Dethatching Tools: What Youll Need
Like most lawn care tasks, there are both simple and more complex ways to go about dethatching your lawn. If you have a small propertyor are just detaching a small areamany of the manual tools below will work just fine. Power dethatchers, however, are always best for large lawns, especially if you want to save yourself some time and energy.
Lawns in need of a serious dethatching require professional care. Your local TruGreen team will have the tools and experience to remove thick thatch without damaging your existing turf.;
If youre planning to tackle the project yourself, here are some important tools for the task.
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.
Do Clippings Cause Thatch
Yes, clippings are a contributing factor to thatch development on a lawn. For most healthy lawns, light organic matter such as clippings will deteriorate before they have the ability to compound into visible thatch, however, the combination of too much clipping residue, alongside mulched leaves and other material, will become the foundation of thatch formation on your lawn.
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How To Use A Thatch Rake
When thatch does build up, there are a couple of ways to clear it out. But once its reached that point, it can require more than a regular raking.
Dont misunderstand; regular raking can help keep thatch at bay or even break it up. However, for tougher job, you need a special thatch rake to do the job. Although it looks like a bow rake, its longer prongs will dig into the thatch and tear it apart.
Pull the thatch rake toward you . Its best to always work in one direction to prevent damage to the roots of the grass.
You can gather up the thatch and compost it for use later as fertilizer.
Its also good to consider aerating your lawn after dethatching it as well the two work great together in helping produce healthier grass.
How Do I Know If I Need To Dethatch
If you have a serious thatch problem, it is usually evident just by walking on the lawn. If your lawn feels very springy and crunchy underfoot, you most likely have a thick layer of thatch lurking under the grass.The best way to test the thatch accumulation is to remove and inspect a plug from your lawn. Using a hand shovel, remove a 2-3 thick plug of sod. If upon examination you see more than ½ inch of spongy, dry brown material, its time to dethatch. Note that many warm-season grasses such as Zoysia, Bermuda, St. Augustine and Buffalo grass are particularly prone to thatch buildup.
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Aerate Or Spike Your Lawn
Aerate your lawn. Lawn aeration is a perfect solution for soil compaction. For moderately compacted soil in a limited area, systematically prick holes in the soil with a spading or digging fork. Holes should be 2″ to 3″ apart and 1″ to 2″ deep. If you’re dealing with a larger area or you want to make the task easier, there are several types of push spike aerators you can rent or purchase. Some models look a little like a manual push mower with spikes or star-shaped wheels instead of blades. Others are designed as attachments that fit behind a power mower. For medium to large areas, you’ll want to rent a gas-powered spiking aerator.
Lawn aerating is generally easier to do when the soil is moist, but it won’t work as well if the ground is wet.
If you’re wondering when to aerate, it’s best to do it in the fall after dethatching or after a thorough raking.
How Much Thatch Is Too Much
A thick layer of thatch thats thicker than 1/2- to 3/4-inches is considered excessive, which means youll have to dethatch physically.
You can even see the thatch layer by combing your fingers through the grass, and checking to see if you can see any soil between the grass plants. If you dont see any soil between the blades, then its time to take your lawn care to the next level, and prepare to dethatch.
Another way to check if you have a thatch problem is to poke your fingers between the blades of grass to see if it feels springy or spongy. If it does, then you can cut a vertical slice from the turf, and measure the thickness of the thatch layer of dead grass with a ruler.
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Beginners Guide To Lawn Dethatching
Lawn dethatching can be crucial to keeping your grass and soil healthy. Even if you are mowing and doing everything else necessary for your lawn, thatch can build up. Over watering and over fertilization can cause excess thatch. Detaching removes the thick layer of dead plant material . This allows air, water, and nutrients to reach your plants and soil again. Dethatching allows your lawn to drain better as well.; By learning why dethatching is important, as well as when and how to dethatch, it will be easier to keep your lawn healthy.;
Tools For Dethatching A Lawn
It goes without saying that to dethatch your lawn properly, you need lawn care tools designed for the job. There are a number of tools at your disposal, from vertical mowers to power rakes to manual rakes.
