How to Dethatch Your Lawn

What is thatch?

de-thatchingAs defined by Penn State Agriculture and Science. “Thatch is a loose, intermingled organic layer of dead and living shoots, stems, and roots that develops between the zone of green vegetation and the soil surface.”  As you see in the image on the right or on top if you are viewing on a mobile device, a thick layer of thatch can prevent your lawn from growing correctly. The question remains, how to dethatch your lawn?

Tools for Thatch Build Up

Small lawns can be dethatched using a specialized dethatching rake, or you can rent a dethatcher (also known as a vertical cutter, verticutter, or power rake) to tackle larger lawns.

Mow your lawn to half its normal height before you begin de-thatching.

Using a thatching rake is similar to using a regular rake. The tines dig into the thatch and pull it upward helping to loosen and remove thatch. While you rake, you should feel and see the thatch separating from the soil.

  • Be sure to mark any shallow irrigation lines, sprinkler heads, or buried utility lines before starting if you’re planning to use a de-thatcher,
  • While renting a dethatcher, be sure to ask the rental agency to adjust the spacing and cutting depth for your grass type before you leave.
  • The blades should be set to cut no deeper than ½ inch into the soil.
  • A de-thatcher is heavy, and requires help for you load and unload it.  It is considered large equipment, therefore a truck or small flat bed trailer is need to transport.

After de-thatching, your lawn will look a little rough, but raking up the loosened thatch will remove it from the lawn. Fertilizing your lawn after dethatching will help the lawn recover quickly. Do not fertilize before dethatching because your fertilizer will not be distributed into the healthly soil. Keep your lawn well-watered to help your grass recover.

When to De-thatch Your Lawn

The lawn should be dethatched when it is growing and the soil is moderately moist. The best time of year for dethatching in late spring through early summer for warm season grasses. For cool seasonal grasses early spring or early fall.

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