DIY Network

De-Thatching a Lawn

This DIY Basic will provide tips on de-thatching a lawn.

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Mowing lawn

Watch an Overview Video

Gather Your Materials and Tools

Materials and Tools:

leaf rake
de-thatching rake or stiff-tined rake
Craftsman mower with de-thatching mower attachment or de-thatching machine
grass seed

Check the Lawn Thatch

When turf feels spongy and water runs off surface, it's time to check thatch.

Lawn thatch is the thick mat of clipping, cuttings, and stems that builds up between green blades and soil, blocking air, water and light. It starves grass of water and nutrients.

To measure depth of thatch, part grass with hands. When thatch builds up to at least one inch, it's time to get rid of it.

Rake the Grass

Start by forcefully raking grass with stiff-tined or de-thatching rake.

Pull out as much thatch as you can without disturbing grass roots.

Prepare to De-Thatch the Lawn

Attach de-thatching blade to mower or rent de-thatcher from garden or landscape shop. Never de-thatch when lawn is wet or in very hot weather.

Tip: Practice de-thatching at farthest point from house until you learn to control machine; blades should be low enough to cut through thatch without scraping soil.

De-Thatch and Then Rake

Run machine over each area of lawn only once.

Use leaf rake to remove piles of thatch.

Tip: Thatch can be composted.

Aerate lawn regularly and reseed to slow buildup of thatch.