The Q&A Archives: Dethatching Lawns

Question: I recently discovered my lawn has thatch. What is the recommended method of dethatching a lawn? Do I do it by hand, or is there some sort of mechanical dethatching tool I can use? Should I aerate before or after I dethatch (or at all)?

Answer: Dethatching is a practice used on mostly warm-season lawns that produce heavy woven mats of stolons or runners. It's done in spring before the lawn gets off to a new start. The steps, in order, are: 1) scalping -- setting the mower as low as it will go and taking the grass to within 1/2 inch of the ground; 2) dethatching -- using a rented machine that rakes the mat of runners right out (hand dethatchers are available but they are not efficient and can wear out the best of us if the lawn is large); 3) aerating -- using a rented piece of equipment that removes small plugs of soil which you then fill in by raking compost across the lawn.

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