Obviously, some of these are very specialized, so things such as vertical mowers could either be rented, or the work carried out by a specialist lawn care company who offer lawn dethatching as a service.
As they do a large volume of this type of work, theyll have things like a vertical mower and power dethatchers to hand. Plus, they dethatch lawns for a living, so theyll likely do a much better job than you will! They would also be happy to aerate your yard at the same time, no doubt. That leaves you with just having to fertilize your lawn, and regular mowing to worry about.
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When Should I Power Rake
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.
Aerate Your Lawn Regularly
Aeration is a great alternative to dethatching if it has yet to grow out of control. While the process is similar, aerators remove cores or slices of soil, roots, thatch, and grass leaves all at once. Breaking up your soil once a year allows air, moisture, and nutrients to reach the base of your roots.;
Aerating your lawn is also ideal before you plan to fertilize or overseed your lawn. An annual aeration can protect you from having the dethatch in the first place.
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Why Should I Dethatch My Lawn
Thin layers of thatch allows water, nutrients and air to penetrate into the soil and reach the roots of your lawn, but too much thatch can do quite the opposite.
With thatch thicker than 1 inch, your turf will become a haven for insects and other pests. Lawn diseases also thrive in thick thatch.
If you want a healthy and beautiful lawn, you will want to dethatch anytime your thatch is thicker than .75 inch. You can check this by taking a small garden trowel or a spade and digging up a section of your lawn to check the turf .
Fertilizer/lawn Feed/weed Killers Become More Effective
If you have a thick layer of thatch covering your lawn, its going to act as a barrier to any lawn care product youre trying to put down.
Fertilizers, feeds, and weed killers are going to be much less effective if they cant get to where they need to be.
Dethatching could well be your answer, especially if youve tried everything else, and youre not seeing any conclusive results.
Just remember not to over fertilize, and make sure youre using a weed killer/preventer thats safe for use on lawns.
Check out this article on how to get rid of weeds in your lawn without chemicals if that is something which concerns you, but you can also use one of these pre-emergent herbicides providing its safe for lawns.
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How To Detach Your Lawn
While the process of thatch removal is technically called scraping, there are actually two distinct methods of dealing with the thatch problem; which one you use will depend on the severity of the situation:
- In clean dethatching, you use a rake
- Aeration of the heart requires a mechanical device
Pushing the normal rake teeth deep into the grass and pulling it out is a simple method to dethatch your lawn. However, the power rake, which can be rented from a rental center, is the best rake of all, but any rake is better than none. No matter what rake you use, the raking method will only be sufficient when the instances of thatch buildup are relatively minor.
In worst cases, core aeration may be necessary to properly dethatch lawns. If you have poorly compacted soil, this is another reason to dethatch your lawn.
You have the following three options when it comes to primary ventilation:
- Hire a lawn service to do this job
- Rent a basic aerator
- Buy an aerator
My advice to the average homeowner would be to either hire a lawn service or hire a basic detacher. When it comes to purchasing, the cost would not only be the issue but also the storage.
And how would you choose the other two options? Well, if youre not physically at work or dont live near a rental center, or just dont like gadgets very much, it might make sense for you to choose to hire a lawn service to do this job. Otherwise, renting is a great option.
Prep The Soil For Reseeding
Once the old grass and weeds are gone and its safe to lay down new seed , its time to prep the soil.
Remove any large debris, then use a garden rake to level the ground and break up any large clumps of dirt. If the area is covered with mulch or compost, lightly work it into the top couple of inches of soil.
If your soil is compacted, you may also want to aerate it at this point. After aerating, rake the area level and loosen the top ¼ inch of soil. As a final step, spread a 1-inch layer of Scotts® Turf Builder® LawnSoil evenly across the entire lawn. Its specifically formulated with a blend of rich, composted materials to provide an excellent growing environment for young seedlings, and also makes it easier for them to sink their roots in.
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Does Your Lawn Need Dethatching
Yes, I admit that having thatch in your lawn is not entirely bad. In fact, there are some benefits. It does offer a natural way to mulch the soil. When spending time on your lawn perhaps during the weekend, thatch prevents too much compaction in the soil by offering a natural cushion.
