Spring mold can be a problem with lawns

Thatching, power raking or detaching can be used to help improve lawn health.

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John Doehler, owner of Dakota Lawn Care, stands by some of the equipment he and his employees will be using for the upcoming yard work seasons.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

The owner of Dakota Lawn Care says most yards should be thatched every year or cleaned up with a good heavy raking with a leaf rake.

John Doehler says spring mold can create problems with lawns and it’s important to thatch them. Some molds are not bad but others can be more aggressive, he said. Dakota Lawn Care deals with 100 to 150 cases annually for clients and notes other businesses deal with it too.

Whoever deals with it, it’s important to do so, he said.

“You got to get that mold opened up so they breathe and deteriorate,” Doehler said. “If you don’t, you can lessen the growth of your yard, make it look … bad or you can even kill it in a worse scenario.”

Doehler said they see a lot of mold in lawns on the north and east side of homes. What happens on one side of the lawn may not occur on another due to conditions, he noted.


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A dethatcher is more aggressive at bringing dead grass to the surface of your lawn.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

People can determine if they have mold in their lawns, Doehler said. Look for where the grass is matted down and has turned to a white, gray or a bluish-gray color. If you find it and plan to deal with it, it’s important to rake it and “scratch” it well, he said, then pick up the diseased material and remove it. The grass should be disposed of and not used for mulch, he said. If there’s a lot of mold, power rake and dethatch.

If the thatch gets too heavy, it starts to get a lot of insects in it, such as ants, Doehler said.

“We start getting a lot of lawn bugs and they will go underneath the grass and they will eat it off right above the root and then your grass looks dead,” he said.

Dakota Lawn Care provides general lawn care, Doehler said. He said many people don’t realize that care could be thatching, power raking and dethatching. Each is different.

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A power rake is commonly used to loosen dead grass from the lawn.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

“Thatching is like raking your yard with a leaf rake,” he said. “It’s just a little more aggressive than that and it gets the top layer of the thatch out.”

Thatching is the least aggressive, power raking is more aggressive and dethatching is the most aggressive, he said. Power raking is more familiar to people and gets 50 to 60 percent of the thatch out, he said.

“We do a lot of what’s known as a dethatch,” Doehler said. “That’s for real bad cases in yards and we do a lot of that every year.”

Doehler said if people have a problem with weeds, they should consider thatching.


“The weed seeds will lay in the grass,” he said. “Weed seeds can lay in the grass for six years before it sprouts.”

If the thatch isn’t removed, the weeds can become worse.

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This image illustration shows the difference between the more aggressive dethatching method of removing dead grass from the lawn, left, as opposed to power raking on the right.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Doehler says Dakota Lawn Care has clients who get their yard dethatched to knock down ridges created by nightcrawlers in the lawn. The yard will be smoother with this work, he said, and sometimes it is done three times in a season.

Lawn tips

Doehler said in spring, people should put pelletized lime on their lawns, which helps with the health of the grass in the spring. It helps the lawn heal from any winter injuries and works against mold in the soil.

“We put a lot of that on every year,” he said.

Doehler says keeping the grass height longer helps during drought.

“You have to remember that the hotter it gets the longer the grass (is recommended),” he said. “Generally we mow it (to) 3 ½ inches.”

Doehler said when people mow their lawn to less than an inch and a half in length the grass will most likely burn and get damaged by the heat. And if people want a green lawn, they should make sure the yard is always moist, watering two to three times a week, he said. The amount of time to water depends upon the sprinkler being used and how much moisture it puts out, he said. He recommended people use a rain gauge when watering to know more accurately how much water is being put on the lawn.


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A power plugger is used to put holes in the ground which helps with soil aeration.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Doehler noted that later in the season, going into fall, the longer that cold, wet moisture lays on top of the ground, the more chance there will be for mold in the spring. If it warms up during winter and the ground temperature warms up, it gets worse, he said. A wet snow right away in the fall/winter season creates more problems, he said.

Dakota Lawn Care provides a number of services including mowing, power raking, dethatching, bagging, cleanup all year long, grass feeding, sod work, landscaping, shrub and tree trimming (under 20 feet) and spraying trees for Rhizosphaera needle cast and insects.

Kathy Steiner has been the editor of The Jamestown Sun since 1995. She graduated from Valley City State College with a bachelor's degree in English and studied mass communications at North Dakota State University, Fargo. She reports on business, government and community topics in the Jamestown area. Reach her at 701-952-8449 or
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