In this blog post we will discuss the purposes and importance of the spring cleanup option of power raking and dethatching. We will also explain the differences.
The picture on the right is a yard that was power raked and had heavy thatch.
I’m glad you asked, let me give you some insight! First off I will tell you what thatch is. It is generally a combination grass clippings, leaves and other organic material. Even if you bag your grass every time you mow, you will still have thatch build up, but way more so if you mulch your lawn.
Are there benefits to having thatch in your lawn? Yes, definitely! As the thatch breaks down and decays it releases nitrogen into your soil which is essentially fertilizer. It can also help protect the lawn from extreme temperature fluctuations, and some foot traffic.
However, if you have more then a 1/2 inch (1.25cms) of thatch buildup, that is when it becomes an issue.
To much thatch in your lawn will cause the grass roots to not receive enough moisture, air and nutrients, and essentially suffocate. It can also becoma a breeding ground for pests and harmful fungi.
The main reason you should dethatch your lawn is to maintain a healthy and lush lawn
Type of grass, climate, and growing season all play a part in determining the right time. But here in Manitoba, Canada, where we have a roughly 5 month growing season, the best time is early spring.
You should do it when the ground is dry enough, but before the grass starts actively growing. There is generally about a 2 week window to do this.
We have experienced many different start times in our 9 years of doing spring cleanups anywhere from the beginning of April to mid May. We have also started our route, and then had snow shut us down for up to a week.
You will want to do your dethatching early enough that the lawn has a lot of growing season ahead of it to recover. Manitoba generally has a wet spring which is another reason to have your lawn dethatched early, especially if you overseed it afterward.
A dethatcher in the lawn maintenance world is generally a front mount, tine type of attachment for your mower. These work especially well if placed on a mower with a bagging system. Be sure that you have a commercial type set up for your bagger as this will suck up a lot of heavy material and can tend to plug quite easily. There are also hand held dethatching rakes, pull behind, and other options.
Dethatching is less invasive then power raking as the tines of the dethatcher do not pull up near as much thatch. A dethatcher is great for large areas, and where the thatch is not built up very thick.
Power raking does a much deeper removal of thatch then it’s counterpart the dethatcher. These are generally much smaller units, about the size of a push mower. Power raking takes much longer then dethatching, and generally costs more for that reason.
Most rental stores have power rakes available, but be sure to book it early as it is a high demand item with a very short window.
Power raking has blade like pieces of metal that spin leaving grooves on your soil and pulling up most of the existing thatch. The depth that the blades penetrate is adjustable. The lower you set them, the deeper they go, but that is generally not a good thing. You can almost till up your soil if you go to deep. If you do not go deep enough, you will not pull up much thatch. If your yard is uneven, set your tines a bit higher so you do not create bare spots on the humps.
Leaving little grooves in your soil can actually be beneficial if you plan on overseeding and fertilizing. The grooves are bare soil where the seed can plant it’s roots easier then through the existing lawn.
You can choose which better suits your lawns needs by taking a measuring tape and checking the depth of your thatch. If over half an inch, I would choose the power rake, and if under, then the dethatcher will suffice.
A better bet is to contact your local lawn care professional, and ask their opinion. Be sure to ask your contractor of choice if they know the difference between the two options. Unfortunately many do not, so keep this in mind when seeking professional advice. A lawn care professional should know the differences, the benefits, and also have other knowledge and advice on how to improve your lawn.
There are a number of benefits to having a lawn care professional maintain your lawn. They will have the knowledge and expertise to help you make the right services and products regarding the health of you lawn.