Looking to dethatch your lawn, but don't want to pay for a regular dethatching machine?
One option for dethatching your lawn is to use a regular lawn mower.
In order to do this, you’ll need to attach something called a dethatching blade to your mower.
Do dethatching blades work?
Yes, and no. Mower-attached dethatching blades can absolutely produce results and remove thatch layers.
However, they aren’t necessarily the best way to do so—and the common consensus is that they are only moderately effective overall.
The big advantage of using a dethatching blade over a specialized dethatcher machine or appliance is that it requires minimal investment and space usage—you can just swap it into your regular lawnmower.
What Are Dethatching Blades?
A dethatching blade is a blade that attaches to a regular lawn mower, designed specifically to combat thatch buildup on a lawn.
Rather than a traditional blade which acts to cut the grass, dethatching lawn mower blades pull thatch up to the surface of the lawn.
In order to do this, they typically have spike-like protrusions from the ends of the blades, which will hook under the thatch and pull it to the surface as the blade spins.
How To Choose an Appropriate Dethatching Blade
Dethatching blades come in many varieties, and it can be daunting to try and pick the correct one for you.
This isn’t helped by the fact that most mowers can be paired with several different kinds of blades.
Here are some things that can help you make a decision about which blade is best for you:
Metal or Nylon?
Dethatching blades will either have metal or nylon prongs on them that are used to scoop up the thatch.
Metal prongs tend to be more durable than nylon ones, but also have a higher risk of damaging your lawn’s healthy grass when used.
Nylon prongs are also not as strong, and so aren’t always as effective with thick layers of thatch.
The other thing to consider when choosing your blade type is whether or not you have a large lawn.
If you have a large lawn and will be dethatching relatively frequently, you’ll probably be served best by the more durable metal tine option. Meanwhile, if you have a smaller lawn, it’s better to go with the nylon option.
Obviously, you’ll want your dethatching blade to actually fit your mower.
For this reason, you’ll need to make sure that the size of the dethatching blade isn’t any larger than your existing lawn mower blade.
However, you’ll also generally want your blade to be as big as possible, as this will allow you to tackle the largest area of lawn.
Does It Work With Your Mower?
It’s easy to forget this one, but it’s the most important point. You should make sure that the dethatching blade you’re getting is actually compatible with your mower.
This is especially important if you have an older or less common mower, as this means that dethatching blades that work with your mower may be more difficult to find.
Just like any other product, considering reviews of the product and the overall reputation of the brand is important.
Before purchasing a dethatching blade, make sure that you have checked the reviews for any major flaws that others have experienced.
Power Rakes vs. Lawn Mower Dethatching: What’s Better?
The answer to this depends on what your situation is, just like the kind of dethatching blade you would choose when using a lawn mower.
Power rakes (and scarifiers) are great at removing thick layers of thatch, and often come as ride-on options– meaning that you can dethatch a larger lawn with more thatch more efficiently.
Lawn mower dethatching is more suited to a thinner layer of thatch or a smaller lawn, as finding dethatcher blades for ride-on lawn mowers can be quite difficult.
You can also get handheld power rakes or dethatchers, which may be another option worth considering if you have a smaller lawn which accumulates a large amount of thatch.
One tool we don't recommend for dethatching is a regular rake, because it's too weak. And a verticutter is actually too aggressive.
How To Tell If You Need To Dethatch
There are several pros and cons to dethatching your lawn. Here's how you can tell when you need to do it.
Your Lawn is Spongy
If you walk on your lawn and notice that it feels spongy, that’s a sign that you might need to dethatch. Spongy lawns are often caused by a thick layer of thatch cushioning your footsteps.
Your Lawn isn’t Draining Well
If you’re noticing that your lawn takes a long time to drain after rain or watering (or in particularly serious cases, has surface water accumulation), this is another sign that you may need to dethatch. Thatch layers often prevent proper drainage.
Your Lawn is Contracting Diseases
Many lawn diseases are caused or exacerbated by a buildup of thatch.
As a result, if you’re noticing a spike in lawn disease symptoms, it might be worth adding dethatching to your treatment plan.
Your Lawn is Growing Poorly, Even in Optimal Conditions
A lawn that is growing poorly, even when conditions are perfect, is a sign that nutrients and water may be being blocked from entering the soil by a layer of thatch.
After you've dethatched, you can either compost the remaining thatch or throw it away.
What Is Dethatching, and Why Is It Beneficial?
Dethatching is the process of removing thatch from your lawn. Every lawn is different, but you should only have to dethatch every 1-2 years. Just be sure not to dethatch your lawn after it rains or is very wet.
Thatch is a buildup of garden waste (grass clippings, dead grass, weed debris, and so on) that exists between the soil layer and the top of the grass.
Removing the layer of excessive thatch between soil and grass improves the soil’s ability to absorb any moisture, meaning that your lawn will drain more quickly.
Allows Nutrients To Penetrate Soil
Nutrients will not filter through to the soil particularly well if there is a thick layer of thatch in the way. If your thatch is thick enough, there may be very little nutrients absorbed into the soil at all.
Dethatching gives improved access to the soil, and so increases the amount of nutrients that it will absorb.
Helps Root Growth
Where there is a lot of pressure on the soil from the existence of a thatch layer, grass will find it more difficult to put down new roots.
Removing the thatch will allow greater mobility of new roots and encourage their production.
Promotes Fertilizer Penetration
Just like with natural nutrients, a thick layer of thatch will prevent any fertilizer you apply to the lawn fully penetrating to the soil, and so reduces its effect significantly.
Dethatching is therefore a great way to improve the efficiency of your fertilization process.
Stimulates Existing Grass Roots
Because additional nutrients are penetrating the soil, the roots of your lawn will be encouraged to grow deeper– giving you a healthier lawn overall.
Helps to Prepare A Lawn For Reseeding
In order to reseed a lawn, you need to put the grass seeds directly into the soil. A layer of thatch in the way will prevent you from doing this well, so removing it before reseeding is paramount.
Promotes Healthy Grass
Removing thatch will reduce constriction on grass and soil, allowing them to grow more freely and preventing any damage to the root system from soil compression.
Related: Does Your Lawn Look Bad After Dethatching?
The Bottom Line
Dethatching blades that you attach to your mower do indeed work to dethatch your lawn.
Although they may not be as effective as specialized dethatching equipment is, they’re still able to perform the task that you need them to– particularly if your thatch layer is thin.
There are a few different types of dethatching blades, and you should make sure to check that you are getting the right one for your needs.