York – posted 14 May 2004 10:04
Verti-cutting can improve all Florida lawns. Much information on the timing, and how Verti-cutting of St.Augustine lawns should be done, is wrong. If you view the photo on the University of Florida web site ( on verticutting) what’s left of your lawn will be the growth of weeds.Verti-cutting is so misunderstood. Myself along with 2 other professionals and over 60 years in the Horticultural Industry, plus years of school and hundreds of hours of Verti-cutting are saddened by the lack of know how in the Tampabay area and what is published on the UF web site.
cohiba – posted 14 May 2004 11:06
York, I have’t seen the website yet but will look into it. I verticut bentgrass greens in NJ and I am intrested in what you have to say. So you know: We verticut when turf is actively growing, temperatures and moisture are conducive to good recovery, and fertlizer has been applied. We have two ways we verticut: 1) deep, into the soil, to remove thatch. This is done very infrequently. I have done this once in the last three years. 2) Lightly, “tickling” of the turf to promote horizontal growth and to stimulate the plant. We verticut and then mow the debris. 4-5 times per season. Sometimes a light topdressing of sand and peat will be applied to help control the thatch.
So, am I on the right track?
Let me Know……..
York – posted 14 May 2004 16:04
quote:Originally posted by cohiba:York, I have’t seen the website yet but will look into it. I verticut bentgrass greens in NJ and I am intrested in what you have to say. So you know: We verticut when turf is actively growing, temperatures and moisture are conducive to good recovery, and fertlizer has been applied. We have two ways we verticut: 1) deep, into the soil, to remove thatch. This is done very infrequently. I have done this once in the last three years. 2) Lightly, “tickling” of the turf to promote horizontal growth and to stimulate the plant. We verticut and then mow the debris. 4-5 times per season. Sometimes a light topdressing of sand and peat will be applied to help control the thatch.
So, am I on the right track?
Let me Know……..
York – posted 14 May 2004 16:04
Cohiba,Ok, Im a little rusty with Bent grass, moved here from N.Y. in 1971. But as I remember its similar to Bermuda. Bermuda is used here for golf greens here. Now not being a golf course guy, I believe they verti-cutt twice a year. Sounds like youre on the right track. What is your blade spacing? I believe you will have better turf by verti-cutting more often, because you are removing thatch, and allowing the turf to breathe better. It should actually need less water after the first week. or two. Please explain to me the reason for top dressing.Here they overfeed and over water St. Augustine, it likes to grow on top of itself, and can easily be ruined if not verti-cutt properly.ThanxYork
ted – posted 14 May 2004 21:38
there’s alot of research out there that says that dethatching is bad for st. augustine. makes it difficult to recover from st. aug. decline, etc. i always dethatch mine before overseeding in the winter and didn’t have any problem. see the texas a & m site for more info.
cohiba – posted 15 May 2004 06:33
York,Primariliy we topdress with a sand and peat mix(90/10)to smoothe out and help with ball roll on putting greens. A super light topdressing increases green speed. We have also found that it brings microbial activity to the surface and therefore helps to reduce thatch. The verticut units are attachments used on our greensmower that have a spacing about 1/2 to 3/4″. We can adjust the depth to go above or below the surface about 1/4″if needed.
York – posted 15 May 2004 10:09
Ted,I found this question on PLANTanswers.com. My answer below it.
QuestionI have a St Augustine lawn in Dallas, and the previous owner mulched the grass back into the lawn. What I have now is four plus inches of dead grass sitting between the top grass and the soil. I’ve tried thrashing with a rake, but it’s too large of a job. My Internet research gave me a term called Verticutting, but I couldn’t find a definition or a how to. What can you tell me about this practice? Also, I have a sprinkler system, and use Scott’s fertilizer programs four times a year. The summer heat is a problem, and I am battling some broadleaf weeds that just won’t go away. AnswerVerticutting is used to remove thatch. Verticutting is the cutting/slicing of the “four plus inches of dead grass sitting between the top grass and the soil” by using a lawn mower-size machine which has blades which spin in a vertical direction rather than horizontally as a lawn mower does. These machines can be rented and this process is usually recommended in early spring after all danger of frost has passed. The depth of the blade penetration can be controlled and must not scalp all of the St. Augustine grass from the soil surface. Because bermuda has underground stems, complete removal when using a verticutter is not as likely as it is when verticutting St. Augustine turf. Aerification using a plug-aerifer (also a machine which can be rented) alleviates soil compactions; promotes a deeper, morevigorous root system; and assists in the decomposition of the that chlayer. Dr. James McAfee adds:The four inches of thatch in your lawn is more likely the result of applying too much nitrogen fertilizer and not from returning the grassclippings. Apply 3 to 4 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 squarefeet per year. This can be accomplished in three or four ferilizer applications during the growing season. Use a fertilizer source that has at least 50 per cent slow release nitrogen. The Scott’s product is a good source of slow release