Best Lawn Dethatcher

Best Lawn Dethatcher to Make a Huge Mess (then fix it)

An aspect of lawn maintenance that’s often overlooked is dealing with thatch build up in your yard’s turf. As you probably know, thatch is the mixture of decomposed and partially decomposed grass that gets tangled in an annoying limbo. A reasonable amount of thatch is healthy for your lawn. However, if it’s left unchecked and accumulates to more than 1-inch thick, it can be problematic, and you’ll want the best lawn dethatcher on the market to help you break up that layer of organic matter and allow air, water, and nutrients to reach your lawn’s roots.

Dethatching your lawn is a big project, but if you use an electric or tow-behind dethatcher like the ones I recommend on this page, then the toughest part of the job will be cleaning up the thatch that’s left behind.

And these tools are worth the investment for a lot of homeowners because they are typically less expensive than two rentals of a gas-powered power rake from the Home Depot.

The product that I recommend as the best overall lawn dethatcher in terms of price and performance is the Greenworks 27022 Corded Dethatcher. A 10-amp motor drives its stainless steel tines, eliminating all the thatch on your lawn. And thanks to the 14-inch wide tine head, it covers a lot of ground with each swath, saving you time.

Will this model be perfect for everyone? Nope. That’s why I have a variety of options so you can find the perfect dethatcher for your yard in this in-depth buying guide.


My Favorite Lawn Dethatchers

BEST OVERALL
Greenworks 27022 10 Amp 14" Corded Dethatcher for Lawns - Best Overall
5 Star Rating

This Greenworks model is one of the most user-friendly dethatchers you’ll come across. It has a push-button dial that helps you get started immediately. The collapsible handle saves on storage space.

RUNNER UP
Sun Joe AJ801E 12 Amp 13 inch Electric Dethatcher and Scarifier - Runner Up
5 Star Rating

Sun Joe’s model includes an 8-gallon catcher bag, trapping all the collected thatch. It performs well and pulls double-duty as a scarifier, which works well for lawns that need a bit of aeration.

BEST CORDLESS
Greenworks 40V Cordless, Battery-Powered Dethatcher / Scarifier - Best Cordless Lawn Dethatcher
4 Star Rating

The biggest downside to the most popular models is the need for a long extension cord. This cordless unit is a great option if you want to go off-leash. Ideal if you own some extra Greenworks batteries.


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My Best Advice when Shopping for a Dethatcher for your Lawn

Buying a lawn dethatcher is no small affair. So you’ll want to ensure that you’re making the right decision from the get-go.

To help you out, here’s a detailed guide outlining the most crucial factors to consider and mistakes to watch out for.

What to Look For When Buying a Lawn Dethatcher

The core points to keep in mind when picking a lawn dethatcher are:

Type of Dethatcher

Dethatchers can be classified further into three. Here’s a detailed breakdown of each type:

Motorized

As its name suggests, this tool contains a small motor, which is what drives the dethatching tines.

In terms of size, it looks like a small-size lawn mower so it’s pretty easy to navigate and store. It also has minimal maintenance requirements.

Lawn Dethatcher

However, the majority of motorized dethatchers are corded electric. This means that they have to be plugged into an electrical outlet to operate.

So if you don’t have access to an outdoor power supply, you may have to look for an alternative.

Tow-Behind

For homeowners with big yards, a tow-behind dethatcher is the best choice.

It’s designed to attach seamlessly to the rear hitch of other lawn care equipment. This could be a lawn mower, garden tractor or four-wheeler. As long as the machine has a towing hitch, you can easily connect the dethatcher and pull it along.

This makes it easier to clear dense thatch on giant-size lawns. In fact, you can even haul it behind a mower and get two jobs done simultaneously.

On the flipside, tow-behind dethatchers are quite big, with most of them being wider than four feet. This presents a challenge when it comes to storage.

Manual

If your lawn is on the smaller side, a manual dethatcher will suffice. Small and compact, this tool bears a striking resemblance to a standard yard rake.

The fact that it’s small offers two main benefits. For one, it enables you to focus on small sections at a time. This way, you’re able to clear all the excessive thatch and not miss any spot.

