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How to Dethatch a Lawn for Better Growth

Mukulika Mukherjee Jun 30, 2019
Dethatching refers to the periodic removal of plant residues that form a layer above the roots of the grass grown in lawns. But how to dethatch a lawn and can you do it yourself? Does dethatching your lawn really help? Just go through to find the answers.
It is common knowledge that to keep your lawn pretty and beautiful, you must mow the lawn and clip the plants periodically. The debris formed as a result of these activities, begin to get deposited on the soil and over a period of time, form a thick layer just below the blades of the turf grass.
This is called thatch and a thin layer is useful to the soil in many ways. However, a layer that is thicker than half an inch, does more harm than good and needs to be removed. The process of removal of the layer of thatch from the soil is called dethatching. Here we learn the ways of dethatching a lawn and its benefits.

When to Dethatch a Lawn

Before you begin with the process of dethatching your lawn, it is very important to ensure if it is the right time to do so. To determine if your lawn needs dethatching, dig out a portion of the soil and check for the presence of dead grass and other plant remains that appear slightly brownish in color.
If you find any, measure the thickness of the layer. If it is more than an inch, your lawn sure needs dethatching, and you should make preparations for the same. Another way to find out is to check if the soil is retaining too much water.
Soil covered with a thick layer of thatch has a tendency to retain excess water. However, it is recommended that you carry out the process of dethatching only during certain months of the year when the climate is most favorable for the growth of grass. Usually, this is during the autumn months i.e. August to October.

How to Dethatch a Lawn

You can either dethatch your lawn manually using a hand held rake, or use a pull-behind rake that can be attached to your riding lawn mower. Manual dethatching is recommended when you have a lawn that's small and the thickness of the thatch is less.
A dethatching rake has several teeth that dig into the soil and pull out the thatch. Move the rake back and forth applying the required amount of pressure so that the teeth of the rake dig deep enough to pull the thatch layer out.
For larger areas, use a dethatcher or a rake attached to the rear end of a lawn mower. Run the dethatcher or the lawn mower over the entire area from which you wish to remove the thatch, carefully avoiding irrigation pipes, sprinklers, etc.
Remember that if it is a very thick layer of thatch that you're trying to remove, do not make an attempt to do it all at once. Instead, clear away all the thatch in two or three attempts. This is because dethatching that is too vigorous might cause damage to the roots of the lawn grass.
After dethatching your lawn, you'll find a lot of debris to be cleared. You can put it into the compost pit if you have one. To help your lawn recover from the damage caused by the dethatching process, add fertilizers to the soil, water your lawn at regular intervals and throw in some grass seeds to make up for the grass damaged during the process.
Keep these simple pointers in mind while you carry out the process of dethatching your lawn.
  • Do not thatch your lawn too frequently. This is because a little amount of thatch is essential for the soil to retain adequate amounts of water.
  • Mowing your lawn at regular intervals can prevent the formation of a thick layer of thatch.
  • Be careful while digging out the soil sample for measuring the thickness of thatch.
  • If you find that the layer of thatch is so thick that you would need an automatic dethatcher, borrow one. You can easily get such equipment on rent.
  • Before you begin, test on a small patch of the soil to make sure that the soil water content is optimum for dethatching. Too much water in the soil will cause the grass to be pulled out as well, along with the thatch.
Now that you have an idea about what is thatch and how to dethatch a lawn, you'll sure be able to take care of your lawn in a better way. So the next time you find thatch in your lawn, get it removed for good!