Temperature can also affect the health and condition of your grass lawn. Regular fluctuations are not the best for the crown part of the grass and thatch does a good job at keeping this area well protected.
The right thickness is about ½ inch tall. Anything above this will actually do more harm than good. There are a few cons to having too much thatch. One of them is providing a barrier for sunlight to reach down to the lower parts of the grass.
During watering, you want the moisture to quickly seep into the root system. Thatch can hold it near the leaves providing a habitat for the fungus that could bring diseases. Fertilizer and nutrients will not get to the roots resulting in slower growth rate.
Why When And How To Dethatch A Lawn
You can apply the most nutritious fertilizer, optimize your watering schedule, and follow all the best mowing practices, but your lawn could still look thin, dull, and weedy if it isnât properly dethatched. But why does dethatching matter so much, and when and how is it the best choice for your lawn?
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Final Thoughts And Tips On Lawn Dethatching
Lawn dethatching may seem like something you dont have to do, but for most homeowners it is vitally important.
If you care about having a lawn full of healthy grass, free from disease and insects then dethatching is something to think about. Dethatching can definitely be done by yourself, but if you have neglected your lawn, and the thatch layer is over 2 inches thick, you may want to consider hiring a professional. Its a lot of work, and if you have the money, getting someone to dethatch and remove the dead grass will save you a lot of time and back strain.
You may need multiple sessions if you have an excessive buildup of thatch, and you must remember not to remove too much at once or you will disrupt the roots. If you have a large thatch problem or seem unsure of what to do, your local lawn professional or garden center can help you make the right decision.
Should You Dethatch The Entire Lawn
Many homeowners ask if its a good idea to dethatch the entire lawn in one go, and the short answer is absolutely not! In fact, by doing this, you risk removing too much thatch and soil from one area, and not removing enough from other areas.
This is why its highly important that you carefully inspect each area of your lawn, and take note of areas with excess thatch.
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Spread The Grass Seed
Its seeding time! Just fill up your Scotts® spreader with grass seed, adjust the spreader settings according to the label directionsuse the New Lawn coverage rateand apply. The Scotts® Whirl Hand-Powered Spreader is an extremely easy-to-use choice for small lawns , while the Scotts® Turf Builder® Edgeguard® DLX Broadcast Spreader brings exceptional precision when youre applying seed to larger lawns . For really big lawns , the Scotts® Elite Spreader, with its 6-foot spread pattern, will help you get the job done quickly.
Use A Specialised Dethatching Machine
You can hire or purchase specialised dethatching machines vertical cutters, verticutters, or power rakes 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 hasnt been tended to for a number of years and is especially thick. Be sure to find out the recommended cutting height for your lawn type and follow the instructions carefully.
After dethatching your lawn, it will be in pretty poor shape. Make sure you rake up all the loosened debris and fertilise your lawn to help it to recover.
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When Should I Dethatch My Lawn
There are certain times when you should specifically dethatch your lawn. First make sure to always check the thatch layer and make sure it is more than 1 inch in order to dethatch.
Then make sure you are dethatching in the season according to what grass you are growing, and should coincide with the major growth times. For Kentucky bluegrass, or other cool season grasses, the early fall or late summer is the best time to dethatch. For Zoysia grass or other warm season grasses, early summer is the best time to dethatch.
The wrong time to dethatch a lawn is when your grass is stressed as this will cause major damage.
Improves Water And Air Flow
Speaking of strangling, lots of thatch on your lawn can choke out existing grasses, preventing air and water from flowing freely and accessing the root system.
Once you remove all that dead weight, air and water will be able to penetrate the soil, and over time youll start to see a greener, lusher lawn as a result.
If you dont dethatch, what happens is that layer of dead material soaks up any rainfall like a sponge, preventing the goodness from reaching the grass roots.
Eventually, youll start to see patches of brown or yellow grass appear as your lawn isnt getting enough water soaking through into the soil.
And while youre at it, you should take a look at this article if youd like more tips on how to make your grass thicker and fuller, as Im pretty sure dethatching will be a part of it.
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