Power Rake vs Dethatcher: What Are The Differences?
April 26, 2022
Thatch comes up a lot when you talk about growing a healthy, lush lawn. While some thatch, or organic decomposing matter, can be beneficial to your soil and lawn, if it starts to accumulate this can be problematic and stunt grass growth.
When should you dethatch your lawn? If you can see that the green blades of grass in your lawn are struggling to show, you could have too much decomposing matter getting in its way.
If your lawn thatch is thicker than half an inch, it’s time to remove it so that your grass can thrive. To do this, you need the right tool – is a power rake or dethatcher better? Here’s what you need to know about these tools and how they work.
What Is A Power Rake?
A power rake is a machine that looks a bit like a lawnmower. It contains blades that spin to remove thatch from the lawn.
It works well because you can remove thatch at the soil level without removing too much of the healthy grass, but you just have to ensure that you use the correct height to achieve this.
A power rake lifts and removes dead grass.
By removing thatch that’s thicker than half an inch, it allows sunlight and water to reach the grassroots.
It works in a similar way to a lawnmower.
A power rake is a more heavy-duty tool than a dethatcher, as it has a powerful motor and a series of rotating flails that lift and eliminate debris.
It removes up to four times more thatch than a dethatcher.
If used incorrectly, it can pull up healthy grass and damage your lawn.
You have to pick up the removed thatch afterward with a garden rake or lawnmower.
What Is A Dethatcher?
A dethatcher is a machine that looks like a power rake as well as a lawnmower. It has blades that remove thatch, but during use it’s usually set to a low setting.
There are different types of dethatchers:
Manual dethatchers. These are similar in appearance to rakes. They have thick metal tines that are perpendicular to their handle. They sometimes come with wheels to make it easier to move them around your lawn.
Tow-behind dethatchers. These are similar to manual dethatchers but they are clipped onto the back of mowers, so they’re much more user-friendly.
Powered dethatchers. These use a motor that makes the tines move. You only have to push it around your lawn to make it work, so it works in the same way as a lawnmower.
Since the average residential lawn only requires dethatching once a year, using a dethatcher is sufficient.
A dethatcher is beginner-friendly.
It’s less risky to use than a power rake that can be damaging to your lawn.
It can’t be used on thicker thatch as it’s mainly ideal for thinner layers of thatch you want to remove.
Power Rake vs Dethatcher: Which One Should You Use?
When deciding if you should use a power rake or dethatcher, you should consider various factors. Let’s break them down.
You should consider the size of your lawn when you want to dethatch your lawn correctly. Generally, it’s a good idea to choose a power rake for a larger lawn because it’s designed to have more power so it can remove thicker thatch.
That said, you can also use a dethatcher on a large lawn even though it’s smaller in size. Some dethatchers can be attached to your garden tractor or mower, which makes them a versatile tool to help you remove thatch from your lawn.
More important than the size of your lawn is the amount of thatch that you have to remove. A power rake is more aggressive than a dethatcher so it’s ideal for removing major patches of thatch in your lawn. By comparison, you should use a dethatcher when you don’t have a serious thatch problem.
A dethatcher contains spring tines that dislodge thatch, whereas a power rake has blades with rotating flails that pull up thicker thatch in a more aggressive way.
Is Dethatching Safe For Beginners To Do?
If you’ve never removed thatch from your lawn, you might wonder if you need to contact the pros or you can do it yourself.
Using a power rake requires a bit of skill and practice, so you should learn about this machine before you use it. A power rake is usually heavy-duty, so if you’ve never used it before you should call the pros.
By comparison, a dethatcher is smaller and easier to operate. This is more beginner-friendly, but it’s not worth using it if you need to remove thick thatch or high quantities of it in your lawn.
When should you dethatch your lawn?
You should dethatch your lawn when the grass is in its peak growth time. This will ensure it can heal faster after it’s been dethatched.
You should dethatch cool-season grass during early spring or early fall, whereas warm-season grass should be dethatched during late spring through to early summer.
What causes thatch to get out of control in your lawn?
Various factors can contribute to thatch getting too thick for your lawn, such as if you’re watering your lawn incorrectly, your soil doesn’t have proper drainage or aeration, and you’ve overused chemicals on your lawn.
Removing thatch from your lawn doesn’t always have to be something you leave to the gardening pros. You can do it yourself by choosing the right tool, such as a power rake or dethatching.
Rebecca Vargas is an experienced gardener and landscaper and has been rendering professional services for many years. Her services cover both private homes and commercial properties. Leveraging that rich experience, Rebecca Vargas now dedicates a chunk of time to show just about anyone how to maintain their garden and yard, whether at home or workplace. GreenIQ is his way of reaching and teaching millions of homeowners across the globe about proper gardening and lawn care practices.