How To Dethatch Your Lawn

How To Dethatch Your Lawn

So your lawn is looking a little weak and I’m guessing you are starting to see those light brown spots. Those light brown spots are patches of dead grass and chances are it’s because your lawn needs to be dethatched.

What is Thatch and how do you dethatch your lawn? To start off with thatch is basically a cluster of dead grass and roots between the surface and the grass. This cluster of dead grass and roots prevents much needed water, air, and nutrients from getting to the grass roots.

Even if your grass is green you can still check the level of thatch in your lawn by pulling up a small clump of grass. If you notice an inch or more of discolored grass near the roots you may want to consider dethatching.

The image below gives you a visual idea of how a healthy vs unhealthy piece of lawn should look. Anything around an inch or more should be dethatched before the grass starts to turn.

Left un-thatched your lawn ends up killing itself causing those light brown spots of dead grass. Because of this its best to dethatch your lawn once or twice a year.

Be sure to check out our Top Rated Weed Eaters Guide!

What Causes Thatch

What causes thatch? Well there are a number of things that cause thatch but the main reasons would be over watering. Grass needs around an inch to and inch and a half of water per week year round. More than that can cause thatch to spread.

We recommend that you water deeply about three times a week vs daily.
Watering daily instead of deeply can cause a shallow root system. A shallow root system is weaker and drys much faster. By watering more a few times a week vs less daily will allow the grass roots to grow deeper making them stronger and more drought resistant.

Water your grass early in the morning if possible to give enough time for the deep soil to dry before nightfall. This prevents fungus growth among other disease problems.

When To Dethatch Your Lawn

how to dethatch your lawn

Having a little thatch is actually healthy for your lawn as it provides insulation during extreme temperature fluctuations. It also helps protect roots from over moister during torrential downpours. On average about a half an inch of thatch is considered healthy.

That leads us to the question of “When to dethatch your lawn?“. The best time to dethatch your lawn is when the thatch reaches around an inch or more in thickness. It’s also a good habit to try and dethatch your lawn at lease once or twice a year.

How To Dethatch Your Lawn

Yards and lawns come in all shapes and sizes and to dethatch your lawn there are a few options as well. For example there is a walk behind dethatcher designed for smaller lawns that works sort of like a push mower. As for mid sized to larger lawns you can use a pull/tow behind dethatcher designed for riding mowers and tractors.

These dethatchers are rakes with sharp tines that are used to rip thatch out of the lawn. Depending on the weight of the rake you’ll most likely want to go over the lawn in a pattern that’ll cover the entire lawn only once. Going over the same area more than once may pull to much and end up killing those areas.

After dethatching your lawn it will look pretty messed up and ruined but that’s okay because it’s suppose to look that way. Simply rake up the loose debris with a leaf rake and water your lawn.

Aerating after you dethatch is another good idea and allows more water and room for the roots to thrive. This is also a good time to overseed and fertilize. Give your lawn about three to four weeks to recover and you should start to see signs of new growth.

2019 Best Rated Lawn Dethatchers

Below is a list of our top picks for both walk behind and pull behind dethatchers. We’ve also included a buyers guide to help you find one that is suited for your lawn dethatching needs.

At A Glance: Our Top Picks For Lawn Dethatchers

Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon.

Lawn Dethatcher Buyers Guide

Hopefully now you know a thing or two about lawn thatch and lawn dethatching. Figured nows a good as time as any to learn about some of the equipment with our Lawn Dethatcher Buyers Guide.

One of the biggest things to consider first is the size of your lawn as it’ll help you determine how big of a dethather you’ll need. The larger the yard the bigger or wider dethatcher you’ll want to consider. Another way to look at it is do use a push mower or a riding mower.

If you use a push mower than a walk behind dethatcher will more than likely work for you. Although it would be pretty funny to see a pull behind dethatcher attached to a push mower. =)

Chances are if you use a riding mower to mow your lawn the pull behind dethatcher might be a better option for you.

Durability & Ease of Use

Durability & Ease of use are important factors to consider as you want to make sure you get the most for your money and get as many uses as you can out of the dethatcher. We look for products with sturdy frames and a decent warranty.

