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How To Dethatch Your Lawn

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Dethatching Machines Tools Techniques


Dethatching machines come in various forms. And although some lawn services and rental companies use the terms interchangeably, the machines perform dethatching by different means, with varying levels of intensity.

Here are some of the most common dethatching techniques, and the power dethatchers that perform them. What they have in common are spinning metal pieces that pierce and lift the thatch from the lawn. Some employ slicers, others metal tines . Some are stand-alone, powered units, others are made to be dragged behind a tractor or riding mower.

How To Seed The Lawn

Read the grass seed label and make sure that to have chosen the right product for your lawn. Pick a blend that contains two more cultivars of the same species, like fescue. It will help enhance the appearance of your lawn.

Here are some tips on growing grass seeds for your lawn-

  • Mow the grass lower than you usually do.
  • Dethatch the lawn and aerate it. Sprinkle fertilizer over the lawn, if required.
  • Take a spreader or a broadcast to apply the seeds.
  • Rake the seeds properly.
  • Water regularly.

Preventing Thatch Buildup From Returning

Keeping the thatch from building up so fast can keep your lawn looking better longer. It will also keep you from having to rip and tear at it with dangerous machines.

Know that some of the most-popular grass species are the most likely to have thatch. Kentucky bluegrass, for example, grows aggressively and quickly establishes itself. People love it for that reason, but it also means bluegrass produces more thatch.

Those are best for areas that see a lot of foot traffic, like sports fields. Choosing or mixing in some perennial ryegrass or tall fescue will cut down on thatch production in your lawn.

Test your soil periodically for its nutrient levels and acidity. Find out how much lime you need to keep those levels where theyll promote healthy lawn growth and microbial populations that break down thatch.

Good watering and mowing techniques, and proper fertilization can also hold down thatch. Make sure not to set your lawn mower too low, and dont fertilize too heavily, which helps thatch build up rapidly.

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How To: Dethatch Lawns

Thatch is a dense layer of dead and living organic material that forms between grass blades and the soil and roots. When it gets too thick, thatch can impede the penetration of water, air and nutrients, stressing the lawn. If your lawn feels spongy when you walk on it, it probably has a thick layer of thatch. You can check by removing a small section of sod with a shovel.

When a thatch layer is more than ½ inch thick, it’s probably time to dethatch. You have three options: remove thatch manually, rent equipment or hire a professional lawn care service. Also realize that a dethatcher tears up a lot of material that is difficult to rake up and must be disposed of.

Manual Removal

For small lawns or thatch less than 1 inch thick, consider removing thatch with a rake. Doing the job manually causes the least amount of stress to a lawn. A rake with hard tines may or may not work effectively to pull thatch to the soil surface.

A specialized dethatching rake has sharpened tines designed to lift thatch away from soil. With this type of rake, use the same motion as with a traditional rake, allowing tines to dig into thatch and pulling it upward to loosen and lift thatch. Done correctly, you should feel the thatch separating from soil and see it being lifted to the lawn surface.

Rent Equipment

Hire A Professional

Practical Tips

When To Dethatch Your Lawn

Warm-Season Turf

  • Buffalo Grass
  • Centipedegrass

After Dethatching Your Lawn

Why, When and How to Dethatch your Lawn

Dethatching can be incredibly stressful on a lawn and may pull up large amounts of grass along with the thatch. If your lawn is dying because of thick thatch, dethatching may be your only option. However, after a significant dethatching process, you will need to repair your lawn. This may mean overseeding or even laying down new sod.

Once youve repaired your lawn, it is time to develop a plan to avoid thatch buildup in the future. Thatch is often exacerbated by compact soil, so an annual aerating plan is a good place to start. Keeping soil loose and giving your turf roots access to air, water, nutrients will help their roots grow deep into the soil.

It is also a good idea to test your soil every three to four years to determine its pH and calibrate how much nitrogen fertilizer you need to give your lawn. By maintaining a healthy pH, you provide the microbes in the soil the best chance at keeping down thatch. And avoiding over-fertilizing will also help prevent thatch buildup.

Finally, adding hummus or other high-quality organic material to your lawn is a great way to introduce more of the helpful microbes that break down thatch and keep it from getting out of hand.

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Don’t Want To Use A Rake

One option you have is to change the height of your mower. If the thatch is very thick, you may have to gradually lower it down over time. The height you set the mover to will depend on the type of grass you have.

If you dont want to use a rake, you might want to consider a power rake. This does have an engine so it will require gasoline for it to run. This is a powered machine which is not self-propelled but can work great for larger lawns where using a rake is not appropriate. It will bring up a lot of the thatch and debris in your yard but you will need to go around after with your mower or a rake to pick it all up.

How Core Aeration Can Be Used To Remove Thatch From A Lawn

Mechanical core aerators typically pull ¾ wide plugs out of the ground that are between 3-6 inches in depth. Most quality core aerators have tines that can be swapped out for your desired result but the takeaway here is that cores pulled will extend through the entirety of even the worst thatch layers and into the underlying soil.

