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How Often Should You Dethatch Your Lawn

Should I Apply Fertilize On My Lawn After Dethatch

Should You Dethatch Your Lawn?

The best time to really apply fertilizer on your lawn is immediately after you dethatch.

Though, one of the best recommended fertilizer is the liquid one.

Dont apply the nitrogen to the grass until they are grown, and green up first.

Applying Nitrogen when your lawn is dominant, will only encourage the weeds to develop and possibly choke the grass.


Ensure the liquid fertilizer contains Phosphorus and Potassium without Nitrogen at all. Why? Its because Nitrogen will compound your lawn problem.

The Best Time To Dethatch

The period of active growth and warming temperatures of spring are ideal for dethatching, but exactly when in spring depends on the type of turf you have.

Both warm-season and cold-season turf types should be dethatched after they are actively growing. A general rule of thumb is to wait until they have been mowed a couple of times. For warm-season turf, this typically happens in late spring to early summer. For cold-season turf, the right time is usually early spring. Cold-season grasses can also be de-thatched in early fall while the grass is still growing, as it needs time to re-establish before the frost season.

Common warm-season grasses include Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda, Bahia and Centipede. Common cold-season grasses include Kentucky bluegrass, rough bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass.

Why Dethatch Your Lawn In Late Spring

Experts say late spring/early summer is a great time to dethatch. Dethatching too early in the spring may damage new crowns, which is at soil level where the grass shoots and roots meet. Midsummer dethatching puts additional stress on grass during hot, dry periods. Dethatching your lawn in mid- to late fall is too late in the season because it leaves the grass weak and damaged during the winter, and the lawn might not recover in the spring.


Here are four benefits to dethatching your lawn before summer settles in.

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Dethatching With A Power Rake

Power rakes are similar to walk-behind lawn mowers and have rotating tines that slice into the grass/turf. These tines dig into the thatch and go all the way into the soil to pull pieces up and loosen/rake your lawn thatch, bringing it to the surface of your lawn.

These power rakes are mainly good for thin layers of thatch. Power rakes are not a great option for sensitive or young grass. You would want to use this on strong grass that you arent worried to rip out, and I usually recommend overseeding afterward.

Most people who use a power rake will rent a professional one from their local hardward store or box store, but you can purchase one if you know youll be detatching your lawn pretty regularly.


My Lawn Dethatcher Setup

I personally own this Greenworks Dethatcher, and it works really well. I dont like that its corded, but I own a Dewalt portable power station, so when its time to dethatch my yard I just strap that on top, and plug the Greenworks power rake right into that which makes it cord-free, running on my Dewalt batteries.

Im really happy with this set-up, but I probably wouldnt recommend the Greenworks Dethatcher to someone with a large yard who doesnt have a battery-powered generator setup like mine. Dragging a cord around a big yard can be frustrating.

If you have a small yard, the Greenworks tool is a great value and probably a better option than renting.

How Often Should You Dethatch Your Lawn

How Often To Dethatch Your Lawn : Power Rake Vs Dethatcher Differences ...

Thatch removal is an often overlooked but essential lawn maintenance technique performed by either manual or mechanical means to preserve a healthy lawn surface and bolster active growing conditions for your turfgrass.

Your lawn should be dethatched every 2 3 years, or when the thatch layer exceeds ½ inch in thickness. Some lawn varieties need dethatching more than others as they are thicker and more prone to holding a thicker thatch layer.


To check if your lawn is due for dethatching, poke a finger into the grass, and push down to note the depth of the thatch layer. You can measure the thatch thickness by removing a wedge of your lawn with a sharp garden tool and placing a ruler against the profile to determine the thatch thickness.

What we cover

  • Tips on how to dethatch your lawn
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    Should I Aerate Or Dethatch My Lawn First

    Alex K.Affiliate Disclaimer: My content may contain links to products I use and love. As an Amazon Associate and participant in various other affiliate programs, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you from qualifying purchases. I only recommend products I personally vetted!

    Both aerating and dethatching are important practices when it comes to proper lawn care. It helps with root penetration and easy flow of air, water, and nutrients in the core for better root growth. So, should you aerate or dethatch?


    If your soil is healthy with enough microbial activity, you may only need to dethatch once a season and probably aerate once or twice a year depending on the type of soil you have.

    If youre growing grass in sandy soil, youll need to aerate just once per season, but if it is clay soil, twice a season may be the best option for you.

    How To Tell If You Have Too Much Thatch

    If your thatch is less than ahalf-inchh thick, its not a problem. Lucky you! You dont have to do anything.

    How can you tell? You measure it, of course. Poke around the grass until you find the brown layer near the bottom of the grass blade. With your finger or a stick, poke a hole through the brown layer to the top of the soil. Measure the thickness of the thatch.


    Is it more than half an inch thick? Let the dethatching begin.

    Here are a couple more clues: if only the very top part of the grass is green and the rest is brown, or if you mow and your lawn looks brown and scalped, you probably have a thatch problem.

