Should I Dethatch or Power Rake my lawn in the Spring?

It may still only be pushing February, but it’s never too early to start thinking about what your lawn will need when the snow melts away.  Make the most of your lawn in the summer by treating it right in the Spring.

First of all, let’s talk about Dethatching  – what is exactly?

Let’s break it down – thatch is a loose layer of dead and living shoots, stems, and roots that develops between the zone of green vegetation and the soil surface. Thatch build up begins when turf produces organic debris faster than it can be broken down.  Why is this bad?  Simply put, if the the thatch layer gets thick enough, root development won’t occur be deep enough – it will dry out quickly, hold excess water when it rains instead of absorbing it into the deeper roots and could even result in worse pest/insect issues in your lawn.

Thatch build up. Image by Kt Ter Haar via

Dethatching usually involves a riding lawnmower with a unit mounted to the front that holds several spring-like tines.  These tines dig into the thatch layer of your lawn to help dig in and open up the root systems for better fertilization and rain/water absorption.

Dethatcher attachment for a riding lawnmower. photo by Agri-Fab, Inc.


What is Power Raking
Power raking is the more aggressive approach to taking thatch out of your lawn. This process involves a machine about the size of a push mower that uses mechanical flails to literally dig the thatch out of your lawn. It can pick up 2 ½ – 4 times more thatch than dethatching.  The thatch left behind is then typically picked up with a lawn mower.


Now you know the difference – but, which one is right for your lawn?
We think Ryan Such from All Terrain said it best in his blog post:  Dethatching and power raking are necessary if you feel like you have dead thatch in your lawn that is smothering or keeping your good grass from flourishing. The more you mulch your lawn, the more likely you are to need power raking or dethatching. The thicker your lawn is naturally, the more likely you are to need to power rake or dethatch.

Power raking is for fixing a problem…
If you have a thick lawn that you mulch often and have not done any thatch removal recently, you probably could use a power raking.

…And dethatching is preventative maintenance.
Dethatching is for the lawn that doesn’t really have a thatch issue per se, but has an owner who wants to avoid one!


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