The Secret to a Lively Lawn? Dethatching!

Published May 19, 2021

Intro:
A thin layer of thatch is good—about a half-inch or so, which can help maintain steady soil moisture and temperature. The problem arises when thatch grows thicker, and it’s time to dethatch your lawn. Dethatching is the process of removing this thick layer of decaying plant material so air, water, nutrients, and fertilizer can reach the soil better. It also helps your lawn drain more effectively.

It’s spring, and homeowners everywhere probably have a long checklist of activities – getting out mowers, planting new flowers, maybe even some brush removal.  Winters in Oklahoma can be hard on lawns, and sometimes it can take a little effort to dig out from the effects of a hard winter!  At GreenPro Outdoor Services we find ourselves working with clients on all sorts of lawn-related tasks as spring arrives, but one task that’s easy for homeowners to overlook?  Dethatching!

Thatch is a layer between the grass and the soil made up of interwoven accumulated dead and living grass shoots, stems, crowns, and roots. It creates a barrier between soil and green grass. A thin layer of thatch is good—about a half-inch or so, which can help maintain steady soil moisture and temperature. The problem arises when thatch grows thicker.

Too much thatch can weaken your lawn.   Sometimes thatch builds up too fast for natural processes to break it down. It forms a barrier, keeping moisture and air from going where your grass needs it.  As a result, your grass can die out, and you may not even understand why.  If you’re dealing with thicker, harder layers of thatch around your property, it’s time to dethatch your lawn.

Dethatching is the process of removing this thick layer of decaying plant material so air, water, nutrients, and fertilizer can reach the soil better.  It also helps your lawn drain more effectively.  Overall, your lawn may well benefit from dethatching, especially if you do it in the spring, before the onset of summer.

There is a process to dethatching your lawn that we suggest our clients follow:

  1. Use a specialized thatch rake on small lawns, or rent a dethatcher (also known as a vertical cutter, verticutter, or power rake) to tackle larger lawns.
  2. Mow your lawn to half its normal height before you begin dethatching.
  3. For those using dethatching rakes, they are similar to a regular rake. The tines dig into the thatch and pull it upward, which helps loosen and remove thatch. While raking, you should feel and see the thatch separating from the soil.  (If you’re planning to use a dethatcher, be sure to mark any shallow irrigation lines, sprinkler heads, or buried utility lines before starting.)
  4. When renting a dethatcher, ask the rental agency to adjust the spacing and cutting depth for your grass type before you leave. The blades should be set to cut no deeper than ½ inch into the soil. Also ask for directions on how to use the dethatcher, and follow them carefully. A dethatcher is heavy, so be sure to ask someone to help you load and unload it; you’ll need a truck to move it.
  5. After dethatching, your lawn will look ragged. This is normal.  Rake up the loosened thatch and remove it from the lawn.
  6. If bare spots were created by dethatching, use a patching product to repair them.
  7. Fertilize your lawn after dethatching to help the lawn recover. Do not fertilize before dethatching.
  8. Keep your lawn well-watered to help your grass recover.

Some homeowners like to handle dethatching their lawn on their own; however, it can be a hard and cumbersome process to embark on by yourself.  At GreenPro Outdoor Services, we specialize not only in advising our clients on the best ways to care for their own, but we actually perform these services on your behalf!  Give us a call today; our experienced team would be happy to help you dethatch your lawn and get it looking its best!

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