Secondly, it doesn’t take up a lot of storage area; making it ideal for those with small sheds or workshops.

Lawn Size

Once you’ve figured out what design to go with, you’ll want to think about the size of your yard.

If you have a small lawn, then a smaller and less powerful dethatcher will suffice. In fact, a manual dethatcher is sufficient to meet the needs of small-sized yards.

If you have a medium-sized lawn- anywhere between 1 and 2 acres – consider going for a more powerful machine such as a motorized dethatcher.

For bigger lawns, manual and motorized dethatchers don’t cut it. Instead, you need a pull-behind dethatcher that can be attached to a riding mower or ATV.

If you’re interested in calculating the exact square footage of your lawn, try my lawn size calculator. It’s free to use and allows you to map your grass areas via satellite imagery.

You can even save your map to reference later when it’s time to buy fertilizer.

Source of Power

This is one more thing that you’ll want to account for. Based on this, lawn dethatchers can be divided into:

Corded Electric

This tool is revered for its lightweight profile and quiet operation. Most corded electric dethatchers are also cheap, making them a great option for those on a shoestring budget.

If you decide to go with this option, ensure you check the cord length. If your lawn is located too far away from your outdoor power supply, you might want to get an extension cord in advance.

That said, operating a corded dethatcher requires you to be very attentive. The cord can easily get tangled in debris, posing a risk. 

Cordless

If you’re looking for a dethatcher that’s portable and lightweight, cordless is the way to go. These dethatchers are powered using batteries, so you don’t have to worry about electrical outlets or fuel mixes.

The flipside to this is that they often have limited runtimes. So if you’re looking to dethatch a large area, arm yourself with spare batteries and a rapid charger.

Tine Head

One other factor you should check is the width of the tine head. The width of dethatchers varies significantly; ranging from as small as 13 inches to as big as 40 inches.

Generally, the wider the tine head, the fewer the passes it has to make to cover ground. So if you have a big property, a wider tine head will come in handy.

Adjustable Height vs Static Height

This is another useful feature incorporated in most dethatchers. It lets you customize your dethatching experience by adjusting the operating height of the tines.

Lawn Thatch After Running Dethatcher over the Yard

So if you have very thick thatch, you can set your dethatcher to sink deeper and pull out all the dead grass. However, if you have thin thatch layers, you can set a smaller height to avoid damaging the top layer of soil.

Levers

Planning to buy the tow-behind style of dethatcher? If you are, consider getting one with levers.

These make it easier to raise and lower tines when the need arises. For instance, if you’re crossing a driveway or sidewalk, you can raise the tines without having to get off your mower.

Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Lawn Dethatcher

Avoid these mistakes when choosing your next dethatcher:

Buying at the Wrong Time

Unlike mowing and fertilizing, dethatching is not an activity that’s done regularly.

In fact for some grass species, it could be up to 5 years before the need to dethatch arises. So before you rush to buy this tool, determine the thickness of thatch in your yard.

Ideally, you should only dethatch your lawn if the thatch layer is more than an inch thick.

Tine Quality

These are the metallic prongs extending from the dethatcher’s head. While most people remember to check the number of tines, only a handful pay attention to the materials they’re made of.

The best dethatchers have tines made of stainless steel, and for good reasons. This material is strong, enabling the tines to pull up thatch without flexing.

My List of the Best Lawn Dethatchers This Year

Here are my picks of the best lawn dethatchers, arranged from the most popular to least popular.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Greenworks 27022 10 Amp 14″ Corded Dethatcher
  2. RUNNER UP: Sun Joe AJ801E 12 amp Electric Scarifier/Dethatcher
  3. BEST CORDLESS: Greenworks DT40B51 40V 14-inch Dethatcher Scarifier
  4. BEST VALUE: Agri-Fab 45-0294 40″ Tow Lawn Dethatcher
  5. BEST DETHATCHING RAKE: Wolf-Garten Interlocken 12″ Dethatching Rake
  6. BEST LAWN SWEEPER ATTACHMENT: Agri-Fab 45-0343 Tine Dethatcher for Tow Sweeper
  7. BEST FOR LARGE YARDS: Brinly DT-480BH-A 48″ Tow-Behind Dethatcher

Greenworks 27022 10 Amp 14-Inch Corded Dethatcher for Lawns

Looking for a way to dethatch your lawn more efficiently? You can’t go wrong with the Greenworks 27022 dethatcher. Here’s what you can expect from it:

Power

This dethatcher is a corded electric model, meaning it has to be plugged in to operate. And while the cord length isn’t specified, there’s a high chance that you’ll have to buy an extension cord to get a good reach.

