A question about dethatching

I recently received a good question about dethatching in my email.

“Is dethatching a lawn necessary or even advisable with sandy well drained soil?”

Only if you have extreme thatch. We consider it an emergency service for lawns that are being starved of moisture and air because of the build-up.

Normally extreme thatch occurs because of infrequent mowing and long clippings left on the lawn.  All lawns require some thatch (less than ½ inch) in order to protect sensitive roots and keep moisture in the soil.

We rarely see thatch bad enough to harm a lawn, but I do sometimes find really serious problems, like the thick, spongy layer of thatch I found on top of the soil in this customer’s lawn. 

Kyle Tobin peeling back a lawn to reveal heavy thatch

I found this thick, matted mass on a client's lawn. The grass' roots were not even reaching the soil!

You can reduce your chances of building up thatch by mowing every 5-7 days, and making sure you are never removing more than 1/3 of the blade of grass.
Thatch build up can also be caused by shallow watering that forces roots to stay near the surface of the soil thatch interface.

Overfertilizing with high nitrogen fertilizer and high pH levels will also get you fast-growing grass that is slow to break down when cut. 

Heavy soils too, can lead to this condition. When the soil is waterlogged and badly compacted, roots simply can’t push their way deep into the ground, and end up growing sideways into a tangled mess.
It is a problem because it creates a favourable environment for insects and disease to thrive.
It is caused because the plant matter does not break down as quickly as it is added to.

Take a look at this close up! It’s like the grass is trying to grow on a block of foam.

The roots of this grass were over an inch away from actual soil.

If dethatching you are pulling and ripping at roots, so be sure to overseed afterward.
Regular Aeration is the number one thing to help to prevent it from occurring.

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  • Coping with Covid Update: (updated 04/16/21)

    Hi Everyone, 

    LawnSavers managed to persevere through this last pandemic year with the loyal partnership of our clients.

    We are able to service lawns and perform pest control services in all our service areas,  officially on the Provincial list of essential services due to our ability to provide service safely and with no personal contact!

    Our office remains open in addition to some remote staff.   Please note our office may be experiencing a higher volume of calls.  We know how much everyone hates being left on hold, so please leave us a message or email us at and we will get back to you in less than 24 hours.  (you can now also text us at 905-707-9994)
    Please be patient with us, we will get back to you as fast as possible.
    You can also sign up for services on our website by clicking here.

    2020 is now behind us.  Together with our customers, we face Covid-19 head-on as a community-minded local small family business and are extremely grateful to be able to survive and keep all of our loyal employees working hard with us through it all.

    2020 threw everything bad that it could at us:

    • Nine days of snow, ice and wintry weather in May.
    • One of the hottest driest summers on record with long spells of grass-killing heat and drought. Read more here in our 2020 summary blog.
    • A bumper crop of crabgrass that germinated in the perfect (rainless) storm.
    • Chinch Bug numbers were record breaking and persisted through the dry heat they love, secretly killing lawns while dormant! We can help with Chinch bug damage
    • We put together an easy to read lawn care service timeline that you can use to know when to expect us for each scheduled service in your package. 

    I want to reassure you that in every decision we make around COVID-19, our number one priority remains the health and safety of our employees and customers.  Safety, Integrity and honesty are our most important core values.  We will continue to follow strict safety guidelines that ensure “zero touch”.  We will not let our guard down on exercising our safety protocols!

    Thank you all for your understanding and extra patience during these challenging times. Our team works hard, so if you are met with our exceptional service from our technicians or office team members- please give them a thumbs up to make them smile or let me know through a quick email to

    We thank you for supporting our local, family-owned business of 31 years.
     genuinely appreciate each and every one of you and promise that we will do our part to ensure our mutual safety and look forward to be back on your lawn as soon as possible this Spring

    Thank you in advance,
    Kyle Tobin
    Chief Environmental Officer