How to Properly Dethatch Your Lawn

Is your water running off without penetrating the grass? It may be time to dethatch your lawn. Keep reading to understand the what, how, and when to properly dethatch your yard to ensure it looks better than ever this spring. 

Dethatching Defined

Thatch is a layer of living and dead grass stems and roots that forms between the green vegetation and the soil surface. While some thatch (½ inch or less) is beneficial, if it becomes too thick, it can become detrimental to your grass. A thin layer of thatch helps to keep moisture in the soil and protect it from extreme temperatures. However, if the thatch becomes too thick (¾ inch or more), it can increase the risk of pests and diseases within your lawn, as well as limit the amount of oxygen and moisture that your grass can obtain. By removing this thick layer of decaying plant material, dethatching allows more air, water, and nutrients to reach your soil, as well as helping your lawn to drain more efficiently. 

How to Dethatch Your Lawn

  • Small grass areas or lawns can be dethatched using a thatching rake. For larger areas or yards, consider purchasing or renting a dethatcher.
  • Before dethatching, mow your lawn to half its normal height.
  • A thatching rake, similar to a regular rake, is a sharp-tined rake that rips the thatch out of the lawn. Rake the grass, digging deep to loosen and remove thatch. 
  • When using a dethatcher, ensure to flag any irrigation lines, sprinkler heads, or other hidden objects throughout the lawn. 
  • When buying/renting a dethatcher, ensure that the blades are set to cut no deeper than ½ inch into the soil. Additionally, know that a dethatcher is heavy, so you will need help loading and unloading it as well as a truck to move it. 
  • After carefully reading the equipment manual and dethatching your lawn, your yard will look ragged; but don’t panic. Rake up the loosened thatch and remove it from your lawn. 
  • After cleaning up excess debris, make sure that you keep your yard well-watered to encourage new and improved grass growth. 
  • Finally, it is encouraged to fertilize and aerate your lawn to help it recover. You should see signs of new growth and recovery 3-4 weeks after dethatching. 

When to Dethatch Your Lawn

Dethatching is best received when your grass is actively growing. With moderately moist soil, early spring is an ideal time to dethatch your lawn so that it can recover and look luscious as ever for the upcoming summer months. For cool-season grasses, dethatching is recommended during early spring or early fall. Late spring and early summer are better for warm-season grasses.

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