When is the Best Time to Dethatch Your Lawn in 2023

Written by Ivy

Jan 07 2023

When is the Best Time to Dethatch Your Lawn in 2023

Dethatching should be done on warm season grasses in the late spring or summer and on cool season grasses in the late summer or early fall. These times favor quick recovery and coincide with their yearly growth spurts. After the dethatching, there will be at least three or four weeks of favorable weather for growing.

What is Thatch

On the grass, thatch refers to the accumulation of organic material. When it occurs in lawns, it typically happens at the base of the grass, where the soil and roots are woven together with the grass stems.

Thatching is not always a negative thing. In fact, depending on how much, it might be the exact opposite. The grass may benefit from a thin layer of thatching that is less than 1.5 cm thick because it acts as a mulch to protect the lawn from extreme temperature changes and keeps the soil's moisture levels stable.

Why You Need to Dethatch

There are some lawn grass varieties that are more prone to thatch buildup than others. Sometimes even the local climate influences how quickly the mulch breaks down. Thatch would become thicker if plant matter was broken down more slowly than it was being built up.

greater than 1. a buildup of thatch 5 cm may be deterrent to the healthy development of your lawn. The soil and grass may be unable to access and absorb the necessary water and nutrients if the thatch builds up too much. Thatching may also result in rot, shallow root growth, or root suffocation. Without routine dethatching, the thatch layer may promote the spread of pests and diseases on your lawn.

Pick a spot on your lawn where growth is slower or there is a noticeable discoloration, and use a spade to dig up a small wedge to measure the amount of thatch there is there. Dethatching is necessary if the thatching measures more than 1.5 cm.

However, other times you might not even have to dig into the grass to see the thatching. You may notice larger areas with matted thatch patches or feel certain areas to be spongy simply by walking around and looking, which will make your lawn appear uneven and discolored. Dethatching is necessary if you notice that the grass is covered in an excessive amount of matted mulch.

When is the Best Time to Dethatch Your Lawn

When to Dethatch Your Lawn

Only warm-season grasses like Kikuyu, couch grass, zoysia, and buffalo grass are typically recommended for dethatching. After giving the grass time to recover from the winter, the best time to dethatch is from late October to early December. Your lawn might not be able to recover over the winter if you dethatch too late in the growing season.

Cool-season grass shouldn't be subjected to certain dethatching techniques. For problems with thatching in cool-season grass, coring is advised as a superior solution. View the complete lawn coring guide here. However, if you give them enough growing season—at least 30 days—to recover, you can use power rakes on them in the fall.

How to Dethatch Your Lawn

You can dethatch your lawn using a variety of techniques and tools.

Dethatching Rake

You can choose to use a manual dethatching rake and your own strength. The least disruptive approach is this one. To remove the thatch from the ground, you must run the tines over the entire lawn. While this technique can help you save money, it is also the most labor-intensive and impractical if you have a larger lawn or a more severe thatch buildup. This method is for people who have a lot of time and energy to devote to dethatching because it takes place at least twice and sometimes three times a year for a lot of lawns. Another drawback is that it is a slower process.


Another method for removing thatch is through scalping, which is mowing the lawn to as close as possible to the soil or its "scalp." In order to cut the grass as close to the soil as possible and get rid of thatching, this technique involves setting the lawnmower as low as possible. Be careful when cutting your lawn because some grass can withstand being aggressively mowed, but other grass needs a few leaves to recover.

Power Rake

The use of specialized equipment, such as a power rake, is another technique for dethatching the lawn. Power rakes have the drawback of being rather pricey if you buy them yourself because they are specialized equipment. Renting the machine to dethatch your lawn is a more practical option, especially since you will only need it twice or three times per year. Another choice is to hire experts to take care of the dethatching for you.

The soil must be moist but not drenched in order to use power rakes for dethatching effectively. The day before, water it. If the ground is too soggy, additional healthy grass may be pulled out with the thatch. Use the power rake to go over a few spots and adjust as necessary if you are not yet familiar with how deep you should set the tines. The tines should be positioned so that they can reach deep enough to rake off the thatch without going too far and uprooting the soil. To ensure that all undesirable thatching is eliminated, you might need to make two or more passes over the lawn with a power rake.


Scarifiers are also known as dethatchers. Scarifiers are used for an aggressive dethatching process as opposed to power rakes. This dethatcher digs deep into the ground in addition to removing surface thatch. For lawns that are already in need of reseeding or the application of new instant grass, some people use scarifiers.

The process for scarifying is essentially the same as that for using power rakes, with the exception that the objective is to drive the tines or blades deeper so that they can scar the soil.

When is the Best Time to Dethatch Your Lawn

Common Causes of Thatch

According to Don Callahan of the Yamhill County Extension in Oregon, people used to believe thatch is made up of grass clippings. But thick thatch is a result of other things:

  • Dead leaves decaying along with stems and roots
  • Roots growing in the thatch but not reaching the soil under it
  • Lateral shoot growth (aka stolons and rhizomes), something that can happen when thatch interferes with roots trying to grow down
  • Infrequent mowing. During the growing season, lawns should be mowed weekly. If you want to keep measuring, check out a complete list of recommended mowing heights for each type of grass.
  • Taking off too much at once: In order to mow properly, you should adhere to the one-third rule, which states that you should only remove up to one-third of the grass's height.) per mow. It can weaken the grass and prolong its recovery time to remove too much at once because of the stress this causes. If your lawn is too high, mow it more frequently to bring it down.
  • Excessive water: Giving the lawn too much water or having wet soil (often caused by drainage problems)
  • Dry soils, when it is chronic or when the thatch is keeping water from getting through
  • Pesticides used on a regular basis, not as needed. They can also eliminate earthworms, which promote the decomposition of thatch.
  • The type of grass matters. Some turfgrass species produce a lot of stem tissue: Cool-season grasses to watch include Creeping red fescue, creeping bentgrass, and Kentucky bluegrass. Perennial ryegrass and tall fescue, on the other hand, don't contribute significantly to the buildup of thatch.

What to Do After Dethatching

The removed thatch should be immediately cleaned up and properly disposed of. To remove the thatch, you can either rake it off by hand or use a rotary lawn mower equipped with a catcher.

Leave the thatch off the ground because it will cover the grass and prevent it from growing. Regardless of the technique used, after dethatching, feed and water the lawn. Topdressing and reseeding may also be necessary if more aggressive dethatching is performed.

When is the Best Time to Dethatch Your Lawn


Are the Clippings Caused by Mowing a Problem?

Contrary to popular belief, short clippings left on the lawn after mowing do not contribute to thatch buildup. Assuming that lawns are mowed regularly (not removing more than one-third of the leaf blade), grass clippings have a very high water content and decompose quickly when returned to lawns after mowing.

What is the Difference Between Dethatching and Aerating a Lawn

The organic matter that obstructs the movement of nutrients is removed during dethatching. Aeration involves removing soil cores, which relieves compacted soil and creates room for roots to expand. Small amounts of thatch will be eliminated through aeration.

Are There Times When You Shouldn't Dethatchz?

When it's hot outside, when there's a drought, or in the late fall when winter is approaching, dethatching should be avoided. Dethatching is best done at the start of the active growing season for grass.

In Terms of Dethatching, What is a Good Soil PH?

The breakdown of thatch and microbial activity are both favored by a soil pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.


When your lawn is actively growing and the soil is slightly moist, is the ideal time to dethatch it. That would be early spring or early fall for cool-season grasses. Dethatch warm-season grasses in late spring to early summer (following the second mowing). Your grass will be growing at its fastest rate at that time.