We only recommend dethatching lawns that suffer from an extremely thick thatch layer that is greater than three inches thick. The reason is because dethatching causes extensive damage to a lawn and is extremely labor intensive. If your thatch layer is less than three inches, then we recommend aeration in the spring and fall as the best method to reduce your thatch. Core aeration pulls plugs of soil and thatch out of the lawn and the cores of soil breakdown and populate the thatch with millions of soil microbes that help biodegrade the thatch naturally.
Power Raking is great a way to remove the dead debris and crust that builds up on a lawn over winter. It is also a gentle way to remove a small amount of thatch from the lawn without causing the significant damage that dethatching can cause.
We recommend power raking in the early spring before new growth has begun. Power raking is also a great service to combine with overseeding, as it opens the lawn surface so that new seed can get better established. Power raking is a great way to thicken up bentgrass lawns. Power raking slices the surface stolons and stimulates new growth, thickening the lawn.
Dethatching and power raking are both performed with the same machine. The difference in the two services is how deep the cutting knives are set on the dethatcher, as well as the type of cutting knives used.
Dethatching generally involves the use of flail type blades that are designed to rip out excessive thatch. The dethatching machine is set low so that the blades reach into surface of the soil. If a lawn has an excessive thatch and it is dethatched, an incredible amount of plant material will be ripped up from the lawn. Several pickup trucks of dead thatch can be created from an average sized lawn. The lawn will suffer extensive damage as well, because the knives will not only rip out the thatch, but also rip out a large percentage of the healthy grass plants. The growing points of a grass plant are at the base of the plant, and a lot of the growing points are damaged when a lawn is dethatched.
Dethatching causes a lot of damage, creating a lawn that is thin, brown and beat up. Because of this we strongly recommend that you combine a dethatching with an overseeding/slitseeding and Organics Plus Topdressing. Overseeding ensures that new grass plants will quickly fill in the damaged areas in the lawn. If overseeding is not done, weed seeds can quickly get established in the damaged areas of the lawn. Organics Plus Topdressing will help the new grass seed get quickly established and also stimulate the existing grass plants to recover from the dethatching.
Power Raking generally involves using fixed knife type blades that slice the thatch as opposed to ripping it out. The dethatching machine is set high so that the blades just skim the surface. Power raking does not cause the extensive damage that dethatching does, and so the lawn recovers rapidly and maintains its density.
When is the Best Time to Dethatch or Power Rake?
Dethatching is best done in late summer/early fall. This allows the lawn plenty of time to recover before winter, but also avoids the rigours of summer drought and heat. By waiting until late summer there will also be less competition with a variety of weeds that germinate in the spring. Dethatching can also be done in early spring, but avoid late spring because the lawn needs time to recover in order to survive the summer heat and drought.