How to Dethatch a Lawn
The Simple Solution to Healthy, Dethatched Grass
Go outside and look at your lawn. Does everything look fine? Take a closer look at the grass. See any discoloration? If you were to dig out a small piece of dirt with a hand shovel, you might notice a layer of gunk between the live grass and the soil.
This is called thatch, and it could be suffocating your lawn. Read on to learn more about thatch and how to dethatch your lawn for greener, healthier grass.
What Is Thatch?
Thatch is a layer of dead pieces of roots and grass--any organic matter--that is not easily penetrated.
A thin layer of thatch is good for your lawn, providing protection against damaging sun rays, heat, and humidity. If you have more than 1/2 inch of it, though, it becomes too thick and dense. It'll then block sunlight and prevent grass roots from establishing themselves in the soil. As a result, they may become tangled in the dead grass.
Eventually, this thatch layer creates an impenetrable barrier that also prevents water, oxygen, and nutrients from reaching the soil, killing the grass. That's why we recommend periodic lawn dethatching, which means the removal of thatch.
Is Dethatching Necessary?
Many people let their yard go for years without ever dethatching. Sooner or later, though, thatch will hurt your grass. You may start noticing more and more brown spots on your lawn the longer you ignore the problem.
Look for these signs to determine whether you need to do some lawn dethatching:
- Is your lawn spongy when you walk on it?
- When you weave your fingers through the lawn, do you notice a layer of thatch?
- Have you measured thatch at more than a half inch?
If you’re seeing any of this evidence, time to get a dethatcher.
How to Dethatch Your Lawn
Dethatching is a process of combing your lawn to remove thatch.
There are several ways to go about clearing thatch from your lawn. You can simply use a garden rake and rake away the thatch. Alternatively, you can find a custom-made dethatching rake that works particularly well.
What is a Dethatcher?
If you are interested in saving yourself some time and effort, you can get a motorized walk-behind dethatcher. You just push it along, walk behind it, and it quickly takes care of dethatching your entire yard.
A tow-behind dethatcher is another option. Simply attach it to a a riding lawn mower so you can cut your grass and dethatch simultaneously! You can also connect a tow-behind dethatcher to other machines, like tractors.
When Should I Dethatch My Lawn?
The best time to dethatch a lawn depends on your grass type. For warm-season grasses like Bermuda grass, Centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, and Zoysiagrass, late spring and early summer are the best times to dethatch. Do it after you’ve mowed once or twice into the year.
For cool-season turf like Kentucky Bluegrass, Ryegrass, Bentgrass, and Fescues, early spring or early fall is the best time for dethatching. You want the grass to have sufficient time to grow and be reestablished before frost arrives.
Dethatching vs Aerating
Some people confuse dethatching with aeration, although the two lawncare methods work together to keep your grass healthy.
Aeration involves poking holes in the ground to let the soil breathe, and it is necessary if you have very dense, compact dirt. Aerating the soil won't do anything to remove that layer of thatch, however, which is where dethatching comes in.
If you aerate without dethatching, your soil will still lack oxygen and nutrients due to the thatch layer. If you dethatch without aerating, the soil will be too hard to allow enough water and nutrients in. Do both for a healthy lawn.
Free Up Your Lawn!
Thatch is like dandruff on your lawn, so get rid of it to let oxygen into the soil. The resulting greener grass will be your lawn's way of saying thank you for a breath of fresh air.
Check Out Our Perfect Lawn Guides
Main | Watering | Aerating | Dethatching | Fertilizing | Mowing | Planting Grass Seed | Laying Sod | Prepping for Winter | Fixing Brown Spots