How to remove thatch


New Member
What's the best way to remove thatch? I'm not talking about the big fluffy hay type either.

Spike tooth harrow, landscape rake, hay rake? No disc

BRush hogged 2 acres a few weeks ago, the thatch is kinda compressed. I plan to spray gly in a week or 2 and will need to remove that also, but will that come up easy, or will it be like pulling root balls?
Tuff to answer without seeing the exact problem as well as the area surrounding the "problem patch" BUT ... out of your choices all would drive you nuts (just my opinion) except the possibility of windrowing it with a hay rake and burn when dry ASSUMING you can control the burn (again I cannot see your circumstances) ..I would also suggest that if you do not have the means to disc the future keep it mowed more often and keep the bushhog up off the ground somewhat so it will discharge evenly and not lay down a line of heavy dead debris that will take 6 months or more to decompose to the point of being able to work around it ..OR keep it burned down chemically so debris is not a factor (I really discourage constant chemical for ecology reasons as well as the loss to the of organic matter to your ground)

Spraying gly will of course kill most plant life if applied correctly ..but then you lost me on that coming out in clumps? ..You do not clearly state your end mission ..if it is to prepare the ground as a seed bed then depending on your soil type might be able to take your landscape rake a couple weeks after spraying and bring enough dirt to the surface ...then use your harrow to mix it up ...broadcast your seed and one pass the harrow again or use a drag like a landscape timber with a section of chain link fence attached ..again not sure of your main goal so just throwing out something to chew on

In the end ..if you are to stay in food ploting are going to need a disc

Don't landscape rake it. I made that mistake last week.

I would figure out a way to get a firebreak around it and burn it.
FIRE! Get a plow or tiller and cut a fire break at least a couple rows wide (twice as wide as you think you need - and then toss a match to it. Burn in small sections to keep control of it. Fill your sprayer with water to use as an emergency fire truck. If your spraying gly your killing everything there anyway so big deal. You can then spray in a week or two once everything that lived thru the fire greens up again and then hit it with your gly treatment and you should get a pretty good kill.
Can't burn in my county right now. Don't think I could burn on a pipeline, anyway?

I'm trying to clean it out to establish a clover, chicory, oats plot.

Was planning the throw and spray method, but as it is, I won't get seed to soil contact.

I was referring to it being clumpy, as if after I spray, will it pull out clean, or still rooty
It will not be fun. Can you mow it? If so I would be comfortable seeding before a good rain. I just did this exact thing with a plot. I didn't mow mine. I sprayed and let weeds germinate and then sprayed again and then seeded. The dead thatch was not super thick. Rain keeps dodging us now though. I took some pictures and was going to start a thread on it, just haven't had time.
I'm sure the seeds will sprout in the thatch with moisture, but getting roots established would seem to be the problem?

It has been mowed about a month ago. That's why I have the thatch now. Had to mow to get lime in, but still waiting for lime delivery lol
We had the same issue on a pasture that our neighbor gave us permission to plant. He had mowed it a couple weeks earlier and the thatch was bad. We spread our seed and lime onto the thatch and then went over the entire area with a brush hog again. It worked like a charm. The hog fluffed everything up and drove the seed to the bottom. It was a total success. Had pictures but lost them in a computer malfunction.
Id work on some way to get that thatch tight to the ground - maybe a roller - or another mowing. I disk multiple times when I have excess thatch and try to be patient while it breaks down with soil/ moisture contact. If I have a Heavy Grass field - I mow around Memorial day - then spray a week later - and sometimes spray again two weeks later. (then I disk and sometimes spray again) I realize that you cannot disk - but maybe you can mow again to chop up that dead decomposing thatch a little more to help decomposition -

2 weeks after mowing - 6/15 1st spray

1st disking on 7/17

sprayed again early August, oats spread and disked in on 8/13 - then rolled and clover planted then rolled again all 8/13
Need to be patient - it was a 10 week plan for me to best use that thatch for manure and to hold moisture in my plot when it did rain!


for me - that thatch is full of nutrients - and I want that back in my soil -
You are limited without a disk - but breaking it up and getting some rain on it is your best bet - that and time!
The soil will break down the thatch and the thatch will hold moisture which is often limiting for cool season plant emergence and establishment in late summer plantings. If concerned, double the recommended seeding rate, link together several old tires and drag the field a couple times to settle seed.....go on with life.
I have seeded on top of years and years of leaf matter after clearing an opening in the tree and some seed always seems to find a way. If you cannot burn and don't have a rake i would just throw it and roll it or run the mower back over the thatch.

Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
Maybe some pictures would help, but in many cases "thatch" is a desirable thing to have in a food plot. It's the feed stock for what will ultimately become organic matter, so why would you want to remove it? A layer of decomposing thatch is actually the GOAL for those of us on really sandy soils. :)
I wouldn't remove it. I'd plant into it and drag over it the opposite way that it lays. I planted a 1/2 acre plot like that last year and it did very well.
I agree with the let it rot down advice. The quality of your soil is the key to good plots. Organic matter is important to good soil. I have seeded into thatch and had good success, sometimes better then bare dirt. I know the feeling of wanting instant success and I have hurt my long term program by getting a quick crop at the expense of the soil. But now I know getting better soil is the key to good food plots. Good Luck.