Ease of use consists of things such as hooking up to a tractor, or push button starts on a walk behind. How easy is it to chance height positions and how comfortable are the handle bars.

Maintenance & Efficiency

Maintenance is something a lot over look but shouldn’t. With proper maintenance you’ll end up getting more use out of your dethatcher. Maintenance can include anything from storage to cleaning and replacing parts.

As for efficiency with a walk behind, power consumption and the amount of time it takes you to finish dethatching is worth looking at. A collection bag can save you time as well as a wider dethatching path. Small things that add up in the long run.


Cost is always a factor in basically everything we buy and why not. Nobody likes to waste money. With that in mind below you’ll find our top choices for walk behind dethatchers and our top choices in pull behind dethatchers.

Our Top Choices in Walk Behind Dethatchers

Greenworks 14 Inch 10 Amp Corded Dethatcher

Greenworks 14 Inch 10 Amp Corded Dethatcher

The Greenworks 14 Inch 10 Amp Corded Dethatcher 27022 is our top pick for walk behind dethatchers. It’s the perfect dethatcher for small lawns in-part because of its works exactly as intended.

Runs off a robust 10 amp electric motor that does require to you use at least a 14 wire gauge 50 foot or less extension cord. Using a lesser gauge wire can cause the Greenworks Dethatcher to over heat and burn out. For a few extra bucks getting the right extension cords can save you in the long run.

With a dethatching path of 14 inches the Greenworks dethatcher becomes very efficient saving you valuable time and energy. Knowing all lawns are different the Greenworks dethatcher is designed with 3 position tine depth adjustment. This gives you more options to find the right setting for your yard.

Features Include:

  • 10 Amp Motor
  • Ergonomic & Padded Grip with Adjustable Handle
  • 14 Inch Dethatching Path
  • 3 Position Tine Depth Adjustment
  • Stainless Steel Tines (Included full set of replacement tines)
  • Item Weight: 25 Pounds

If you are putting hundreds of dollars into your yard and not dethatching properly than it’s like wasting money. Why not do yourself a favor and try the Greenworks 14 Inch 10 Amp Corded Dethatcher 27022. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Don’t just take our word for it. There are thousands of positive reviews of customers who absolutly love the Greenworks dethatcher. Claiming how easy it is to use and how well it works.

What We Liked

Greenworks not only made a great product with their dethatcher, but it’s set at a really great price. The 14 inch dethatching path is anther thing we really like about this dethatcher. A full set of replacement tines included is another bonus.

What We Don’t Like

Only small complaint we noticed the instructions can be a bit confusing to understand. The best way we can describe it is to use a little common sense and you shouldn’t have many issues when assembling.


As with all electricial equipment please be sure to use the correct wire gauged extension cords. The smaller gauge cords will put more strain and wear on the motor and you’ll end up burning it up.

Over all the Greenworks 14 Inch 10 Amp Corded Dethatcher 27022 is a great product. If you are in the market for a dethatcher and have a small lawn this should be on your list of considerations. It’s our top choice for walk behind dethaters.

Sun Joe AJ801E 12.6 Inch Lawn Dethatcher

Sun Joe AJ801E 12 Inch Lawn Dethatcher

Coming in at a very close second choice would be the Sun Joe AJ801E 12.6″ Lawn Dethatcher. It’s actually a lawn dethatcher and a scarifier combo. As the dethatcher and scarifier units can be swapped out with each other adding to the versatility of this awesome device.

The scarifier feature on this dethatcher adds a nice touch. It can be used to help cut up the thatch making it easier for the dethatcher to do it’s job. While that means you’ll end up having to make two passes over your lawn it can be worth it if your lawn has some thick thatch.

Another nice feature that’s simple yet very handy is the 8 gallon rear collection bag. This can save you some clean up time from having to pick up the debris that the dethatcher digs up.

Features Include:

  • 12 Amp Motor
  • 12.6 Inch Dethatching Width
  • 5 Position Depth Control
  • Item Weight: 23 Pounds
  • Scarifier Function
  • 8 Gallon Rear Collection Bag
  • Airboost Technology
  • ETL Approved & 2 Year Warranty

Got to admit the Sun Joe AJ801E 12.6″ Lawn Dethatcher does look cheap but looks can be deceiving as is the case here. Customers mention that it’s an awesome product, works great and has excellent customer support from Sun Joe.