This is beneficial because it introduces the most air and moisture into and below the thatch layer creating the aerobic environment necessary to decompose thatch efficiently.

Not only do cores help create the perfect environment for decomposition of thatch but they also physically remove a portion of the thatch without ripping up all the grass and root systems in the lawn.

A single soil core pulled that is ¾ wide is removing the same surface area of thatchcompletely. If you were to pull the recommended 24 cores per square foot then a single core aeration session can remove roughly 7.5% of all thatch from your lawn in a single day!

Which leads me to my next point. All of these techniques can manage and remove thatch from a lawn but when they are all done together they work much faster and more efficiently. Its the prime example of 1+1=3.

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When To Aerate The Lawn

The best time for aerating is the same as for dethatching the lawn, i.e., late spring or early summer for warm-season grasses, and early spring or fall for the cool-season grasses. If your lawn receives heavy traffic, and the soil is heavy clayey, aerate every year. However, if the soil is sandy, and the lawn is growing properly, you can aerate every 2-3 years.

When Should I Power Rake

How To Dethatch A Lawn

For cool season grasses, power raking is recommended in early fall or spring. Warm season grasses are better power raked in late spring to early summer. Because power raking does damage some healthy grass, it is important to power rake with enough growing season left for your lawn to recover. At least 30 days of growing season should be available following power raking for successful results.

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What Is Thatch And How Much Is Too Much

Over time, pieces of grass die and gather just above the soil, and these pieces are known as thatch, explains Scotts Miracle-Gro turf grass scientist Dr. Phil Dwyer.

In small amounts, thatch can actually help your lawn by insulating it from extreme temperatures, keeping much-needed moisture in the soil, and providing an extra layer of protection when your in-laws come over with their huge dogs .

Essentially, you will want to consider a dethatch if you notice your grass is struggling to grow, or if you have a half-inch or more of the stuff covering your lawn.

A half-inch or more of thatch can cause grass to suffer, because air, water, and nutrients arent able to move freely into and through the soil, and therefore, not reach the roots, Dwyer explains.

Keep in mind that sometimes, lawns will break down the accumulation of thatch naturally.

Lawns growing on good soil and that are properly fed may never have a thatch buildup, Dwyer says.

Thatch becomes a concern when the buildup happens too quickly.

What Is The Best Way To Dethatch

According to the Ohio State University power dethatchers and power rakes work very well. Dethaching attachments for lawn mowers do not work. The best way to reduce thatch down is to perform core aeration. Core aeration also has the benefit of improving soil structure, solving two problems at once. Core aeration in clay soil really only works in spring when the soil is moist. By fall it can be difficult to get the machines to go deep enough to get a good sized plug.


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How To Prep For Dethatching Your Lawn

  • Dethatch when your soil is moist but not soggy, so water your lawn thoroughly two days before you plan to dethatch.

  • If youre using a dethatching machine, be sure to mark any shallow irrigation lines, sprinkler heads or buried utility lines before starting.

  • Mow your lawn to half its normal height before dethatching.

  • If you are renting a dethatching machine, ask the rental agency to adjust the spacing and cutting depth for your grass type. The blades or tines should be set to cut no deeper than 1/2 inch into the soil. And get detailed directions on how to use the machine. Keep in mind dethatching machines can be heavy, so transport it on a truck or large van and enlist a buddy to help you load and unload it.

Fall Is The Best Time To Dethatch Your Lawn

Benefits of Dethatching and Aerating Your Lawn

Keeping your lawn lush and green is all about timing. There are plenty of techniques you can use to help create a healthy lawn, but most of their usefulness is dependent on the time you apply them.

One question we commonly receive is when the best time to dethatch your lawn is, late spring or early fall?

Dethatching is a necessary part of lawn maintenance because it allows for your lawn to gather the necessary nutrients for continued growth. Thatch is the grass and other debris that builds up on the soil beneath your grass and can often act as its own source of nutrients. If left for too long, it can harm the growth of your lawn.

Dethatching is simply the removal of this excess debris from your lawn to allow for more moisture and easier access for nutrients to your roots.

Hometurf offers dethatching services for as low as $99.95 using equipment and methods that present the least possible risk to your lawn. We also clean up the excess material left after dethatching.

As for when you should schedule dethatching, both late spring and early fall can work, but we find late fall to be the most effective.

Late fall is usually when the most amount of debris has built up at the base of your lawn, at a time when your lawn needs to gather as many nutrients as possible. By dethatching at this time, youre allowing for your lawn to get as healthy as possible before winter so it can bounce back quickly in the spring.


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Determine If The Lawn Needs Dethatching

If water runs off without penetrating the grass, then it may be time to dethatch the lawn. Thatch is a thin layer of organic debris that forms between the leaf blades and roots. Examine your grass for an underlying layer of thatch. It will look like a matting of old, grayish-brown grass stems that have grown together.

A thin layer of thatch provides insulation against temperature extremes and fluctuations in soil moisture. However, if your lawn has more than one inch layer of thatch above the soil surface, the lawn needs to be dethatched.

