I get quite a few customers who are concerned with (what they perceive as) excess thatch in the lawn, and who ask me if their lawn needs to be power-raked and/or manually dethatched.

The truth is, every lawn needs a certain amount of thatch, and if you use my homemade liquid dethatcher recipe listed below, you will NEVER have a thatch problem in your lawn.

The Truth about Lawn Thatch

Thatch buildup in NOT the result of leaving clippings on the lawn.

…let me say that again. Leaving clippings on your lawn WILL NOT cause thatch to build up. In fact, when combined with a safe, organic homemade liquid dethatching recipe (also known as a “lawn tonic”), mulched-up grass clippings left on your lawn will actually reduce the amount of thatch.

The reason being that – as the clippings decompose – they also speed along the decomposition of old roots and rhizomes.

Thatch is simply the result of a buildup of old grass roots and rhizomes.

Different species of grass (such as Zoysia, Centipede, Bermuda, and Buffalo grasses) produce this natural thatch faster than other grass species, but all grasses produce their own natural thatch.

Some thatch is both good AND necessary

Believe it or not, regardless of the type of lawn you have, some thatch is necessary for its long-term health.

A healthy amount of thatch can (especially in warmer-climates) insulate and keep your soil cool, slow water loss, and cushion your lawn to improve its tolerance to heavy foot traffic (i.e. from kids and pets).

So…the best way to take care of thatch, and insure you have just the right amount of it, is to let nature do its thing by breaking it down naturally.

To do that, simply mix up the following recipe, and apply it using a 20 gallon lawn sprayer (don’t worry, it’s not as big as it sounds) every 30 days or so (a little more frequently in hot weather):

Southern Lawn Man’s

Homemade Liquid Dethatcher

  1. 1 can of dark beer (Guinness, etc)
  2. 1/2 cup Dawn liquid dish soap (NEVER, EVER use anti-bacterial dish soap in this recipe)
  3. 1 cup full-sugar (non-diet!) cola
  4. 1/2 cup dark molasses
  5. 1/2 cup of mouthwash (I prefer regular Scope)

Pour all ingredients into a 20 Gallon Lawn Sprayer and spray on your lawn until all the ingredients are expended (as this is 100% natural, you cannot spray too much or harm your lawn with it).

How it Works:

The nutrients and sugars in the beer, cola, and molasses provide all the beneficial bugs and bacteria something to feast on, which – when mixed with all the plant matter contained in your lawn’s natural thatch – gives them just the right mix of things to keep them working on breaking down that thatch.

The liquid dish soap is a kind of “wetting agent” and allows the penetrate right down to root level, to maximize bacterial activity.

The mouthwash (believe it or not) naturally interrupts the biological processes of harmful insects (especially grubs), causing them to die off.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: DO NOT USE antibacterial dish soap, as it will kill off the beneficial bacteria you are trying to promote in your lawn.

Proof is in the puddin’

Homemade Liquid DethatcherBefore any of you naysayers out there think this might not work, here is MY Zoysia Lawn. My lawn has NEVER been power raked (if you know anything about Zoysia, you know it is notorious for thatch build-up…a problem I have never had).

I spray my homemade liquid dethatcher on the lawn after the first cut of every month, and let nature do the rest. I should also note that this lawn has never seen any chemical fertilizers either, just a straight diet of Milorganite.

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