What We Liked

Having the Scarifier function is a very nice touch and can really help out in the areas that are dry and hard. Having a 2 year warranty can make it easier on the wallet or at least feel a little more at ease.

What We Don’t Like

While the 8 gallon rear collection bag is a nice feature it does seem a bit small and fills up fairly fast requiring you to have to stop and empty it often. If it’s your first time dethatching in a while it might be faster to go without the bag and rake the mess up afterwards.


The Sun Joe AJ801E 12.6″ Lawn Dethatcher is a little more expensive but you are getting a more versatile machine with the added scarifier. That’s well worth the extra cost. This dethatcher is well worth considering if you have a small to mid side yard and want a nice looking lawn.

VonHaus Corded 15 Inch Electric 2 in 1 Lawn Dethatcher and Aerator

VonHaus Corded 15 Inch Electric 2 in 1 Lawn Dethatcher and Aerator

The VonHaus Corded 15″ Electric 2 in 1 Lawn Dethatcher and Aerator is another great choice worth looking at. A few things set this dethatcher apart from the others such as a wider dethatching path.

A wider dethatching path saves you time if you have more area to dethatch. That also makes the VonHaus dethatcher more efficient allowing you to dethatch a larger area in a shorter amount of time.

Efficient is what this dethatcher is all about with an aerator attachment that you can swap out with the dethatcher. To be honest its more of a scarifier than an aerator. An aerator is designed to create air pockets for vegation to get more air and water. On the other hand a scarifier is designed to break up matted vegetation or in this case thatch.

Features Include:

  • 12.5 Amp Motor
  • 15 Inch Dethatching Path
  • 5 Adjustable Height Depths
  • Aerator / Scarifier Functionality
  • 45L Capacity Collection Bag
  • Item Weight: 31 Pounds
  • Compacts For Easy Storage

Like the Sun Joe dethatcher the VonHaus dethatcher has a collection bag only its a good bit larger. Holding up to 45 liters or a little more than 11 gallons makes it a lot more useful and not filling up as fast. Just another method of being efficient.

We didn’t find many customer reviews on the VonHaus dethatcher but the ones we did find where extremely satisfied. Of course it’s a newly listed item and finding any reviews at all is helpful.

What We Liked

Having dual functionallity is awesome but the 15 inch dethatching width and a 45 liter collection bag is our favorite features on the VonHaus Corded 15″ Electric 2 in 1 Lawn Dethatcher.

What We Don’t Like

Considering it’s almost twice the price as our top choice it’s obvious we don’t like the price. Is it worth the money? Well that’s really up to the person who buys it but in our opinion it’s a bit much.


If you don’t mind paying the higher price it’s a great dethatcher with a lot of great features. The question is, are those features worth the cost to you?

Homelite 14 Inch Electric Power Dethatcher

Homelite 14 Inch  Electric Power Dethatcher

The Homelite 14 Inch Electric Power Dethatcher is another decent dethatcher. Sporting a powerful 10 amp motor and a 3 position depth adjustment. Along with a 14 inch dethatching path makes this a note worthy contender.

Unfortunitly it doesn’t have some of the features as some of the other dethatchers. However it works a lot like our top choice being the Greenworks 14 Inch 10 Amp Corded Dethatcher 27022.

Features Include:

  • Powerful 10 Amp Motor
  • 3 Position Depth Adjustment
  • 14 Inch Dethatching Path
  • Stainless Steel Tines
  • Item Weight: 30.8 Pounds

Don’t let the reviews fool you because at the time of this article there were none for the Homelite Electirc Power Dethatcher. However we found a good many positive reviews by doing our homework (Google Search) =)

Customers were very pleased claiming how the Homelite dethatcher works effortlessly and does the job it’s suppose to do well. Far exceeded expectations, Outstanding job of dethatching to list a few of the remarks.

What We Liked

Anytime you are buying something that works as it’s suppose to, you feel like you got your money worth. Same could go for the Homelite dethatcher, it works as indented.

What We Don’t Like

Again the price seems a bit much compared to some of our other choices especially when you compare features.