The Greenworks unit uses a 10-amp motor. This may not sound like much, but it gives you a decent amount of power to handle tough dethatching jobs.

Performance

The dethatcher’s stellar performance is another aspect that drew me to it.

It comes equipped with 18 tines that deliver a 14-inch wide dethatching path. This wide clearing path translates to fewer passes over your yard; thus, allowing you to complete the task faster.

Also worth mentioning is the stainless steel construction of the tines. This material allows the tines to remain sharp for longer.

Better yet, you’ll be able to adjust the tine depth in three different positions. So if your lawn has a very dense thatch layer, you can set the highest tine depth to ensure you clear everything.

Extra features

The Greenworks 27022 dethatcher has a few other features that make it easier to use.

One such element is the cushioned handle that provides a firm and comfortable grip. Thanks to this, you won’t experience a lot of arm fatigue if you’re dethatching a large area.

 Another thing I love about this handle is that it’s foldable. This prevents it from taking up too much storage space.

And to guarantee users’ safety, Greenworks has incorporated a cord lock. This ensures that the power cord doesn’t disconnect during use.

Greenworks 10 Amp 14-Inch Corded Dethatcher Specifications

Dethatching path14 inches
TypeMotorized
Tines18 stainless steel tines
PROS
  • Offers adjustable tine depth
  • Tines are made of stainless steel so they can stay sharp
  • Comes with a 3-year limited warranty
  • Cord lock to prevent the power cable from disconnecting
  • Cushioned grip for maximum comfort
CONS
  • Limited reach with the power cord

My Final Take-Away: The Greenworks 27022 is a feature-packed motorized dethatcher. It uses a 10-amp motor to drive the 18 stainless steel tines over your lawn. And thanks to the foldable and cushioned handle, it’s easy to hold and navigate for extended periods.

Where to Buy the Greenworks 27022 Corded Dethatcher

You can compare prices and order this online at the following retailers:


Sun Joe AJ801E 12-amp, 13-inch Electric Dethatcher and Scarifier for Lawns

Is the Greenworks dethatcher too pricey? Or, does it fall short of some of your expectations and you’d like a 2-in-1 tool that also scarifies?

If you answered yes to either of these, the Sun Joe AJ801E is the perfect alternative. It tends to run a hair cheaper than our top pick and has a fairly similar set of features.

Power

One thing I like about the Sun Joe AJ801E is that it’s slightly more powerful than the Greenworks model. It uses a 12-amp motor, giving you more power to work with.

Despite this, the dethatcher is pretty lightweight. It tips the scales at 27 pounds, making it easy to navigate and carry around.

Performance

The performance of the AJ801E isn’t a far cry from that of the Greenworks model. This unit has a slightly smaller clearing width of 13 inches.

This isn’t a very big difference so you’ll still be able to finish tasks quickly. Besides, you’ll be able to adjust the tines’ dethatching depth in five different positions.

But what makes the AJ801E truly stand out is its dual-functionality. Apart from dethatching, this tool can also be used to scarify.

So just what is scarifying? Well, this is a more aggressive style of dethatching. In this case, the Sun Joe’s tines dig deep into the soil, ripping up the thatch and pulling it out.

Given how disruptive this can be to the lawn’s top layer of soil, it should only be done to very thick thatch layers. The silver lining is that scarifying alleviates soil compaction by helping to aerate it lightly.

Ease of use

The Sun Joe AJ801E is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to ease of use. On one hand, I like that it has two attachments: the scarifier and dethatcher.

However, switching between these functions calls for additional tools.

