This year's early snow trapped extra leaves on my lawn and kept them there snowfall after snowfall. As a result, my lawn has a bad case of "spring hat head". It is funny how spring yardwork can be so invigorating, when the same task becomes a chore a few months later. The blisters and the sore muscles are welcome when it means I can get outside with only a vest. It is also so satisfying to see those tufts of dead grass accumulate in the leaf pile and watch the new grass stand up ready to reach for the sun. Even my 4 year-old noticed this transformation while helping me today and told me, "Mommy, I love you for making our lawn look nice". Really-she said this!
When you have a big lawn like I do, there is also lots of time to think about thatch (and whether you really need to have such a big lawn that takes so long to rake!). So I decided to look up this spring raking ritual to see how important it really was. Turns out it is more than just an excuse to get outside. I think it is pretty obvious that matted down leaves aren't good from healthy grass growth. From what I read, thatch (if too thick, over 1 1/2 inches) also prevents water and nutrients from getting down to the soil and grass roots. Too much thatch can be a sign of over fertilizing. You can use a machine that does the job as well as the "Rakalaties" method. The coolest thing I read was that in a healthy lawn, the microoganisms and earthworms in the soil take care of the job for you and then give you free fertilizer! They munch it up and decompose it and turn it back into nutrients that your lawn needs. Once again, Mother Nature does a better job and takes things full circle.