It’s not our top choice and is a bit on the pricey side but it’s always nice to have options and that’s what this is another option.

Our Top Choices for Pull Behind Dethatchers

Brinly DT-40BH Tow Behind 40 Inch Dethatcher

Brinly DT-40BH Tow Behind 40 Inch Dethatcher

The Brinly DT-40BH Tow Behind Dethatcher is our top choice for pull behind dethatchers and is designed for mid sized to large yards. While it’s made to dethatch it can also be used as a scarifier.

Using a 40 inch dethatching path you’ll have your yard dethatched in no time. However Brinly also makes a nice 48 Inch tow behind dethatcher if bigger is better for you. Adding a little extra weight (up to 70 lbs) is as simple as loading a few blocks on top and strapping them in.

When transporting across the driveway or walkways the Brinly DT-40BH Tow Behind Dethatcher has easy-to-engage-transport wheels. By using an engagement level conveniently placed so you can reach it from the drivers seat.

Quickly attach the Brinly DT-40BH Tow Behind Dethatcher with a Universal hook-up to any tractor or riding mower. Also hooks up to most Zero Turn Mowers and ATVs and includes a heavy duty universal hitch pin.

Features Include:

  • 40 Inch Dethatching Path
  • Additional Weight Tray
  • Universal Hook Up
  • Easy To Engage Transport Wheels
  • Simple Assembly
  • Full 2 Year Warranty

One thing is for sure Brinly tries to make the assembly as simple as possible. Offering an excellent instructional video showing you step by step how to assemble the dethatcher. They also provide easy to follow assembly instructions.

Why pay someone thousands of dollars when you do it yourself. Reading over some of the positive reviews customers comment on how it’s an Excellent piece of equipment, Works Great, Well worth the money, and Easy to use. This really sets the tone for a well made product.

What We Liked

The easy to engage wheels are a nice touch as most people who would use this dethatcher would be having to cross over a drive or walk way at some point. Can’t complain about the price either at it’s a solid deal.

What We Don’t Like

Our only complaint is that the wheels are a tad on the small side. They work great on flat surface but for a more un-level surface we could see how it might bottom out.


This is the perfect dethatcher for those with a small tractor or riding mower with a good sized yard that needs dethatching. The Brinly DT-40BH Tow Behind Dethatcher works exactly as expected. What else can you ask for.

Agri-Fab 45-0295 48 Inch Tine Tow Dethatcher

Agri-Fab 45-0295 48 Inch Tine Tow Dethatcher

Another awesome choice for pull behind dethatchers is the Agri-Fab 45-0295 48-Inch Tine Tow Dethatcher. Very similar to Brinly’s Tow Behind Dethatcher and one of Amazon’s best sellers.

While the 48″ Agri-Fab dethatcher covers more area in a smaller amount of time the problem is it with added weight it tends to wooble more causing uneven dethatching. For that reason the Brinly’s dethatcher is our top choice.

On the other hand we believe it has a better design than Brinly’s 48″ dethatcher and supports the added weight better. Hence why it’s our second top choice. Don’t get me wrong as I’m sure they all will do what they were intended to which is dethatch.

Features Include:

  • 24 Rust Proof Heat Treated Spring Tines
  • 48 Inch Dethatching Path
  • 48 Inch Weight Tray
  • 7″ x 1.5″ Semi-Pneumatic Tires
  • Universal Hitch
  • Cantilever Transport Handle
  • Item Weight: 33.5 Pounds
  • 3 Year Limited Consumer Warranty

Customers who previously purchased the Agri-Fab 45-0295 48-Inch Tine Tow Dethatcher highly recommend it. Even those with less than 5 stars recommend it. Of course it’s got flaws but what doesn’t.

What We Liked

If you are really looking to save time and want a 48″ model dethatcher than this would be the one we recommend. The design to hold the weights is better than other models we looked at.

What We Don’t Like

Because of the wheel base being a little on the narrow side you’ll have to watch your speed or the dethatcher will bounce a lot. With extra weight it’ll wobble more than we like.


The Agri-Fab 45-0295 48-Inch Tine Tow Dethatcher is a great price and a great product well worth the money. If you are investing in a lawn dethatcher for your riding mower this dethatcher is worth considering.