To replace any of the attachments, use an Allen wrench bolt to remove the screw holding the dethatcher arms in place.

Then simply substitute the end with that of the scarifier. If you don’t have an Allen wrench on hand, you’ll need to borrow or buy one.

The collection bag is another item that attracts mixed reviews. On one hand, it’s a thoughtful addition, especially because other manufacturers don’t include one at all.

However, its 8-gallon capacity is really small. As a result, you’ll have to empty it quite frequently if you’re removing a lot of thatch from your lawn.

Sun Joe AJ801E Specifications

Dethatching path13 inches
TypeMotorized
TinesSpring steel tines
PROS
  • Two-in-one dethatcher and scarifier
  • Has a collection bag for easy cleanups
  • Lightweight; hence, easy to transport
  • Tines are made of spring steel for maximum durability
  • Backed by a 2-year warranty
CONS
  • Small collection bag
  • Switching between the two attachments requires extra tools

My Final Take-Away: Hunting for a tool that’s highly versatile? If you are, the Sun Joe AJ801E is just what you need. It’s a dethatcher and scarifier, enabling you to tackle dethatching and light aeration with ease. Even better, it comes with a collection bag, reducing the amount of cleanup you have to do afterwards.

Where to Buy the Sun Joe AJ801E Dethatcher / Scarifier

You can compare prices and order this online at the following retailers:


Greenworks 40V Cordless Dethatcher Scarifier - Battery Powered

A multi-purpose dethatcher and scarifier for small- to mid-sized yards, the Greenworks DT40B510 is the secret to a healthier lawn. Powered by batteries, this tool offers you unparalleled flexibility.

Power

One of the biggest highlights of this dethatcher is the fact it’s cordless. Specifically, it uses a 40V 5.0 Ah battery with an impressive 45-minute runtime.

What I like about this battery is that it offers a gas-like performance without the hassle typically associated with gas-operated tools. No need to worry about toxic emissions or excessive noise.

Similarly, no need to look for gasoline or oil. Just press the start button and voila, you can start dethatching.

Performance

The Greenworks DT40B510 is yet another versatile tool. It pulls double duty as a dethatcher and scarifier. As a dethatcher, it gets rid of surface thatch.

And as a sacrifier, it delves deeper into the soil; improving its aeration and nutrient uptake.

Whichever attachment you use, you’ll have the freedom to adjust the tines’ depth. With the scarifier, the height range starts from -½ to +⅕ inches.

Similarly, you can adjust the dethatching depth between -1/10 and +¾ inches.

Ease of use

Greenworks equipped their DT40B510 tool with four 7-inch wheels. This makes it easy to navigate even on rugged landscapes.

And like the Sun Joe AJ801E, this one also comes with a clipping bag. This prevents the dead thatch from falling right back on your lawn.

The handle is another feature worth mentioning. For one, it has a cushioned overmold grip providing utmost comfort. Secondly, it’s designed to fold down; resulting in a more compact storage.

Greenworks 40V 14-inch Dethatcher Scarifier DT40B510 Specifications

Dethatching path14 inches
TypeMotorized
TinesStainless steel
PROS
  • Foldable to provide compact storage
  • Cordless 2-in-1 design for a flexible operation
  • Large 7-inch wheels to maneuver across rugged lawns
  • Warranty for up to 4 years
CONS
  • More expensive than other dethatchers

My Final Take-Away: Do you enjoy the convenience offered by cordless power tools? If you do, be sure to check out the Greenworks DT40B510 dethatcher. It runs off one 40V 5.0Ah battery, which delivers a modest 45 minutes of runtime. Even better, it comes with a rapid charger so you can recharge it quickly and resume dethatching.

Where to Buy the Greenworks DT40B510 Dethatcher / Scarifier

You can compare prices and order this online at the following retailers:


Agri-Fab 45-0294 Tow Dethatcher Attachment for Riding Mower

Don’t want to break your bank while purchasing a dethatching tool? If so, you’ll love this Agri-Fab 40-inch tow model that costs less than $200. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of its features:

Design

If you already own a riding lawn mower or ATV, then a tow-behind dethatcher such as this one makes the most sense.

