What is a Dethatcher?

A healthy lawn is not something that pops up on its own. To get healthy dense grass on a lawn takes some serious effort. Excellent site selection and maintenance of a lawn go a long way in ensuring that you get the desired overall outlook on your yard

A dethatcher, in simple terms refers to a implement that is used to remove thatch that lie beneath the grass. It is made up of a series of blades that have been arranged vertically which cut through the lawn’s thatch layer. Once cut, the thatch is loosened and it is brought to the lawn’s surface.

A lawn dethatcher is also referred to as a verticutter, scarifier, a vertical mower, a lawn sweeper, a dethatching rake, a power rake or a lawn sweeper. All these implements perform the same function.

What is Thatch?

Simply put, thatch refers to the unwanted material that accumulates in the lawn. These may include dead grass, mosses, undesirable grass or even lawn weeds. The frequency and the intensity of the dethatching required will depend on the amount or the thickness of thatch.

Thatch should be eliminated as soon as possible since it damages the lawn, and degrades its quality. The accumulated layer of moss, dirt, or dead leaves inhibit the plant’s roots access to vital nutrients, sunlight, and water. It also acts as habitat to insect infestations and spreads plant diseases. If not removed as earliest possible, the thatch will eventually cause the grass to wither. It will also hinder mowing in instances where it is too thick.

Can you Stop Thatch Formation?

The formation of thatch is a natural process that cannot be prevented. Nonetheless, you can slow down its formation by engaging in certain practices. Any practice that accelerates grass growth should be avoided as much as possible. The resulting effect of unnatural grass growth is a high rate of organic matter that does not decompose as fast as it accumulates.  This ultimately leads to thatch formation.

You can minimize the accumulation of thatch by regulating the frequency of watering your grass and using minimum amount of nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

Why is a Dethatcher is Needed?

A dethatcher is the best solution to thatch accumulation. You have two options when it comes to thatch removal depending on how severe the problem is – dethatching alone or aeration. Dethatching is ideal in situations where the thatch is not severe. It basically involves the removal of the thatch using a dethatching rake that rakes it away vigorously. A leaf rake can also be used to do the same task. A dethatching rake does two tasks – cleans up leaves and removes thatch.

Core aeration is undertaken in more severe cases of thatch accumulation. This is undertaken using an implement referred to as a lawn aerator. There are various lawn dethatchers that have both dethatching and aerator capabilities. Such a tool can easily purchased online and shipped right to your door.

Using a Dethatcher

It takes skill and experience to get the best results when dethatching, but as we all know, practice makes perfect. Timing is everything and the way you carry out the operation also matters.  The best time to dethatch a lawn is during middle to late spring, since this is the time when grass is actively growing and thus will have enough time to regrow.

To remove thatch exhaustively, mow the grass slightly lower than usual and ensure the soil surface is moist. If dethatching creeping grasses, set the blades approximately an inch apart and position them deep enough so that they cut about one inch into the soil. Note: If working on bunching grass types, set the dethatcher blades higher and wider apart.

For thick and stubborn thatch, run the lawn dethatcher across the yard in one direction, then make another pass but this time perpendicular to the first pass. After dethatching, the yard should be raked up and debris removed. Thereafter it should be aerated, fertilizer applied, watered and then pre-emergence herbicide applied.  

How to Minimize Dethatcher Usage

You can minimize the frequency with which you use your dethatcher and extend its lifespan if you practice excellent cultural care and maintenance to your yard. First off, cut the grass to the height recommended for that particular species. You should also remove no more than a third of the grass on a single dethatching. Excessive application of fertilizer and too much watering of the grass should be avoided as well. All these encourage thatch buildup and will only shorten the usability of your lawn dethatcher.

The type of grass will also affect how often your yard should be dethatched. For instance, Kentucky bluegrass and bent grass usually accumulate thatch quickly when compared to other types of grass. For this type of grass, annual dethatching is required. On the flipside, grass types such as ryegrass and tall fescue do not accumulate thatch fast and thus require dethatching once every few years.

How to Save Money

You can quickly and easily purchase your own dethatcher online over on Amazon.com. Alternatively, getting a cheaper alternative makes sense when your pocket does not allow you to purchase one. The thatching rake is a more affordable option and is usually hand held. You can also use a coring machine as a dethatcher. These implements are not so popular since they are not readily available but they are just as effective as dethatchers.

Dethatching should begin as soon as you realize there is too much thatch in your lawn. Some of the simplest ways to tell include: spongy soft grass, thin and dying grass, dry spots, and brown discoloration. Dethatching should be done correctly for it to be effective.

A Final Word

A dethatcher will help transform your yard into and impressive first sight to your visitors, and of course – yourself. Dethatch your lawn correctly and at the right time to get the best results. You should also understand your grass type so as to manage it appropriately.  Anyone can learn to dethatch if you have the desire and drive to learn. However, if you find this overwhelming then I recommend hiring a professional to undertake the task on your behalf.