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Essentially, vertimowing is the process of dethatching lawns. It’s designed to remove the layer of dead thatch from lawns so that it has the opportunity to regenerate. It’s important to firstly understand that lawn thatch is usually made up of both living and dead stolons (above ground runners) and other organic matter. The layer of thatch will continue to increase over time causing the lawn to feel spongy to walk on. Vertimowing will remove this thatch layer and is beneficial to lawns such as Couch and Kikuyu and to a lesser extent, Zoysia and Queensland Blue.

Buffalo grass such as Sir Walter is a very different matter and this variety of lawn will respond very differently to vertimowing. The thick thatch layer of buffalo is a well-known fact. The above ground runners keep building up and up, slowly increasing the height of the lawn. However, unlike other lawn varieties, Buffalo grass is very different from all of them in that Buffalo grass doesn’t have below ground runners called rhizomes. During the vertimowing process, much of the repair to regrow the turf is left up to the rhizomes below the ground, and without these below ground runners – Buffalo simply cannot regrow and repair itself after vertimowing like other lawn types can. So in removing most of the thatch layer of buffalo grass – we are also removing the only possibility of the buffalo lawn surviving and repairing itself after vertimowing. In theory, Sir Walter can be vertimowed, however it would need to be done very regularly before the thatch layer ever increases in thickness too much. And even then, the operator of the vertimowing machine would need to be very careful and very experienced in his practice.

During the dethatching process, the slightest mistake in removing too much of the top layer of Sir Walter could easily see the entire lawn die from being unable to repair itself. Thatch is a major problem for all buffalo grasses, even the new ones. So as buffalo lawn owners, we must always be aware of the thatch issue and to try and work around these things whenever possible. Regular lawn coring or aerating can also be an option to reduce thatch in buffalo grass. However it is most certainly not the best, nor often even an adequate solution to fully dealing with the problem of removing thatch from Sir Walter lawns.

For more information on Sir Walter just contact the team at Daleys Turf, supporting you for the life of your lawn.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Thank you for your advice on verticutting, but what is the best way to get rid of all of the runners?
    I have a narrow side yard that does not have any runners at all, and is really healthy, but my whole front yard has been thick with visible runners since the day it was laid 3 years ago.
    I am constantly pulling them out but I just can’t seen to get on top of them.

    1. Hi Tim, generally we will lower our mower height 1 or 2 notches every spring, and will pass over the lawn 2 or 3 times, each time it will take a little more off and also remove more exposed runners. Your soil and conditions seem to effect the turf resulting in more exposed runners we call it ‘porpoising’.

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