Dethatching is a vital part of lawn care. Over time, a layer of thatch, or dead grass and weeds, builds up in between the blades of grass in a lawn. This layer becomes thicker and thicker if you don’t remove it. Eventually, it can get so thick and compacted that it doesn’t let water and nutrients reach the grass roots. This can result in yellow spots at best, and the death of large patches of your lawn if you don’t address it. Dethatching pulls up this thatch layer and opens up the roots of the grass to the water and nutrients it needs.
Types of Lawn Dethatcher
Hand Dethatcher Rake
Use a lawn dethatcher rake to get into the tight spaces you can’t reach with a mower or pull-behind dethatcher. You can also dethatch an entire lawn with one of these rakes, but it’s a lot of work. Unless you have a very small yard, go with one of the powered dethatchers below.
Walk-Behind Lawn Dethatcher
The walk-behind type is a push mower-like piece of equipment. It works well for small and medium-sized lawns. For larger lawns, or to speed the process up, go with a dethatching blade for your mower or a pull-behind unit.
Lawn Dethatcher Blades for Lawn Mowers
You can get special blades for a lawn mower that turn your rider or push mower into a lawn dethatching machine.
Pull-Behind Lawn Dethatcher
A pull-behind unit hooks up to the back of a riding lawn mower or lawn tractor. These cover the biggest area of the three types. They make quick work of even the largest lawns. However, they might be a bit difficult to maneuver through small lawns with lots of trees and shrubs.
How to Dethatch Your Lawn
1. Cut your grass a bit shorter than normal with your lawn mower.
Avoid scalping, but give that lawn a buzz cut. Usually, lowering your mower’s height setting by one notch is enough.
2. Make two passes over the entire lawn with a lawn dethatcher to tear up all the thatch.
You can make a third if you like. Overlap each pass by a couple of inches just like you would if you were mowing.
3. Make one more pass at a 90-degree angle to your first two.
Feel free to make another pass if you think there’s more thatch to be lifted. The idea is to be as thorough as you can so you don’t have to dethatch twice in the same season.
4. Rake up the thatch and dispose of it.
If you have a compost pile, toss it on top. If not, burn it in your fire pit or take it to a waste disposal center.
5. Water and fertilize your lawn (Follow our 3 Tips for Picking a Fertilizer to get the right fertilizer for your lawn).
It should green up in a few weeks, but you have to give it an initial nudge with some extra nutrients and water. Be careful to get the right fertilizer and don’t overwater it.