If your lawn has been overtaken by thatch, it needs power raking. Not only will power raking get rid of all the dead thatch that has been building up on your grass, it will also improve its health and prevent disease. If left unchecked, thatch will suck the nutrients out of your lawn and break down the root structure of the grass. Eventually, the grass will start balding, and weeds will start growing. You should power rake your lawn once a year to maintain a healthy garden. If you’re not sure which brand to purchase though, then keep reading to find out more.
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Best Power Rakes For Lawns
Here are four of the best power rakes for your lawn, you can purchase them online or in most gardening stores:
Greenworks 10 Amp 14-inch Corded Detacher
With a robust motor, this is an ergonomic product, designed for maximal user comfort. Easy to use, adjustable device providing great control and reliable performance.
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Sun Joe Amp Electric Scarifier & Lawn
Designed for faster work, including with air boost technology and a powerful motor, this product is perfect for maximal depth control of thicker growth and healthier lawns.
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Apollo Smart Walk Behind Scarifier
Built to last long, this is an ergonomic and lightweight design, eco-friendly, electrical-powered unit, tailored with depth control and professional quality and comfort.
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Sun Joe 13 Amp Electric Scarifier Detacher
Powerful motor design, ideal for small and mid-sized lawns, capable of getting the job done faster, with air boost technology and ability to cut grass roots.
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1. Greenworks 10 Amp 14-inch Corded Detacher
This user-friendly dethatcher stays sharp for a longer, more reliable performance. It makes a limited amount of noise, and with foldable handles it’s easy to store.
Size: 10 Amp
- Light weight and user friendly, works very well for its size
- Removes thatch without tearing up existing grass
- Full power up to 150 feet
- The bag is too small
- The manufacturer is difficult to get hold of
2. Sun Joe Amp Electric Scarifier & Lawn
Get your lawn in pristine condition with this robust 12-amp dethatcher. It has a collapsible handle for easy storage, and a raking width of 12.6 inches to ensure that it does a thorough job.
Size: 12 Amp
Style: Corded electric
- 5 position depth control
- Scarifier function to trim grass roots for healthier lawns and thicker growth
- Perfect for working on smaller lawns
- Not built for heavy duty dethatching
- Not built for large gardens
3. Apollo Smart Walk Behind Scarifier
With its 2-in-1 scarifying and dethatching capabilities, this machine will have your garden looking brand new in record timing.
Size: 12 Amp
Style: Corded electric
- Lightweight but sturdy, this machine is built to last
- Accidental unplugging is prevented with a cord lock
- Eco-friendly, produces no fumes, quiet, easy disposal
- The power cord is not long enough
4. Sun Joe 13 Amp Electric Scarifier Detacher
The raking ability on this detacher is enhanced by the air boost technology. The spring steel tines remain sharp for long periods for a more reliable performance. It comes with a removable collection bag for the thatch for easy disposal.
Size: 13 Amp
Style: Corded electric
- The ability to control the raking depth
- Maintenance free machine
- Maximum thatch pick up
- The entrance of the collection bag gets clogged
What You Need to Know About Thatch
A lawn won’t survive the hot summer months if its roots are trapped in the thatch. When thatch gets thick, it attracts insects, which makes the lawn uneven and difficult to mow. When the roots are surrounded by too much humidity, they start growing fungus and attract bacterial diseases. Thatch develops in lawns that have been over fertilized, or in soil that drains poorly or that hasn’t been properly aerated. Pesticides used to chase earthworms away can also cause additional thatch build-up.
When to Power Rake: Power raking can destroy your lawn; therefore, it’s important that you don’t make a habit of power raking. If thatch grows thicker than ½ an inch, it’s time to power rake. Examining the surface of the lawn won’t tell you whether the thatch is too thick, you’ll need to cut out some plugs around 3 inches deep and look for a reddish-brown, spongy mat between the soil and the green grass. You’ll know when you’ve found the thatch because it will look like felt.
The Right Time: Not all grasses are the same, and some will require power raking at different times of the year. You can power rake the majority of grasses during the growing season, power rake cool season grasses such as ryegrass, fescue, and Kentucky bluegrass during the early fall. Power rake Bermuda grass and zoyisa grass when it’s actively growing during the early spring.
