Using A Lawn Dethatcher For Healthy Grass

A lawn requires maintenance to keep it looking lush and green. Thus, some basic measures enable it to stay healthy enough to remain that way. Since it is not uncommon for a layer of debris, or thatch, to accumulate between the soil and grass blades, eliminating thatch, or dethatching, is a basic process when too much thatch threatens lawn health. Of course a healthy lawn has thatch too, but it is usually not more than 1/2″ thick. Kept at this level, it is actually advantageous. A healthy thatch height is maintained naturally by bacteria continually breaking it down; this allows a maintenance density consistent with promoting lawn health by preventing grass roots from being burnt and facilitating advantageous water retention.

When thatch surpasses a healthy thickness, often making a lawn look brown and unattractive, it should be dealt with according to geographic region and climate. Primarily composed of grass clippings and other natural materials such as roots and leaves, and often the result of over-fertilization or compacted soil disabling bacteria from reaching the surface to aid in its decomposition, the only time thatch must not be removed is between lawn dormancy and active growth, when low energy stores exist in grass roots. Thus, thatch removal in summer, fall, even during winter dormancy is all right. Consequently, that means early fall or early spring is ideal for lawns most active in cool seasons, while a lawn at its prime in warm weather is best dethatched in early summer.

While aeration, accomplished by poking holes in the soil, helps draw bacteria up to facilitate thatch decomposition, it is not enough when lawn health is duly threatened. Therefore, dethatching is called for, and using a device like a mechanical lawn dethatcher or simply a lawn dethatcher rake becomes necessary to effectively pull up excessive thatch and allow the lawn to breathe anew. While dethatching will obviously help eradicate thatch, there are some worthwhile factors when considering current available devices.

First, while both a mechanical lawn dethatcher and a simpler dethatcher rake will accomplish the task, there is a difference in efficiency and speed. Using a mechanical dethatcher not only proves to be faster but also delivers a more effective outcome. Moreover, a mechanical lawn dethatcher, though more expensive than a simpler lawn dethatcher rake, is usually available for rent by garden suppliers though just as readily purchased as a specialty rake.

When deciding to rent or purchase a mechanical lawn dethatcher, some guidelines exist, not the least of which is lawn size. Although a dethatcher or power rakes might be adequate for small grassy areas, there is no doubt that the mechanical version will greatly enhance dethatching for lawns that are more expansive. That is because a wheeled mechanical lawn dethatcher works by being slowly, steadily run across the lawn, while its blades rotate and penetrate the grass to pull up thatch. The fact that the blade height can be adjusted is a plus, as it enables the tool to penetrate various depths. Further, the space between the blades can be adjusted so that, in a sense, the device can be tailored to the job. Anywhere from one to five passes with a dethatching machine should be adequate to remove most of the thatch

Conversely, for small grassy areas, a handled lawn dethatching rake, similar to a regular rake, might suffice. Manually moved across the lawn in one direction to prevent grass root damage, it resembles a sharp two-sided rake, with wide sharp blades instead of the usual tines. Though less expensive than a mechanical lawn dethatcher, a lawn dethatching rake is, nonetheless, an affordable option even though not recommended for large lawns.

Especially helpful for larger lawns, many mechanical lawn dethatchers are made to be hitched and towed by a tractor, while hand pushed varieties are either motorized or dependent on someone moving them forward. While hand-pushed devices can be effective at separating thatch from grass, the motorized models provide easier use if lawns have a gradual incline. For steeper inclines, a more powerful dethatcher is best, and those that can also be towed provide suitable solutions for greater inclines and larger lawns. All dethatchers, whether hand-pushed or tow-behind, motorized or not, require regular blade maintenance, while oil changes on motorized models ensure continued good performance.

Though a standard lawn dethatcher rake, only somewhat more complexly designed than a regular leaf or garden rake will suffice in some situations, there is no doubt that for thatch that has gotten out of control enough to threaten a lawn’s health, using a mechanical lawn dethatcher is advisable. As the process of dethatching also promotes growth of healthy, new grass in mature lawns by allowing oxygen, nutrients, and water to reach deep into living grass roots, there is a dual outcome. Eradicating excessive thatch accumulation and stimulating new grass growth are clearly desirable results. Choosing a device to make the job most effective and time-efficient is a large factor in achieving them.

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