It boasts a universal hitch, letting you attach it to any brand of garden tractor. Even better is the fact that it has an adjustable height.

Thanks to this, you can lower or raise it anytime you want. This feature is helpful when you have to cross a driveway to get to your lawn.

Performance

Another area where this tow-behind dethatcher shines is in performance. It’s fitted with a whopping 20 tines, resulting in the 40-inch wide swaths.

So even if you have a big yard, you don’t have to worry about spending a long time dethatching it.

Speaking of tines, these ones are designed with durability in mind. They’re heat-treated and rustproof, enabling them to withstand harsh outdoor elements. 

Ease of use

Unlike other dethatchers, this one requires some assembly before it’s ready to use. But once it’s all set up, the 7-inch flat-free tires allow the tool to glide smoothly on your lawn.

One other feature that makes the Agri-Fab user-friendly is the holding tray. It can accommodate up to 70 pounds of debris for efficient thatch removal.

Agri-Fab 40 inch Tow Lawn Dethatcher Specifications

Dethatching path40 inches
TypeTow-behind
Tines20 spring tines
PROS
  • Universal hitch makes the dethatcher compatible with any mower or tractor
  • 7-inch wheels for smooth navigation
  • 40-inch wide swaths save you time when dethatching large lawns
  • Heat-treated tines for optimal durability
  • Affordable
  • Comes with a 3-year warranty
CONS
  • The hitch on the dethatcher could be longer

My Final Take-Away: If you’ve been searching for a tow-behind dethatcher that offers maximum value, the Agri-Fab 40 inch model is exactly what you need. It has a steel-made deck that will last for the long haul. And it gives you a 40-inch dethatching path, making it fit for large lawns.

Where to Buy the Agri-Fab 40″ Tow-Behind Dethatcher

You can compare prices and order this online at the following retailers:


Wolf-Garten Interlocken 12" Manual Dethatching Rake Head

Do you have a small lawn? Or, are you planning to dethatch just a small section of your yard? If you answered yes to either of these, a dethatching rake like the Wolf Garten Interlocken will suffice.

Here’s a detailed review of its features.

Design & Performance

Right off the bat, I’d like to note that this tool only comes with the rake head – the part that holds the tines. While this explains the low cost, it leaves you with more work of finding a compatible handle. This one from the same manufacturer works well.

If you’d rather buy an all-in-one manual dethatching rake (and just order a single product), The Ames Company makes an alternative (Amazon link) to the Wolf-Garten model that works pretty well.

But at 12 inches, this rake head is pretty wide. This means that it clears more debris with each pass; hence, saving you time.

I was also impressed with the quality of the tines. All 10 blades are made of spring steel, making them durable. They’re also curved- a feature that helps them to dig into the thatch so it’s easier to pull up.

Warranty

Anytime you’re spending your hard-earned money on a lawn care tool, you should check whether it comes with a warranty.

Manufacturers who are confident about the quality of their products don’t shy away from giving long warranties. And the Wolf-Garten brand is a good case in point.

While other dethatchers come with a warranty of 1 or 2 years, the Interlocken is backed by a 10-year guarantee!

Wolf-Garten Interlocken 12″ Dethatching Rake Specifications

Dethatching path12 inches
TypeManual
Tines12 spring steel tines
PROS
  • Steel made tines for longevity
  • Tines are curved for easier thatch removal
  • Backed by a 10-year warranty
CONS
  • Rake’s handle is sold separately

My Final Take-Away: Are you looking for a simple no-frills dethatcher that can handle your small lawn? If so, the Wolf-Garten Interlocken is the perfect tool. Boasting 10 hooked blades and an adjustable swinging head, this dethatching rake gets the job done!

Where to Buy the Wolf-Garten Interlocken Dethatching Rake

You can compare prices and order this online at the following retailers:


Agri-Fab 45-0343 Tine Dethatcher for Tow Sweeper

There’s no denying that dethatching confers several benefits to your lawn. However, this activity leaves a whole lot of mess that needs to be cleaned up.

