Vertimowing is a term used to describe the dethatching process for lawns. The process is designed to remove the old dead layer of thatch from lawns, so that the lawn can regenerate itself while controlling the build up of thatch at its base.
Lawn thatch is usually made up both living and dead above ground runners (stolons), other organic matter, clippings etc. This thatch layer will continue to increase over time, making the lawn spongy to walk on, while causing the lawn to be scalped. So the vertimowing process to remove this thatch layer is very beneficial for many lawn types, especially Couch, and often Kikuyu, less so for Zoysia and Queensland Blue.
However, buffalo grass is very different, and responds very differently to vertimowing due to the way it grows its thatch layer. So lets take a look at buffalo grass and vertimowing.
Vertimowing Buffalo Grass
The thick thatch layer of buffalo is a well known trait. The above ground runners keep building up and up, slowly increasing the height of the lawn.
However, unlike all the lawns just previously mentioned, 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.
We can see that vertimowing buffalo grass is very very risky.
So Can Buffalo Grass Be Vertimowed
In theory, yes buffalo grass can be vertimowed, however it would need to be done very regularly before the thatch layer ever increased 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.
For the slightest mistake in removing too much of the top layer of buffalo grass, and the entire lawn could easily die, being unable to repair itself from dethatching.
Which is why many operators refuse to vertimow buffalo grass!
And why we recommend the homeowner never attempt dethatching buffalo grass themselves.
Some operators will vertimow buffalo after inspection of the lawn, but be prepared that such contractors will be rare and hard to find.
As we said, vertimowing buffalo grass is very risky, and the responsibility and accountability for any damage to the lawn, or even its eventual death as a result should be borne by the homeowner themselves, and as they will be duly advised by the contractor.
Other Options To Dethatch Buffalo Grass
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.
For people considering buying a new buffalo lawn, then it would be strongly advisable to forget what the big grass companies say when they are trying to sell more of their own grass brand, and instead check out our buffalo reviews based on scientific research to find the buffalo grass brand which is least likely to thatch.
We should also remember that buffalo grass is a grass best suited to shade and not full sun. The more direct sunlight a buffalo lawn receives each day - the more thatch it grows at a faster rate, and as shade increases over buffalo grass - so too does the growth rate and height of its thatch layer.
Cutting back the buffalo once a year in Spring can aid in reducing thatch -we have an article on this site about the process.
And finally, regular lawn coring can also be an option to reduce thatch in buffalo grass. While most certainly not the best, nor often even an adequate solution to fully dealing with the problem of removing buffalo thatch. Lawn coring can be another tool to aid in the overall process of controlling and removing thatch in buffalo grass lawns, while simultaneously helping to increase the health of the turf itself.