Lawn Care

How To Dethatch A Lawn?

Usually, after a hard winter with dense of snow cover, thatch develops in the lawn. This article will provide you a lot of information on how to manage thatch and how to dethatch a lawn when it becomes a problem.

Before going through the dethatching process, let’s have a look at what thatch actually is, causes of its formation and its effect.

What is thatch?

Like other plants, grass has an underground root system topped by a green and growing above ground shoot. Thatch is a layer of a combination of some living and mostly dead roots, stem and shoot. The turfgrass researchers have concluded that when soil produces organic debris faster than it can be mangled, thatch starts to build-up.

Thatch-healthy-grass-lawn thatcher

What Causes Thatch?

Thatch forms naturally, but a variety of factors are responsible for rapid thatch formation. Some of them are:

  • Fertilizing the lawn with too much nitrogen
  • Overwatering which helps the grassroots to stay in the soil
  • Compacted or and heavy, poorly drained soil
  • Frequent and excess use of insecticides which kills off microbes and earthworms and break down organic particles in the soil
  • Excess use of fungicides which also kills off microbes and decay organic matter


Impacts of Thatch on The Soil

Thatch, a tightly woven layer under the visible grass blades, lies on top of the soil. It is important to know that grass clipping usually not liable to thatch build-up because, at the proper soil condition, soil microbes easily break them. Having limited thatch in your lawn is actually beneficial.

Thatch thicker less than 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch, contributes to lawn health condition in the following ways:

  • It is a good lawn protector
  • It provides insulation against excess temperatures
  • It acts as insulation against variations in soil moisture
  • It covers the soil and slow water loss
  • It decreases soil compaction
  • It improves soil tolerance to foot


Problems Caused By Thatch

In general, a little amount of thatch is desirable and good for the lawn. It promotes the buffer zone and enhances the resilience of the lawn. On the other hand, thick thatch layer is bad and create serious problems. Some of the bad effects of a thicker layer thatch are:

  • As the thatch heats up and dries quickly, it causes the roots becoming dry and damage.
  • It prevents fertilizer and water from reaching the soil.
  • It prevents sunray from reaching lower grass blades.
  • It creates an uneven lawn.
  • It holds moisture against grass and stimulates disease.

What Are The  Steps Of Dethatch A Lawn?

To dethatch a lawn, follow the below steps:

  1. Adjust the height of the mower. Usually half its normal mowing height.
  2. Mow the entire lawn.
  3. Use thatch rake to comb thatch from grass, if your lawn is small.
  4. Use power rake to remove thatch from grass, if you have a larger lawn (more than 3,000-square feet).
  5. If your lawn has thick thatch (more than 1.5 inches), firstly remove the thatch partially and then allow the lawn to fully recover before the next session. If you remove too much thatch at a time, this will do more harm than good.
  6. Collect the thatch using leaf rake.
  7. Place the thatch onto the tarp.
  8. Spread grass seeds and rake into the grass.
  9. Apply lawn fertilizer using a drop spreader.
  10. To keep the lawn moist water regularly.

Lawn Dethatching (2)

What Are The Ways of Dethatch A Lawn?

If the thatch layer becomes more than ½ -inch, you need to dethatch your lawn. There are three options:

  • Manual dethatching
  • Mechanical dethatching
  • Hire a professional lawn care service

Manual Dethatching

  • Suitable for small lawns
  • Works effectively when the thatch layer is less than one inch.
  • Causes minimum amount of stress to a lawn.
  • Manual thatching rake works well for a small lawn.
  • It causes the minimum amount of stress to a lawn.
  • Set the blades to cut 1/8 to 1/4- inch into the soil if you use a vertical mower to dethatch average amount of thatch.

A rake with hard tines doesn’t work efficiently to pull the thatch to the soil surface. Some specialized rakes featuring sharpened tines do the jobs perfectly to lift thatch to the soil surface. Like a traditional rake, use the same motion with a dethatching rake. Allow the tines to dig into the thatch and pull it upward to loosen and lift. If you do the process correctly, you’ll feel the root separating from the soil.

Mechanical Dethatching

If your lawn is more than 3,000 square feet, the easiest way to dethatch your lawn is using a vertical lawn mower or power rake.

This type of tool features vertical blades instead of horizontal cutting blades. The blade slices the thatch and lifts it to the lawn surface.


You should set the blade to a specific spacing based on grass type.

You also need to adjust the cutting depth.

Ask the rental agency to help you set the blade spacing and the cutting depth based on the type of grass and the thickness of the thatch.

Hire A Professional

If you aren’t skilled enough or uncertain to use a dethatcher, you have the option to hire a lawn service company to do the job.


If you’re a lawn lover, you should know dethatching your lawn is necessary to improve its overall health. When you dethatch the lawn, you actually cut through the thatch and remove the debris. A quality lawn dethatcher may help you to make your job easy. Choosing the best dethatcher for your lawn serves your purpose best.

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