nitrogen. Dethatching or vertical mowing should be done in late spring to earlysummer. When you rent a vertical mower, make sure the blades are set at a 2 to 3 inch width. Most vertical mowers have their blades set at 0.5 inches and this will tear out too much of the St. Augustines tolons (runners). Mark your irrigation heads prior to dethatching. While you shouldn’t hit the heads when dethatching, you could do some damage to the irrigation heads if you happen to hit one of them with the vertical mower blades. Mowing at the proper height and frequency should help to control alot of the broad leaf weeds. Mow at 2 to 2.5 inches at least once per week. If you could mow every 4 to 5 days during peak growth periods this would be even better. For broadleaf weeds, spot treat with one of the postemergent broadleaf weed herbicides such as Weed-B-Gon. James McAfee, TurfSpecialist, Texas Agricultural Extension Service Ted,Now as I stated in my first article, I am saddened by the lack of information on the Verti-cutting of St. Augustine grasses and through this web site Ive found its not just in Florida. First we have Extension Agent telling some one to use Weed B Gon on St. Augustine grass? You never use a weed control with 2-4-D on St. Augustine grasses.Second Verti-cutting with blades set at 2-3 inches will certainly remove your lawn; you wont need the Weed B Gon, to kill it. Go to the photo on the UF web siteThatch and Its Control in Florida Lawns and you will see what happens when verti-cutting is done wrong. If you use this gentlemens advise, you will need a dump truck to haul away your lawn.Third I believe Verti-cutting should not be done by a amanuterFourth I would be surprised if you could rent a real Verti-cutting machine, like a Ryan Mataway. These machines weight around 300 lbs. And take a lot of experience to handle, they will do lots of damage.Fifth please use this link to see a real Verti-cutter and a good photo of one way a lawn should look when Verti-cutt, even though its not St. Augustine. http://www.alamia.com/index.asp?PG=80&ID=529&VSP=1Also, all the research say grass clipping to not increase thatch, see UF web site.Now if you are overwhelmed by all this and can not find a professional, who will not destroy your lawn, I have a answer.ThanxYorkAlso when a St. Augustine lawn is propertly Verti-cutt, St. Augustine decline, is not a problem.
ted – posted 15 May 2004 16:07
i think the issue is centered around the ability of the st. aug. to regrow itself after the s.a.d., much in the same way that you don’t use plant growth regulators on st.augustine. As for Jim McAfee, he was one of the original he was one of the original executives in Chemlawn. ( not Trugreen-Chemlawn) He’s a Doctorate level degree kind of guy, and along with James Beard, wrote “the book” on Texas Turfgrass. I know this because he has worked as a consultant for my company. Also, you absolutely do use 24d on St Aug. lawns in the cooler months of the year. Every major chemical lawn care company uses it on their first aps of the year. Alot of folks on this board assume that whatever works in Maine, will also work in Arizona, and it’s just not the case. Texas is a very diverse state, with widely ranging environmental conditions from Florida.
York – posted 20 May 2004 09:36
Ted,Sorry I havent responded sooner, I have been working on my new web site www.whyverticutt.com.First – I need to know the temperature changes in your state, where St. Augustine grasses grow?
Second why is 2-4-D used instead of Atrazine.
Third I am suspect of Chemlawn? Recently I was told by a Chemlawn spray technician, you cant verticutt that lawn now? That was in Feb., temperature 50-70s. Chemlawn/Trugreen has been recommending coring of lawns here in central Florida. While Chemlawn/Trugreen pours on the Fertilizers, explained on my site www.whyverticutt.com, coring, first is not recommended by the Extension Service, we believe they have no real understanding of the value of Verti-cutting or how its done properly.
Forth I will issue a open challenge to Chemlawn/Trugreen to prove what value, coring has or adds to St. Augustine lawns in central Florida, over verti-cuttting. Over 90% of the lawns here are sand based.
Fifth My understanding of St. Augustine grasses, is they are a warm season grasses and grow the same, here or in Texas. Other than Sad virus, I would be interested to know why the problems are not the same.
[This message has been edited by York (edited 20 May 2004).]
ted – posted 20 May 2004 14:39
Something told me you had something to sell…
24d is used early in the season in some texas markets for broadleaf weed control, you have to apply it before temps warm up too much. you can, however, use it more say in Dallas, where the main turfgrass is bermuda.
The original Chemlawn was a wonderful company full of legit research, and they pioneered alot of the techniques that are used today. TruGreen /Chemlawn, on the other hand, is primarily a “telemarketing company that happens to be in the lawn care business” per their own admission. I would not base any of my research on what a lawn tech would say in any company.
Texas is an extremely diverse state, with every possible grass growing at one time or another, so you can’t make blanket statements about different techniques, it’s just too big.
Florida, on the other hand, is a completely different animal- you have a longer growing season than Texas ( particularly in South Florida) and different weeds, diseases. Definitely not in the mainstream as far as lawn management goes.
If you’ll read my original post again, you will note that I’m not an opponent of dethatching any lawn, just pointing out some of the research that has been done.