The only way to clean it up is to use a rake, which can be pretty time-consuming, and that’s where lawn sweepers come in.

If you don’t want to deal with the resulting mess, consider the Agri-Fab 45-0343 dethatcher attachment that easily hooks up to a tow sweeper like the Agri-Fab 45-0492 Lawn Sweeper to dethatching and clean-up a snap!

Design

When fully assembled, this dethatcher measures 12” by 42” by 14”. This means that it’s quite big and requires a decent amount of storage space.

The good thing is that it gives you a 42-inch working width, allowing it to cover a lot of ground within a short amount of time. 

Another thing I like about its design is the universal front mount that it comes with. This makes it compatible with lawn sweepers from Agri-Fab and other brands too.

To add to this, it attaches very easily. You’ll be able to set it up quickly and start dethatching your lawn.

Performance

The Agri-Fab 45-0343 dethatcher comes equipped with 14 tines.

These tines do an excellent job of breaking down the excessive thatch on your yard. And since it works with a tow sweeper, you can dethatch and sweep debris simultaneously.

This dual-functionality means you can leave your lawn looking pristine.

The solid build of this tool’s tines is another point worth mentioning. Not only are they made of rustproof material, but they’re also heat-treated. This makes them highly durable and resistant to bending.

Agri-Fab 45-0343 Tine Dethatcher Specifications

Dethatching path42 inches
TypeTow-behind
Tines14 spring tines
PROS
  • Large width so you can finish dethatching quickly
  • Universal mount that attaches to most tow sweepers
  • Heat-treated and rustproof tines for maximum durability
  • Backed by a 3-year warranty
CONS
  • Issues of missing parts

My Final Take-Away: The Agri-Fab 45-0343 is the secret to having a neat and manicured lawn after dethatching. It has a universal front mount, enabling you to attach it to a tow sweeper. This then means that you can dethatch and sweep your yard at the same time.

Where to Buy the Agri-Fab 45-0343 Dethatching Attachment

You can compare prices and order this online at the following retailers:


Brinly DT-480BHA 48 inch Tow-Behind Dethatcher for Lawns

Do you have a lawn that’s as big as a football field? If you do, the big, rugged Brinly DT-480BH-A tow-behind dethatcher is the ultimate dethatching solution. Here’s why I recommend it for large lawns.

Getting started

Since it’s a tow-behind dethatcher, one of the things you’ll want to check is its ease of assembly.

Thankfully, the Brinly DT-480BH comes with a universal hitch. This enables you to attach it to any brand of ride-on mower, tractor, ZTR and ATV.

Besides, the manufacturer has conveniently provided a pictorial assembly manual on their website. If this doesn’t help, consider watching the assembly video on Brinly’s YouTube channel.

Performance

One of the biggest highlights of the Brinly DT-480BH dethatcher is its performance. It’s fitted with two rows of tines, totalling up to 24 tines.

The rows of tines flex individually, removing as much thatch as they can with each pass.

Another element that contributes to this tool’s superb performance is its width. It boasts a 48-inch working width, reducing the number of passes you have to make to cover your entire lawn.

Moreover, this heavy-duty dethatcher is designed with durability in mind. For one, the frame is made of heavy-duty 14 gauge steel. The tines are also constructed using spring steel.

Maneuverability

When dethatching a big yard, the tool’s ease of navigation is crucial. You don’t want one that gets bogged down by the terrain and slows you down.

Fortunately, Brinly equipped their tow-behind dethatcher with 8-inch puncture-proof wheels. The large size of the tires enables it to move effortlessly on your lawn.

I also love that the tires are perfectly aligned with the dethatcher’s tray so as to reduce footprint width.

Brinly DT-480BH-A 48″ Tow-Behind Dethatcher Specifications

Dethatching path48 inches
TypeTow behind
Tines24 spring steel tines
PROS
  • Large tires provide smooth maneuverability
  • The all-steel build makes for excellent durability
  • 48-inch working width saves you time
  • Universal hitch for compatibility with different lawn equipment
CONS
  • Requires a lot of storage space

My Final Take-Away: The Brinly DT-480BH makes quick work of dethatching large yards. It offers a 48-inch dethatching width and 8-inch flat-free wheels for smooth navigation. It’s a heavy-duty product that will last for years.