John Deere 40 Inch Dethatcher Plug Aerator Combo

John Deere 40 Inch Dethatcher Plug Aerator Combo

The John Deere 40 Inch Dethatcher Plug Aerator Combo made our list due to its quality build. As any John Deere fan would tell you John Deere makes quality products. In this case they would be correct because the John Deere dethatcher plug aerator combo is one of the best built dethatchers on our list.

Weighing in at around 108 pounds this is also the heaviest pull behind dethatacher on our list. In part thanks to the frame and the pneumatic tires. If that’s not enough weight the durable steel weight deck can support up to another 100 pounds. Blocks and straps not included.

Being a plug aerator combo adds to the versatility of this dethatcher. It does require to remove the dethatcher in order to add the plug aerator. You’ll also need to get off the mower to lower and raise the unit as the level isn’t close enough to reach from the seat.

Features Include:

  • 40 Inch Dethatching Path
  • Plug Aerator Attachment
  • 24 Galvanized Rust Proof Tines
  • Durable Steel Weight Deck
  • 2 Pneumatic Tires
  • Universal Hitch
  • Easy Stand-up for Storage

Okay so why isn’t this our top choice? Simple because of the price. Taking the fact that it is a brand name product it’s still expensive. The quality is great and the fact that it’s a combo model is nice but unless you plan on using your dethatcher on a regular basis we couldn’t justify the cost.

Doing a Google search for customer reviews we found a number a positive and a few negative reviews. For the positive reviews customers where happy with the way it worked how durable it was.

As for the negative reviews we found some complaints about the instructions which is the case for everything. There was also mention about the weld for the handle was poorly designed.

What We Liked

Quality and construction of the John Deere 40 Inch Dethatcher Plug Aerator Combo is what we like most. Being that it’s John Deere you know the customer support is there.

What We Don’t Like

Like we said earlier the price is the biggest disadvantage with this dethatcher. If money is no object or you are just a die hard John Deere fan than by all means have at it.


This is a tough call as the John Deere 40 Inch Dethatcher Plug Aerator Combo is a great dethatcher just not at a great price. Of course a great price is always more of ones opinion and what one finds to expensive someone else may think it’s a great deal.

Yard Commander 40 Inch Tow Behind Tine Dethatcher

Yard Commander 40 Inch Tow Behind Tine Dethatcher

Got to admit we couldn’t find any information about the Yard Commander 40 Inch Tow Behind Tine Dethatcher. Basically the only reason it’s listed here is to let you know it’s out there and is an option. Not one we would recommend. At least not at this time.

The Yard Commander 40 Inch Tow Behind Tine Dethatcher has the standard features and appears to be built somewhat similar to the
Brinly DT-40BH Tow Behind Dethatcher. With a 40 inch dethatching path and a 70 pound weight tray.

Features Include:

  • 40 Inch Dethaching Path
  • 3/16″ Heat Treated Tines (20)
  • 7 Inch Tires
  • Rust Resistant Powder Coat Finish
  • Weight Tray (70 lbs Max)
  • Item Weight: 30 Pounds
  • Universal Hitch

Like the information we couldn’t find any reviews on the Yard Commander dethatcher either. Could be because it’s a fairly new listing or just because no one has reviewed it.

What We Liked

Not much to like here other than the standard features. I’m sure it’ll work as intended but is it worth the risk?

What We Don’t Like

The lack of information makes this a hard choice to spend money on.


Just because we don’t recommend it and have next to no information about it doesn’t mean it’s a bad dethatcher. It does however mean it might be more of a risky purchase when compared to the other choices here. On the plus side it is another option.


With a little luck you at least have an idea about how to dethatch your lawn now. Dethatching is an ongoing process of proper lawn care and to ensure your lawn is healthy and green. Typically only done once or twice a year it’s still worth doing and doing right. Having the right tool for the job makes life a lot easier.

If you have any questions please feel free to comment below. Let us know what dethatcher you use and how you like it. Which dethatcher would you recommend?

About The Author:
Scott Michael
Founder & Owner of I enjoy being outdoors and working outdoors. Found myself always looking up this and that to make life easier when trying to do something so figured I'd start sharing what I learn. Hopes it helps someone out.