April 2, 2014

Dangers of a Power Rake

Power raking was was very popular back when I was young and the lawn mowers only discharged the clippings out the side of the deck (pre baggers).  In the fall of the year there would be an inch of dried lawn clippings that had never decayed.  If these clippings were not raked out the winter would turn this layer into an impenetrable mat. Have you ever used lawn clippings to keep the weeds down in a flowerbed or garden? If you did, you probably only used one or two weeks worth of clippings.  Back then the clippings accumulated for 20-30 mowings.  Get the picture? 

In the fall homeowners would dethatch their lawn after the turf went dormant, after the lawn turned brown.  By power raking in the late fall it would lift out all the psudo-thatch (lawn clippings and dead plants) prep the soils surface that would allow new grass shoots to rise up through the soil in the spring.  That same day they would apply a granular Winterizer Fertilizer and begin to water it in.  This feeding would offer the lawn enough food to repair the damage caused by the power rake and prepare it for the winter.  By the following spring the lawn would green up on its own so the first application of fertilizer (starter fertilizer) applied in the spring would help the plant to drive down deep roots that would allow for better usage of water.  In the spring there is only enough time to repair damaged roots or promote deep rooting, not both. 

Power Raking after Grass Greens Up is BAD
Fast forward to 2014.  In our area the soil pH is very high. organic matter is slim and soil microbe populations in the soil are very low.  Companies that apply liquid lawn fertilizer or high volumes of liquid weed killers also contribute to the decrease in microbe population.  Homeowners with shallower root systems water like mad to keep everything green.  If you bag your lawn clippings, good for you.  The biggest lie about mulching lawn mowers is that if you mulch, you can disregard one application of fertilizer each year. False!  What they don't tell you is that you are contributing to the thatch build up because the low microbe population can't possibly breakdown this much biomass each week.  Also, microbes live in the soil and the mulched clippings or even old dead leaves and plants are wilted onto a mat of dead clippings, insulating them from the soil microbes!

Over my 30 year career, I have witnessed the rise of lawn diseases, shallow roots and weeds that love areas tilled up by a power rake.  The need for increase in water during the summer is proportional to the increase of poweraking in the spring.  The chances that you will have a Grub infestation, crabgrass or lawn disease is about 90%. Of course, Green Turf Lawnscapes customers receive the proper quality, quantity and  quantification to make their neighbors Green with Envy. 

 A Power rake only has my blessing in late November ,every 10 years or in the event the lawn needs to be totally renovated and reseeded.  For a happy and healthy lawn, get the lawn mowed extremely short and aerate it in the spring.  You will have less weeds, bugs and crud to deal with this summer and more money in your pocket due to a smaller water bill.

Until Next time,

   Let Us Put You ... In the Green