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    Preventing Thatch Buildup From Returning

    Keeping the thatch from building up so fast can keep your lawn looking better longer. It will also keep you from having to rip and tear at it with dangerous machines.

    Know that some of the most-popular grass species are the most likely to have thatch. Kentucky bluegrass, for example, grows aggressively and quickly establishes itself. People love it for that reason, but it also means bluegrass produces more thatch.


    Those are best for areas that see a lot of foot traffic, like sports fields. Choosing or mixing in some perennial ryegrass or tall fescue will cut down on thatch production in your lawn.

    Test your soil periodically for its nutrient levels and acidity. Find out how much lime you need to keep those levels where theyll promote healthy lawn growth and microbial populations that break down thatch.

    Good watering and mowing techniques, and proper fertilization can also hold down thatch. Make sure not to set your lawn mower too low, and dont fertilize too heavily, which helps thatch build up rapidly.

    What To Check To Dethatch A Lawn At The Right Time

    DON’T DETHATCH Your LAWN Before Watching – Your Questions Answered

    While its important to understand the guidelines on when to dethatch grass, you should always check the layer of thatch before going ahead.

    A thin layer of thatch is part of a healthy lawn, keeping the soil moist and insulating against extreme temperatures, says Lucy Searle. Its only when thatch builds up so that air and moisture cant reach the soil and the roots of the grass that it becomes a problem.

    To check the depth of the layer of thatch, use a trowel or spade to dig up a small amount of both grass and soil from the lawn.

    Thatch layer greater than half an inch in depth? Then its time for dethatching.

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    Dethatching Machines Tools Techniques

    Dethatching machines come in various forms. And although some lawn services and rental companies use the terms interchangeably, the machines perform dethatching by different means, with varying levels of intensity.

    Here are some of the most common dethatching techniques, and the power dethatchers that perform them. What they have in common are spinning metal pieces that pierce and lift the thatch from the lawn. Some employ slicers, others metal tines . Some are stand-alone, powered units, others are made to be dragged behind a tractor or riding mower.

    When To Use Pesticides

    Avoid using pesticides as much as possible. Many pesticides affect the microbial and earthworm populations that are involved in decomposing the thatch layer.

    Use pesticides only when a pest problem has been clearly identified and the pesticide is necessary and known to be effective.

    CAUTION: Mention of a pesticide or use of a pesticide label is for educational purposes only. Always follow the pesticide label directions attached to the pesticide container you are using. Remember, the label is the law.

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    How Do I Dethatch My Lawn

    There are several ways to dethatch a lawn. For lawns with moderate levels of thatch, aerating may do the trick. Or use a cavex rake which has unusual semicircular tines. Those knifelike blades cut through the sod and pull out thatch. For large lawns with serious thatch problems, the most effective solution is a vertical mower . Resembling a heavy-duty power mower but with a series of spinning vertical knives, it cuts through thatch.

    Dethatching often creates a large volume of debris that must be removed. If the debris is weed-free and you have not used herbicides or pesticides on your lawn, compost it. Or check to see if your city has a composting program for yard waste.

    Difference Between Aerating And Dethatching

    How Often Should You Dethatch A Lawn : Why, When and How to Dethatch ...

    Some people tend to confuse aerating with dethatching. Invariably, theyre not the same at all, nor do they perform the same function on the lawn.

    Aeration is a process of ensuring proper circulation of air, water and nutrients in the soil.

    It involves using an Aerator to create holes on the earth with spikes, by removing at least 1 by 2 cores of the soil.

    Aeration is very important because it helps to improve drainage and reduce soil compactness or density.

    Aeration is the first step to take when preparing the ground for grass seeding. You can either aerate with a machine or manually.

    While dethatching is a process of removing over dense thatch from the lawn, which includes the living and dead stems, roots, and weed.

    Dethatching allows the lawn to absorb enough water, air, and nutrients that will make the lawn grow thicker and healthy.

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    How Much Thatch Is Too Much

    About half an inch of thatch on your turf is beneficial because it contains microorganisms that break down organic matter into nutrients for your grass.

    However, when it is more than 0.5 inches, the core becomes too tough for water to penetrate and your turf will easily develop what is called shallow root syndrome.

    This is when youll notice roots starting to coil up and growing closer to the surface where theres easy access to water instead of growing deeper into the soil.

    A lawn with a thick layer of thatch becomes less tolerant to drought, prone to turf diseases, and will grow thin easily due to inadequate supply of nutrients for healthy growth.

    Here are more problems with thick thatch:

    • Poor fertilizer penetration into the soil which means poor feeding of grass.
    • Pesticides such as grub control may not penetrate deep enough to be effective in getting rid of the pests.
    • Grass fungus becomes common due to the accumulation of harmful fungi feeding on the debris.

    The major reason for the slow decomposition of dead grass and debris on your lawn is usually too much use of chemicals for lawn care such as chemical weed killers or synthetic fertilizers.

