What To Do With Thatch After Dethatching

Written by Mike Futia

Updated January 12, 2023

  • After dethatching, you'll want to remove the thatch layer from your lawn.
  • You can either throw the thatch away, or compost the thatch.
  • Then, you should aerate, overseed, and fertilize your lawn.

So you've dethatched your lawn, and now you're wondering what you should do after dethatching?

First, you need to remove the thatch layer from your lawn by either throwing it away, or using it for compost.

Then, you'll want to perform additional treatments on your lawn, including aeration, overseeding, and fertilizing.

Leaving Thatch Can Cause Issues

lawn sample

Taking a lawn sample

The reason you need to get rid of the thatch after dethatching is because it won't break down on its own (it won't decompose) like grass clippings do—even though it's made up of mostly organic matter.

Thatch left on top of your grass will mat back down to the surface of the soil, and it can become a breeding ground for disease, mold, and insects.

So, it's essential that you remove it.

Related: Does your lawn still look bad after dethatching?

Remove The Thatch From Your Lawn

First, you'll want to remove the thatch material and dead grass from your lawn by raking it, bagging it, and then either throwing it out, or using it for compost.

Rake Your Lawn (Or Use A Leaf Blower/Vacuum)

Pile of thatch

The first step you should take after dethatching is to rake up all the thatch buildup into piles. Using a simple leaf rake is enough to get the job done.

If you have a lot of thatch—or a big yard—you can also use a leaf blower to help get all the thatch into manageable piles.

Place The Thatch Into Bags

Placing thatch into bags

The next step is to get all those piles of thatch into lawn & leaf bags, or garbage bags. You can do this by hand, aided by a leaf rake.

The general rule of thumb to follow is that you'll need three garbage bags (or more) per 1,000 square feet of lawn.

Alternatively, you could use a leaf vacuum, but the bags that come with these machines usually aren't very big—meaning you'll have to swap out lots of bags if you have a big yard.

Related: When should you dethatch your lawn?

Option #1: Throwing The Thatch Away

If your local municipality offers a "green waste" option, then you can certainly go ahead and throw your thatch away. This is especially a good option if you have used chemicals or insecticides on your lawn in the months prior to dethatching. That's because chemicals are not safe to add to your compost.

Remember, thatch left on top of your lawn is a safe-haven for lawn disease and insects, so you'll want to throw it away within a few days of dethatching.

Related: How often should you dethatch your lawn?

Option #2: Composting The Thatch

You can also choose to compost your thatch. Just be aware that the thatch will take longer to break down than other garden debris.

Composting lawn thatch is an environmentally-friendly way to dispose of waste. By composting the thatch, you can reduce the amount of waste going to landfills and help improve your soil quality.

There are a number of benefits to composting lawn thatch. First, it helps reduce the amount of waste going to landfills. Second, it improves your soil quality by breaking down organic material into nutrient-rich fertilizer. Third, composted lawn thatch provides valuable nutrients for plants in gardens and landscaping applications.

Start by sorting your lawn thatch into large and small pieces. The small pieces will decompose faster in a compost pile, while the larger pieces will decompose more slowly and need to be ground down before they can be added to the mix.

Add moist organic materials (such as leaves, yard clippings, garden debris, etc.) to your piles every two weeks or so. Make sure the mixture is wet but not too waterlogged; too much moisture will slow down decomposition.

Note: Don't add salt or other chemical fertilizers until after you've finished composting lawn thatch because these chemicals could harm beneficial microorganisms in the soil.

Related: Benefits of dethatching your lawn & pros and cons of dethatching your lawn



Aeration plugs

After removing the loose thatch, you'll want to aerate your lawn. Lawn aeration is a process of adding air to soil in order to increase the available oxygen and water content. This increases plant growth, making your lawn healthier and more beautiful.

A properly aerated lawn will help prevent brown patches, reduce weed growth, and increase water absorption, and you'll want to aerate your lawn regularly.



Seeding the lawn

Overseeding is the process of planting grass seed into an existing lawn to thicken it up, improve its color, and crowd out weeds. Overseeding is a great way to improve the look of your lawn without having to start from scratch, and it has a number of other benefits as well.

By overseeding, you can help control weeds, provide more food for the grasses, and add moisture to the soil. You're also helping your grass blades build strong roots so your grass roots can sustain the stresses caused by dethatching.

So after dethatching and aerating, be sure to hit your lawn with with something like Scott's Turf Builder.



Adding fertilizer

After you're done overseeding, it's time to fertilize your lawn. We recommend hitting it with some Milorganite, which will help your lawn recover and get much-needed nutrients.

Fertilizer also helps to increase plant growth, combat weed proliferation, and promote a healthy lawn.


Finally, if you're feeling up for it, you can also topdress your lawn. Topdressing involves spreading a thin layer (¼-inch thick) of organic material (such as compost) on top of your lawn to amend your soil.

What we're looking for with topdressing is the nutrients—we're providing the lawn nutrients that slowly release into the soil to promote ideal growth for the turf.

Topdressing can also provide the root system a boost, and act as a form of weed control, filling in gaps before weeds have a chance to get a foothold.

In terms of timeline, it should take about 3-4 weeks for the lawn to fully recover and show signs of new growth.

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Mike Futia

My name is Mike, and I'm the owner and founder of NerdLawn.com. My lawn care advice has been featured on Family Handyman, Home & Gardens, Gardening Etc., and Apartment Therapy. I love nothing more than helping my readers achieve their dream lawns. That's why I started NerdLawn.com, where I share all of my best tips and tricks for keeping a lawn healthy and well-maintained. You can read more about our mission on our About Page.

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