Saturday, May 18, 2013


This spring we decided to dethatch the lawn.  Thatch is the build-up of dead grass within the lawn.  It doesn’t allow air and water to get to the roots and just makes the lawn look ugly. 

We’ve lived in the house 9 years and have never dethatched before. Our first year, the lawn was in pretty bad shape. We did our best on our own, but then had to get a lawn service to really get it back in shape. Over the years I’ve had plenty of neighbors stop by and say how nice our lawn is. But this past winter was particularly hard on our lawn and we had a lot of thatch and patches of dead grass all over.

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We rented a Power Rake from our local rental store and with a $5 coupon we got it for $27 (tax included) for 2 hours.  It takes just a little longer than mowing your grass, so 2 hours was plenty of time for us. 

The first thing you have to do is cut the grass at least once.  Raise the tines of the Power Rake all the way up, then try it out and drop it down as needed so it is only raking up the thatch, and not all the grass and dirt too.

We had ours almost all the way up and it was perfect for our lawn. This thing isn’t self-propelled like the lawn mower, so Jamie did the dethatching. The first pass was amazing and almost embarrassing!  Look at all that thatch!

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Next up is getting rid of all the thatch.  You could rake it all up, but talk about getting a blister!  So I attached the collector bag to our lawn mower, set it up all the way and used the mower like a vacuum.  It worked great, but I could only do one pass before the bag was full and I had to dump it out.

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Like my use of safety glasses?!? It was windy and thatch in my eyes was not pleasant.  After all the thatch was removed the grass looked a bit dull and there were some really bad patches where we had to re-seed the lawn.  I re-seeded a few years ago with some good results so I used the same formula this time. 

You’ll need topsoil (cheap stuff is fine, I picked mine up for $1/bag), MiracleGro garden soil, peat moss, and grass seed (7lb bag was just enough to patch our lawn). 

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I mixed one bag of topsoil, 1/4 of the MircleGro soil, 1/8 of the peat moss and 1/4 of the seed in a wheelbarrow.  I had to repeat this 3 times to cover all the patches in our lawn.

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First break up the soil a bit where you want to re-seed (I used a small hand rake) and then put down the soil/seed mix.  After you have all your areas filled in cover them with a thin layer of peat moss.  This will help keep the area moist and keep birds from eating the seed.  Gently water the areas and keep watering every day until grass is starting to establish. 

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It’s been three weeks and our lawn is looking better than ever.  We do still use a lawn service and I made sure to let them know we were dethatching before they treated for the first time.  The areas we patched are filling in nicely, although not entirely yet. 

Dethatch time lapse

If you are wondering what we did with all our bags of thatch, I have a co-worker that has a lot of land and she took it home for her compost.  I highly recommend finding someone to take it for compost, because it won’t ever decompose in a landfill.