Where to Buy the Brinly DT-480BH Dethatcher

You can compare prices and order this online at the following retailers:


Still Not Sure?

Let Me Answer Some Common Buyer Questions

Sarah, the "Lawn Chick" of LawnChick.com

If you’re like many homeowners shopping for a dethatcher for your lawn, you might still have some questions.

Below I’ll try to provide some more information about choosing and using a dethatcher.

I’ll also help you out by explaining why it may make sense to buy a dethatcher instead of renting one, and share some tips, tricks, and things to consider when buying the best lawn dethatcher for your yard.

If you’re still on the fence, please explore my site. I have hundreds of in-depth articles on a range of topics about yard maintenance and lawn care, and I expect that you might find one that addresses your specific question or concern.

For now, here’s some further reading about lawn dethatcher and scarifier products that might help as you make your final purchase decision:

What is the best time of the year to dethatch a lawn?

The ideal time to dethatch lawns is when grass is about to enter its peak growth season. Where you live and the type of grass growing in your lawn should be the primary factors that guide you to the best time to dethatch your lawn.

Reference my grass zone map for guidance if you’re not sure:

Grass Zone Map
  • For warm-season grasses, this means dethatching from late spring up to early summer.
  • If you have cool-season grass in your yard, early spring or early fall works best.
  • For those living in the transitional zone where both types of turfgrass can grow, you’ll need to make the decision based on the unique grass type growing in your lawn. If your lawn tends to look its best in the spring and fall, it’s probably a cool season variety. If your lawn tends to thrive in the hot summer months, then you should follow the warm season lawn timing.

Is dethatching good for your lawn?

The short answer is that it depends.

Dethatching can be beneficial to your lawn but only if it’s done at the right time, and only if your lawn truly needs to be dethatched.

If your yard has a thin layer of thatch – meaning it’s less than ½ an inch – then there’s no need to get rid of it. This is a reasonable amount of thatch that will help to insulate the area from extreme temperatures and heavy foot traffic.

However, if the thatch layer is thicker than ½-inch, then it might be blocking moisture, air, and nutrients from reaching the soil and your lawn’s root system. This is when you should consider dethatching. Excessive thatch also creates a habitable environment for pests.

The primary issue with a thick thatch layer, however, is that it impedes proper circulation of water, oxygen, and nutrients.

As a result, the grass root system starts to weaken, causing a slow death.

Another risk of having too much thatch on your lawn is that roots can grow in the thatch instead of the soil. If this happens, they remain exposed to temperature extremities.

To avoid these effects, be sure to dethatch your lawn if the layer is too thick.

Is it better to dethatch or power rake?

If your yard has excessive thatch, you can either use a dethatcher or power rake to remove it.

Neither tool is superior to the other so it boils down to your lawn’s needs. Many industry professionals will use these terms interchangeably.

What is the Best Lawn Dethatcher?

For light-duty removal- whether the thatch is ½-inch thick, a dethatcher is the ultimate tool.

But for thatch layers that are up to 1 or 2 inches thick, a gas engine driven power rake is better as it’s a more powerful and aggressive tool – a lawn tool you should rent instead of buying.

How often should you dethatch your lawn?

The frequency of dethatching depends on the specific grass species you have on your lawn. So while some require annual dethatching others can stay for up to five years before thatch builds up.

Cool-season grasses like Kentucky Bluegrass and Creeping Bentgrass and warm-season grasses like Zoysia Grass and Bermuda Grass need yearly dethatching.

However, there are less thatch-prone species such as rye and tall fescue.

In general, grass types that spread laterally via rhizomes or stolons tend to have thatch issues, and bunch-type grasses that don’t spread out on their own tend to require less dethatching.

In my cool season lawn I have mostly tall fescue and don’t typically need to dethatch it. An annual core aeration gets the job done for me.

Why does my lawn have so much thatch?

