The Q&A Archives: Homemade Thatch Decomposer

Question: I once saw a tv program that told about a mixture you put on your lawn to help speed thatch decomposing. It was beer, Coke,ammonia and something else. I don't remember the last ingredient. Would you be able to tell me the last ingredient?

Answer: I'm sorry, but I'm not familiar with that formula. Are you sure you have a thatch problem? Up to about a half inch of thatch is not a problem; more than that can indeed impact air, water, and nutrient movement to the plants. Overfertilization, frequent shallow watering, improper soil pH, soil compaction, and excessive use of pesticides all contribute to thatch problems. You'll want to address exactly what is causing your thatch problem.

Since soil microorganism are, in part, responsible for breaking down organic matter and controlling thatch, I would be cautious using anything that might harm them. Straight ammonia, for example, might damage the organisms. Other ways to improve a thatch problem include aerating the soil and using a thatch rake or dethatcher (a gas-powered machine available at rental shops). I would concentrate on building a healthy soil environment for microorganisms to control your thatch problems.

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