How to Dethatch a Lawn

DIY for Lawn Care

Dethatching a Lawn

Over time, loose or discarded stems, roots, clippings and organic debris sift down between the blades of grass, accumulating into an insulating barrier known as “Thatch”. And while a thin layer of thatch can help to limit weed growth, reduce normal ground water evaporation, and insulate against damage from the elements… a little goes a long way!

When it comes to thatch accumulation, generally a ½ inch is good. Heavier thatch can prevent water, air, and nutrients from reaching the soil resulting in inadequate root growth and a stressed lawn. And as it provides a barrier against sunlight and air flow; a thicker layer of thatch can provide a safe haven for fungus and insect pests.

When this occurs, it’s time to….DETHATCH!


Dethatching is simply the loosening and removal of excess thatch. While not a particularly complex operation, it can rob your day of time better spent elsewhere. Here are a few of the most common options for dethatching:

One of the the most cost effective methods would be to use a metal tine rake. And while this will work, the job can end up being a time consuming ordeal, often requiring several passes to adequately remove excess thatch.

A somewhat less strenuous method would be to use a special de-thatching rake. Unlike a normal rake which is designed to collect larger, loose debris from the top layer of the grass, a de-thatching rake has a series of heavier “blades” which pull the thatch free. Ideally, this would be used for small to moderate areas.

There are also several dethatchers and dethatching attachments available on the market. These devices utilize a series of spring steel “tines” which act much in the same way a hair comb for your lawn would. The tines are set to connect uniformly with the thatch layer.

As the unit is pulled, the tines hook into the thatch. The springs tension builds until the thatch gives way. By snapping forward, the thatch is essentially tossed free. Pretty simple..a quick clean up and your lawn is good to go.

– Bill Brown

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About Bill Brown 12 Articles
Bill is the head of content creation for the LawnMowerPros Blog and DIY section. He’s been in the Outdoor Power Equipment Industry for years and he’s still learning new things everyday. You can often find him creating featured articles, DIY guides, videos, graphics and much more.