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My lawn is full of so much thatch that I can bend down and pull up handfuls. I used a steel rake to pull up some today but it is still full of thatch. I feel like I could continue raking for days and never get it all. Will a rake meant specifically for dethatching be any easier to use, and more importantly will it pull up more thatch than a standard steel rake?

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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Where in California (according to your SE profile) are you?

Am asking, as from my limited research (knowledge) on grass types used in California, I discovered:

  • Northern California tends to favour cool season lawns.
  • Southern California tends to favour warm season lawns.

If you do have a warm season lawn (grass type), for the overall health of your lawn you should only dethatch in Spring, once the grass has woken from dormancy & is actively growing.

Dethatching at any other time of year greatly increases the chance of causing real damage to a warm season lawn.

On the other hand, if you have a cool season lawn (grass type), without a shadow of a doubt the best time of year to treat, perform maintenance, on your lawn is late Summer, early Autumn (Fall). Around "Labor Day" in the USA is generally considered about ideal.

Now adding onto "Mancuniensis" answer, I recommend paying a visit to your local tool hire shop (store) and rent yourself a mechanically powered Dethatcher (a machine you walk behind, just like a lawnmower) for a ½ or full day.

Additionally, as you paint a picture of a bad thatch problem, I would also be very tempted to get hold of a mechanically powered Aerator and aerate your lawn after dethatching. Doing so will open up the soil, get some much needed air in there.

Then after doing that, I would give your lawn a "natural" feed with a allover covering of ½ to 1inch (12.5 to 25mm) thick layer of screened compost (preferably STA-certified or similar).

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Thanks Mike. I'm in Southern California. I believe you're correct regarding the time of year to thatch but I was living on the wild side so I went ahead and rented an aerator and the thatch was so bad that I was able to use a normal steel garden rake to remove an entire garbage can full of thatch on my 1200 square foot front lawn. I covered with about a half inch of compost and the lawn is looking better already (of course we've also been pouring water on it). –  Paul Jul 20 '11 at 22:57
    
@Paul, no worries. That's a fair amount of thatch from a lawn that size. "the lawn is looking better already", that's good to hear, give it another 3 or 4 weeks and it should be looking fantastic. You might also be interested in this answer I posted today on SE. Good luck :) –  Mike Perry Jul 21 '11 at 1:24
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A standard garden rake doesn't remove thatch well at all. Either of the following tools would do the job much better:

  • A hand lawn rake/scarifier

  • An electric lawn rake/scarifier (Very effective - I use one myself)

You can see them here and here.

    -
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I use this thatching blade attached to my push-mower once every year.

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are you seeing good results? I'm generally interested, as I have been told by numerous people that (generally speaking) dethatching & aeration of a lawn is something that should be done once every 3 or 4 years for the general overall health of a lawn. –  Mike Perry Jul 19 '11 at 3:38
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I am seeing good results. My lawn started as sod a few years back and is rather thick! I am certain that the blade I use picks up much more than I could get with a rake. –  JoeHobbit Jul 19 '11 at 13:48
    
That's good to hear. "I am certain that the blade I use picks up much more than I could get with a rake" - I would totally agree with that. –  Mike Perry Jul 19 '11 at 15:27
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