What is Lawn Dethatching and Why Do I Need To Do It?

We bet that you didn’t know about all the work required to upkeep a beautiful lawn until you had your own lawn to take care of. We understand that not everyone is an expert on grass and turf. If you’ve never heard of the term dethatching before, or you’ve heard of it but have no idea what that means, read on to find out if lawn dethatching is in your future lawn-care plans.

So What Is Lawn Dethatching?

In order to answer this question, we first need to explain what thatch is. You may think of thatch as that quaint material that old English cottage roofs are made of.

Cottages with thatched roofs after lawn dethatching.
Thatched cottages at Cadgwith Cove, Cornwall, England

However, you don’t have to live in the English countryside to have thatch. Thatch can be found in anyone’s lawn anywhere in the world. Over time, tiny bits of grass die and accumulate on the soil. This forms the basis of thatch. It is a layer of living and dead stems, roots, and crowns right above the soil surface. If you take a look at your lawn, thatch will look like browned grass stems matted together.

In moderation, thatch is actually beneficial for your lawn. As reported by the Penn State Department of Plant Science, less than ½ inch of thatch helps to insulate your lawn from extreme weather, protect weed seeds from reaching the soil and taking root, and help the soil retain moisture.

However, any thicker and thatch will act as a foe against the health of your lawn. Excessive thatch increases the risk for pests and diseases to thrive. Not only does it reduce the ability of fungicides and insecticides to penetrate the soil, but it also reduces the amount of moisture and oxygen that can reach roots.

How Can I Tell If I Need Dethatching?

There are multiple ways to tell if thatch has built up on your lawn. First, upon walking on your lawn, you will notice that it is spongy. When you try to stick your fingers (or a screwdriver) into the soil, you will find it difficult to do so. Lastly, you will see that water will run off the grass rather than penetrate it.

If you’ve noticed any of these signs, or a combination of multiple, your property is in need of lawn dethatching.

How Do I Dethatch My Lawn?

Generally, there are two ways to dethatch lawns. The first is to use a dethatching rake, which will rip the layer right out of your lawn. By hand, you must dig deep into your lawn and pull upwards to loosen the thatch apart. When doing this, the thatch should be visible. Your lawn will look visibly ragged after this and will need to be cleaned up.

If you have a large lawn, you can consider the second method, which uses a power dethatcher. You can rent this tool from a rental agency, which should supply you with instructions. Dethatchers are heavy, and you may need not only a truck but also (at least) one spare pair of hands for loading and unloading. When using the dethatcher, you must also be careful to use it in a pattern that covers the grass only once.

Given that the process of lawn dethatching is time-consuming, technical, and physically taxing, it’s no wonder that thousands of homeowners choose to hire a professional agency to take care of the job. If you choose to opt for this alternative, make sure you choose a reputable landscaping company, like Giovine Landscaping Inc., to help you achieve a healthy, flourishing lawn. Don’t let thatch get in your way.