Grasses to Avoid: There are some grasses that thatch faster than others, such as smooth stalk meadow grass, and bench grass. Fescue and ryegrass don’t thatch as fast. But there are some commercially available smooth stalk varieties and bentgrasses that do thatch faster because they are made for different purposes. For example, a sports pitch needs a combination of thatch to cushion the athletes body and feet, and fast growing turf for self-healing. Lawns that are not used as much are typically made of less aggressive varieties.
Mower Clippings: There is a general consensus within gardening communities that it is unhealthy for the grass to leave clippings on the lawn, because it adds to the thatch problem. This is not the case; in fact, grass clippings decompose quickly which provides the soil with additional nutrients. However, clippings more than three inches long should be disposed of, because they can suffocate the grass.
The Difference Between Power Raking and Dethatching
These terms are often used interchangeably, but they are both two different procedures. A lot of newbie gardeners are often left confused about it, but it’s pretty simple to explain. Power raking and dethatching both remove thatch from lawns, and that is their only similarity. Unfortunately, some professional gardeners don’t know the difference, and if you call up and ask for detaching, it’s not uncommon for them to provide a power raking service instead, or vice versa.
In terms of cost, at double the price, power raking is the most expensive of the two. If you are planning on hiring a professional, ask for a price list, if they’ve got two different prices, the company offers both dethatching and power raking.
Power Raking – An Explanation
A power rake is a large machine similar in size to a lawn mower, where the blades at the bottom uproot the thatch from the lawn. A power rake can dig out two to four times more thatch than dethatching. A power rake is only used when thatching has grown out of control though. Once the thatch has been removed, the lawn is mown to pick up the thatch that has been removed. It’s a very tedious process, and you’ll need to be relatively fit to get the job done. However, due to its strenuous nature, most people hire a professional to do the job for them.
Dethaching – An Explanation
Dethatching is used when thatch has started growing and it is preventing the grass from properly absorbing fertilizer. The majority of lawns have just minor thatch, so dethatching is enough to resolve it. A dethatcher is similar to a large lawnmower with a unit attached to the front, as mentioned, it uses spring tines to dig up the thatch, but the machine collects it at the same time so there’s no need to go over the lawn again.
To Power Rake or to Dethatch? Now that you’re familiar with the difference between power raking and dethatching, you’re probably wondering which one is best for your lawn? Not to worry, keep reading to find out…
You can tell when you’ve got a thatch problem because no matter how much mulch, and fertilizer you use, your lawn will still look unhealthy. If your grass is thick, you will most definitely need to dethatch or power rake. Power raking is used to fix a thatch problem, and dethatching is used as a preventative measure. Basically, if you want to avoid a thatch problem…dethatch!
Tips to Prevent Thatch
Thatch builds up over time, and it can be prevented by taking care of your lawn. Here are a few tips to help you:
The Proper Use of Fertilizer: All grass needs fertilizer to ensure that it gets the right nutrients to grow, flourish, and remain healthy. However, it is important to apply fertilizer in the right way, or it can have the opposite effect. The most effective way to apply fertilizer is as follows:
- Use a spreader and not your hands, as it covers the lawn better and prevents burns that occur because the fertilizer is concentrated in certain areas.
- Use a rotary or a broadcast spreader instead of a drop spreader, because they don’t cause stripping.
- Water the lawn after applying the fertilizer so that the grass blades don’t burn.
- Keep pets and children off the lawn for between 24-48 hours.
Lawn Aerating: Lawn aerating is one of the most popular methods for thatch prevention. Organic matter needs decomposing, and aerating encourages the growth of microorganisms which are required for this process to occur. Core aeration or hollow tine also helps remove thatch by digging up small plugs from the lawn.
Lawn Scarifying: The main purpose of scarifying is to get rid of dead moss. But it is also useful for preventing thatch build up. Scarify during the growing season, and never during the winter, because it must be done during times when the grass will recover quickly.
Don’t Overwater: During dry weather, people are known to overwater their lawns to prevent dehydration. However, this is not necessary because lawns can survive in dry soil. Grass only needs irrigating during excessive heat, but you will need to let the soil dry out before watering it again. Saturated soil damages the microbe population because they need air to survive and reproduce.
Lawn Top Dressing: Top dressing boosts the effects of scarification and aeration. By coating the law with a material such as loam, peat, soil, or sand. Not only will top dressing make your grass look better, it will dilute the thatch and provide the root area with more air.
