Veteran field builder Grove Teates, president of Alpine Services, Inc., urges turf managers to think outside the box regarding removing thatch:
Some athletic field managers wish that they had a thatch problem—it would mean that their grass is thick enough to have thatch!
Most people think of only several ways to remove thatch; most of these ways are labor intensive and somewhat slow unless they have big budgets and expensive equipment. Hence, most people do not remove thatch as often as they would really desire and their fields show it.
Think outside the box: what machine is readily available for rent and will remove 7’-8’wide swaths of thatch at a pass? Live dangerously and try a street broom with a rotary brush!
The brush will easily remove the thatch if the operator holds it up and allows only the tips of the broom to hit the surface. The loose material is windrowed for easy pickup and a field can be cleaned quickly. It may be used in a similar manner to remove acorns, walnuts, etc.
This seems strange, a street broom is not a turf tool, but thinking outside the box allows one to quickly clean a field. There is a small learning curve regarding the travel speed of the machine vs. the engine speed and brush RPM. Two or three windrows may be rolled together to make removal easier. The windrows may be carefully scooped with a light tractor with front bucket or hand removed; the broom will groom the area under the windrow after removal to make the appearance consistent with the other areas of the field.
In the event that a field is flooded and silt is left on the turf, the same type broom may be used to sweep the silt out of the grass. This has been done successfully, even though the silt was 4” deep over the grass. The power broom will leave the grass intact while making the silt removal much easier.
We can make our job easier by thinking outside the box and by using non-turf equipment to make our turf jobs easier. Think about it!