If your lawn has a thick layer of thatch – organic material that sits above the surface of the soil – dethatching it can help make your lawn healthier.
How to dethatch your lawn
There are two main ways to dethatch your lawn:
- Manually with a leaf rake, garden rake, or thatching rake.
- With a Power Dethatcher.
Smaller to medium sized lawns can be manually dethatched. Manually dethatching, although time consuming, tends to be easier on your lawn compared to power dethatching. In general, if your thatch does not exceed one inch, you can get away with dethatching manually or simply aerating your lawn instead.
Using a power dethatcher
Before dethatching, you should mow your lawn to about half of its normal mowing height. Dethatchers can be rented, or you can hire somebody to do it for you. Much like aerators, power dethatchers resemble power lawn mowers. However, instead of one horizontal blade to cut grass, dethatchers normally have numerous vertically aligned blades that can cut to the surface of, or even slightly into the soil. They are also very heavy and will usually require more than one person to transport.
If you rent a dethatcher from a lawn company, you will need to set the depth and blade spacing. In many cases, the depth of the blades are usually set to cut up to half an inch into the ground (soil) to remove the thatch and to scratch and stir the surface of the soil. For blade spacing, tougher and cool season grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass typically require around one to two inches. Once you get a hang of it, you can make adjustments as you go. Remember to make a few passes with crossing patterns for better coverage.
Once you are finished, be sure to remove all thatch and debris from your lawn. Once your lawn is dethatched, it is usually a great time to fertilize your lawn and/or reseed it. Remember, the greater the cut into the soil and thatch removal, the greater the soil exposure, especially to the grass roots. If you decide to reseed, follow-up by raking the seeds into the soil, add fertilizer, and apply a light covering of organic matter such as compost and/or sand. Additionally, it is a good idea to give your lawn extra watering in the days after dethatching, especially during times of high heat and droughts.
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