General Lawn Care Practices
Preventing thatching is all well and good, but your main aim should be to keep your lawn in overall good health; here are some tips to assist you:
Get Rid of Moss: Moss can cause terrible problems for your lawn; it grows quickly in excessive moisture, low grade turf, and shade. If moss is not treated, it stunts the lawn’s growth. To get rid of moss, the cause must be identified, and once established, take the necessary steps to ensure those conditions do not resurface.
Fix Drainage Problems: A poor drainage system will cause lawns to become waterlogged. The most common causes of waterlogging are landscaping and the soil’s inability to absorb water.
Over-seeding: Over-seeding revitalizes worn out and tired lawns by applying a large combination of fertilizer mixed with seed over the lawn. Over-seeding fills in thinning and damaged areas at the same time as protecting the grass against moss and weed invasions. The lawn will need to be mowed, well-watered, aerated, and scarified before applying the seeds. The lawn will need constant moisture to promote germination, and a top dressing to provide nourishment and protect the seeds. You should do this once a year to maintain the health of your lawn.
Edging and Mowing: The most effective way to mow is to remove one third of the grass’s length. How often you mow will depend on the weather conditions and the time of year. Your lawn won’t require much mowing during the winter months, but because grass grows quicker during the summer months, you will need to mow it often. Don’t mow when the soil or grass are wet, because this can damage the lawn and prevent healthy growth.
You should also avoid mowing in the same pattern or direction, because this compacts the soil which creates ruts, and leads to all types of complications with your grass. Trim the edges and borders using edging shears, or a half moon edging tool. Finally, be sure to sharpen your mower blades for a clean cut. Blunt blades create uneven edges, and rips the grass instead of cutting it.
Test the Soil: Healthy soil has a PH level of 5 to 7, making it acidic; if it’s higher than 7, it’s too alkaline. By adding sulphate, you’ll make the soil more acidic, if you need to reduce the acidity though, some lime will restore the balance. You should aim to test your soil once a year.
Rake Leaves: As leaves fall, rake them up because a build up of leaves on the lawn can prevent new growth. Additionally, raking helps remove dead grass and loosens matted grass clumps.
Fill Bare Patches: Not only do bald patches of grass look unsightly, it can spread and cause extra damage to your lawn if it’s not taken care of. To rectify this, you can either sow grass seeds into it, or create fillers out of unused turf. To do this, cut out the shape closest to the patch, in most cases, it will be a square or a rectangle. Use a hand trowel to dig up the soil the same thickness as the turf, and place it over the bald patch. Push it down to make sure there are no gaps.
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about power rakes:
Is a power rake and a dethatcher the same thing?
They are similar because they are both used to get rid of thatch in the lawn. But power rakes are more forceful because of their rotating flails. The process is made gentler with a dethatcher though, because they use spring tines.
Is power raking bad for your lawn?
Yes, power raking can be bad for your lawn. The machine doesn’t know the difference between healthy and unhealthy grass; and the speed at which it moves leads to the power raker ripping out healthy grass and too much thatch.
Is it better to power rake or aerate?
Aerating is better because it removes soil cores, which creates space for moisture and nutrients to get to the roots. Ultimately, the roots are a lot healthier because the lawn has space to breathe.
How much does a power rake cost?
The cost of a power rake will depend on the brand, but according to the Amazon website, they typically cost between $70 and $300
Should I power rake every year?
In general a healthy lawn should be power raked once a year. The best time to do so is during the spring months once any snow has melted and the lawn is dry.
How deep does a power rake go?
The maximum the blades will penetrate the soil is ½ an inch.
Additional Information About Power Rakes
Power raking is not a simple task, and there is a lot of information to take in about it. In this section, we hope to simplify it for you.
When to Use a Power Rake on Your Lawn
Thatch is a collection of dead roots, stems, and rhizomes that forms under the surface of the lawn. It can cause damage when there is too much of them by blocking water, nutrients, and air from getting to the soil. Thatch thicker than ½ an inch deep will prevent the grass roots from growing into the soil, instead, they’ll grow into the thatch.
It’s good to have a power rake in your shed, but it would be even better if you didn’t have a thatching problem in the first place. Once you’ve thatched your lawn, follow the instructions above consistently to keep your grass in tip-top condition all year round.