Primary causes of thatch are over watering, over fertilizing and mowing too high. To help prevent thatch from forming, use a mulching mower.

How To Dethatch Aerate And Seed Your Lawn

Dethatching, aeration and seeding all these sound unpleasant things to do. However, if you have a dense layer of thatch, these are necessary things to accomplish a beautiful, healthy-looking lawn.

Here we are going to tell you steps on how to dethatch, aerate, and reseed your lawn to ensure that the grass grows in the best condition in the next spring.

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Hire A Specialised Dethatching Machine

You can also hire or purchase specialised dethatching machines that make light work of removing the thatch layer. This can be a good option if you have a large lawn, or if the thatch layer is especially thick and hasnt been tended to for a number of years.

For best results make sure you stick to the recommended cutting heights for your lawn type and follow the instructions provided by the hire company.

Should I Aerate Or Dethatch My Lawn First

How To Dethatch and Overseed a Lawn – Greenworks Dethatcher

Both aerating and dethatching are important practices when it comes to proper lawn care. It helps with root penetration and easy flow of air, water, and nutrients in the core for better root growth. So, should you aerate or dethatch?

If your soil is healthy with enough microbial activity, you may only need to dethatch once a season and probably aerate once or twice a year depending on the type of soil you have.

If youre growing grass in sandy soil, youll need to aerate just once per season, but if it is clay soil, twice a season may be the best option for you.

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Dethatching Your Lawn In Fall

Excess thatch in the lawn can really do some damage to the overall look and health of your grass. Although the dethatching process is relatively straightforward, its important to remove thatch at the right time to avoid damaging the lawn even further. Heres a quick guide to dethatching your lawn in the fall.

What Is Thatch?

Thatch is simply a layer of rhizomes and grass roots that clump up over time. Contrary to popular belief, thatch is not caused by excess grass clippings. All grass develops some thatch, though thatch accumulates at different rates depending on the type of grass. Although its good to remove excess thatch, a small portion of thatch is actually healthy for the lawn. You have a thatch problem when the layer is thicker than half an inch and water is having trouble getting to the grass roots.

Fall Dethatching

Fall is actually one of the best times to dethatch your lawn because there is plenty of time for the grass to recover. Its always recommended to dethatch when the soil is fairly moist and the grass is actively growing. Dethatching at the wrong time can significantly damage your lawn because it will not have proper time to recover.

Dethatching Tools

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When To Vertical Mow

The best time for vertical mowing is usually between late August and early October, depending on your location, because grass is growing vigorously then and should recover quickly from any damage. In addition, few weed seeds germinate at that time. A light application of fertilizer and regular watering will speed the lawns recovery after vertical mowing.

Sam Bauer, Extension educator, Deborah Brown and Don Taylor

Reviewed in 2018

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Go Easy On The Fertilizer

Nitrogen aids in the necessary growth of your roots and grass leaves, but too much of it can also cause thatch to grow too quickly. As your grass breaks down, it adds to the thatch layer, growing it faster than it can deteriorate.

If youre concerned about thatch, choose a fertilizer with a lower nitrogen percentage or only fertilize when absolutely necessary.

Dethatch Or Aerate Before Overseeding

Dethatching The Lawn #dethatching #grass #lawncare # ...

Both aerating and dethatching are recommended before overseeding because they improve grass-to-soil contact for proper germination. In most cases, youll only need to dethatch to remove the debris that is covering the soil and preventing grass seed from germinating properly.

However, if you have compacted soil in your lawn, you may want to aerate the core to allow deeper penetration of water into the soil. Deeply and well-watered soil promotes healthy and deeper root development of the new grass seed.

After overseeding, topdress the area with about 1 yard of compost per 1000 square feet to increase the rate of grass seed germination in your lawn.

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Dethatching With A Power Rake

Power rakes are similar to walk-behind lawn mowers and have rotating tines that slice into the grass/turf. These tines dig into the thatch and go all the way into the soil to pull pieces up and loosen/rake your lawn thatch, bringing it to the surface of your lawn.

These power rakes are mainly good for thin layers of thatch. Power rakes are not a great option for sensitive or young grass. You would want to use this on strong grass that you arent worried to rip out, and I usually recommend overseeding afterward.

Most people who use a power rake will rent a professional one from their local hardward store or box store, but you can purchase one if you know youll be detatching your lawn pretty regularly.

My Lawn Dethatcher Setup

I personally own this Greenworks Dethatcher, and it works really well. I dont like that its corded, but I own a Dewalt portable power station, so when its time to dethatch my yard I just strap that on top, and plug the Greenworks power rake right into that which makes it cord-free, running on my Dewalt batteries.

Im really happy with this set-up, but I probably wouldnt recommend the Greenworks Dethatcher to someone with a large yard who doesnt have a battery-powered generator setup like mine. Dragging a cord around a big yard can be frustrating.

If you have a small yard, the Greenworks tool is a great value and probably a better option than renting.

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