    What Happens If You Dont Dethatch Your Lawn

    Ideally, thatch decomposes at the same rate it accumulates. This means that if you have the perfect lawn, you will never need to dethatch. However, aspects such as compacted soil, overwatering your lawn, underwatering your lawn, cold soil temperatures, use of fertilizer and pesticides, not removing grass clippings and more can cause thatch to accumulate faster than it decomposes. When this happens, the thatch will suffocate and starve your lawn.

    For keen observers, the first sign you might notice is a spongy feeling when walking across your grass. More than likely, though, you will realize you have a thatch issue when you see patches of your lawn losing their vibrant green coloring. As the situation gets worse, your lawn will begin to thin, and it may start to develop bare spots.

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    How Do I Know If My Lawn Needs Aeration

    Aeration is commonly needed when excessive thatch has built up on your lawn. You can check for thatch accumulation by inserting a screwdriver or soil probe into the lawn. If the probe meets resistance after an inch or so of penetraton, your lawn may have an excessive thatch layer.

    A second way to determine if your lawn needs aeration is to simply look at it. Thick, lush, healthy lawns rarely require aeration because their dense grass roots have little difficulty penetrating the soil. A lawn that has an open, spongy appearance, on the other hand, may need aeration.

    Why Does Timing Matter When Dethatching

    Do Not Dethatch Your Lawn

    Dethatching can be harsh on your lawn. While it wont kill your grass, your lawn may require time to recuperate. You may also uncover thin spots that need to be overseeded or bare spots that need to be patched. If you dethatch after the peak growing season, your lawn might not be able to recover until next season. If you dethatch too early, your lawn wont be growing fast enough to recover until peak growing season arrives.

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    Why Is Thatch Bad For A Lawn

    The presence of thatch in moderate proportions promotes lawn growth. However, too much thatch provides the perfect breeding grounds for fungi and insect pests. The destructive effects of a thick layer of thatch results in a weakened lawn and directly contributes to the premature death of turfgrass.

    Excess thatch can hurt your lawn in so many ways. Here are a few examples:

  • Excess thatch traps grassroots within the thatch layer, resulting in shallow root development, which leaves your lawn defenseless against drought and extreme temperatures.
  • An overabundance of thatch encourages insect activity and disease by restricting the soil intake of oxygen, water, fertilizer, and pest control treatments.
  • A thick layer of thatch retains water and encourages high humidity, which fosters disease.
  • A thick layer of thatch can result in scalping.
  • Remember, once thatch is established, it quickly creates conditions that promote its growth. To prevent this, lawn owners must adopt preventive thatch control practices.

    Power Equipment For Dethatching

    A dethatching machine has blades that cut through and remove thatch to the soil surface. Those with knives or blades are preferred over those that use rake-like tines. Rent a dethatcher from a big-box store or equipment rental company. Theyre heavy, so youll need a truck and a friend or two to lend a hand.

    Follow the manufacturers instructions for using the dethatcher. Make sure the lawn is slightly moist, but not wet. Rock-hard soil is difficult to penetrate. Go over your lawn once, like your mowing. If theres a lot of thatch, you may need to make another pass in the opposite direction to remove it all.

    Youre going to have a lot of material to rake and remove. Depending on the size of your yard and the amount of thatch, it could be a SIGNIFICANT amount. You can add the debris to your compost pile or use it as mulch around trees and shrubs ONLY if it has not been treated with an herbicide. Itll add organic matter to the soil as it breaks down. After raking, thoroughly water the lawn. Avoid a lot of traffic on the lawn, over- or under-watering, and chemical applications until normal growth has resumed.

    Prepare yourself. Your lawn is going to look, well terrible, awful, ratty, or ragged for several weeks after dethatching. If it does, you did it correctly!

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    How Often Should You Aerate And Dethatch Your Lawn

    Aeration and dethatching are two processes that can improve the condition of your lawn. Aerating removes a layer of natural debris known as thatch that blocks the grass roots. Dethatching is best done when thatch is more than 0.5 inches thick and has become a barrier to grass growth. Dethatching is different from aeration, which removes thatch by poking holes in the lawn and pulling out plugs of soil. Dethatching removes thatch by forcing water and nutrients into the lawn.

    Dethatching is an intensive process, and it can damage your lawn. Ideally, you should perform this process during growing season, when the grass has the best chance of recovering. Avoid the process during droughts or heat waves, and make sure the soil is dry. In some cases, its best to aerate and dethatch your grass twice a year, but this will depend on your lawn type.

    Dethatching is a detailed process that requires the use of a large machine. Aeration removes cores of soil and speeds up the breakdown of existing thatch. A professional aerator will inspect and check the lawn for proper results every time.

    In addition to aeration, dethatching removes debris from the lawn and makes it easier for aeration. Often, you can tell if your lawn needs this process by measuring the brown layer of thatch that covers it.


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