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How to Dethatch a Lawn

Green blades of grass.

If you care about the health of your lawn, you need to know about dethatching, which can help ensure that your grass always has easy access to the nutrients it needs to look its best.

Let’s take a closer look at what dethatching is, how to dethatch a lawn and when it’s time to tackle this task.

What Is Dethatching?

Dethatching keeps your lawn healthy and green.On your lawn, there is a layer of organic debris that accumulates between the soil and the base of each grass plant. This layer is known as thatch, and it consists of everything from mulched leaves to grass clippings. Dethatching is the process of thinning a lawn’s thatch layer to protect the health of the grass.

Certain types of debris break down very quickly, but others can take a long time to decompose. When the buildup exceeds the breakdown, your lawn’s thatch layer will grow thicker.

Having some thatch on your lawn is beneficial, and a layer that’s less than half an inch thick is ideal. This will help keep the soil moist and prevent big swings in soil temperatures that could harm the health of your grass.

But if the thatch level gets too thick, it can cause problems. A layer that’s one inch or more can prevent water and fertilizer from getting to the roots of the grass. This traps the roots of the grass and makes it vulnerable to heat. Too much thatch can also cause the grass plant to suffocate from lack of air, or it could harm your lawn further by hosting insect pests.

If the thatch layer gets too thick, dethatching becomes necessary.

How to Dethatch a Lawn

You have three options for dethatching a lawn:

  1. Use a manual dethatching rake. These are heavy rakes with short tines, and they’re designed to remove thatch as you rake. They’re best suited to small lawns, light thatch and thatch maintenance.
  2. Use a power rake. A power rake is similar to a lawnmower. It has tines that rotate and claw away thatch buildup. A power rake is ideal for lawns with light layers of thatch.
  3. Opt for a vertical mower. Vertical mowers are also known as verticutters. These devices have vertically oriented blades that penetrate the thatch layer, yanking thatch to the surface with each pass. These tools are best suited for lawns with very thick thatch layers.

Keep in mind that if you’re too aggressive with your thatch removal efforts, or you get rid of too much thatch at one time, you can damage the grass. For this reason, if you have a very thick layer of thatch, you may want to consider having it removed by a professional.

When Should You Dethatch Your Lawn?

If your lawn’s thatch level is more than one or two inches thick, it’s time to dethatch.

To check the thickness of the thatch level, use a spade to remove a small wedge of your lawn’s grass and soil. You’ll be able to easily measure the thatch layer using this sample.

Regular dethatching is essential for healthy grass, and combined with other elements of proper lawn care, it can yield a lawn that your neighbors will envy.

Check out all the lawn care equipment available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to dethatch your lawn, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.


Warren Clarke View All

I'm a writer and editor who's a regular contributor with the New York Daily News and Carfax, and my content has appeared in over 20 publications. I've written content that covers industries such as automotive, medical, insurance, healthcare, real estate, plumbing, pest control, dental and hospitality.

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