent thatch build-up. Vertimowing has the following advantages.

  • "Opens-up" the lawn allowing fresh new growth.
  • Dramatically reduces water wastage by runoff and puddling
  • Dramatically improves the air exchange between soil and the atmosphere.
  • Dramatically improves the grass root system
  • Enhances the ability of the soil to absorb more water.
  • Improves fertilizer uptake.
  • Reduces soil compaction
  • Remove all or nearly all thatch.

Coring / Lawn Aeration

Lawn aeration is the process of making holes in the lawn by extracting a small plug of thatch and soil to improve soil aeration. It is more commonly known as "core aeration" in the lawn service industry. Other words used to describe this process that you may have heard used are coring and spiking. Lawn aeration is a less stressful to a lawn than vertimowing but needs to be done more often, generally at least once a year. Aerating a lawn has the following benefits to your lawn and its root system.

  • Improves the air exchange between soil and the atmosphere.
  • Improves the turf's root system
  • Reduces water wastage by runoff and puddling
  • Enhances the ability of the soil to absorb more water.
  • Improves fertilizer uptake.
  • Reduces soil compaction
  • Improves the turf's heat and drought stress tolerance
  • Enhances thatch breakdown.

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