Wondering why thatch builds up on your lawn so fast? Well, here are some common culprits:

  • Growing thatch-prone grass – as stated earlier, some turfgrass species form way more thatch than others. These also tend to be the most popular varieties because they self-repair and grow in nice and thick over time.
  • Imbalance in the soil’s pH – thatch can also build up if the soil is incapable of sustaining the immense populations of thatch-decomposing organisms. Specifically, highly acidic soil impedes the activity of these microorganisms. As a result, thatch forms at a higher rate than the one being broken down. Test your soil and consider spreading lime if you have acidic soil.

Best Overall Lawn Soil Test Kit

The Soil Test Kit I Use & Recommend

There are many options for testing your lawn’s soil, but I prefer a lab-based soil test that provides a detailed analysis of your soil’s nutrients and what’s needed for your lawn to thrive.

I use this one from MySoil every year.

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  • Improper fertilization – another factor that causes a spike in thatch build up is aggressive fertilization. This is particularly so if you’re using high-nitrogen lawn feed. Too much nitrogen makes the soil more acidic. This, in turn, inhibits the microbe activity needed to break down thatch. You’ll also end up with extra organic matter sitting on your soil caused by extra-fast leaf growth on your grass and more frequent mowing.

Should I overseed after dethatching?

Any time you mechanically damage your lawn (be it through aeration or dethatching) it’s smart to overseed your lawn.

The process of dethatching breaks up your lawn’s canopy and exposes the soil to light, air, and moisture. This then makes it easier for the seeds to come into contact with soil.

And if you don’t overseed you risk weed seeds taking hold.

Wondering how much seed you need to spread for a good overseeding job? I created a free grass seed calculator that can help you quickly determine the perfect seeding rate for your lawn size.

Does mulching create thatch?

One common misconception is that using the mulching setting on your mower causes thatch buildup. This isn’t really true.

What many don’t know is that grass clippings left after mowing are made of 90% water. As a result, they decompose pretty fast, especially if the rate of microbial activity in the soil is healthy.

So as long as you mow regularly and use a nice sharp mulching blade, it’s very unlikely that grass clippings will pile up and cause thatch to form in your lawn.

Thatch accumulation is more likely to be caused by the factors mentioned above. These include overfertilization, imbalance in the soil’s pH and issues that are unique to your lawn’s grass species.

How do I know if my lawn needs dethatching?

Wondering whether it’s time to dethatch? You can do so by getting a feel of the lawn grass.

Just take a stroll in your yard, and determine if the ground feels firm or spongy. If it has a bouncy feel, there’s a good chance that there’s too much thatch. That bounce or cushiony feeling is the thatch layer compressing between your feet and the soil surface.

Dethatching Lawn

The surest way to determine if you need to dethatch your lawn is to physically measure the depth of thatch. You can do this by inserting your finger through the thatch layer. Next, take note of how far up it goes on your finger.

Then using a ruler or tape measure, estimate that height. If the thatch is thicker than 1 inch, it’s time to dethatch.

If you’re not too comfortable sticking your finger into the thatch, use a stick and follow the same process, or use a hand-trowel and dig up a small core of your lawn, remove it, and have a look.

You can replace the core after you’re done and it’ll look as good as new.

What is the difference between a dethatcher and scarifier?

Both of these tools are used to remove thatch, and a lot of people use the two terms interchangeably.

But the difference between a dethatcher and scarifier is taht a dethatcher uses a gentle approach whereas a scarifier is more aggressive.

A dethatcher gets rid of the top-most thatch layer. Conversely, a scarifier gets rid of all the thatch and everything below it.

Does grass grow back after dethatching?

Yes, it does. Unlike scarifying, dethatching doesn’t cause a lot of damage to your lawn so grass will continue to grow.

Experts estimate that most lawns take anywhere between 3 and 4 weeks to recover from dethatching. Depending upon the health of your lawn, and the time of year when you dethatch your yard your mileage may vary.

As I advised earlier, it’s good to reseed any bare spots created by this process. After dethatching I recommend spreading seed with your fertilizer spreader, and giving your lawn some appropriate starter fertilizer and water it well for a few weeks to encourage grass growth.

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Sarah’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

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