Which dethatching rakes are best?

Dethatching is an essential part of lawn maintenance. About half an inch of thatch is good for the grass because it can stabilize the soil temperature and prevent it from drying out too quickly. But if you let thatch build up, it can prevent essential nutrients, water and oxygen from reaching the grass roots. A good way to maintain a healthy lawn is to get a reliable dethatching rake.

What is thatch?

Thatch is organic matter such as grass leaves, stems and roots that start to build upon the soil. It’s normal to have a thin layer of thatch, but too much can lead to:

  • Plant disease
  • Dead or thinning patches of grass
  • Pests
  • Poor drainage or puddles

Thatch naturally occurs over time, but it can build up more quickly due to:

  • Too much/frequent watering
  • Excessive use of pesticides or fertilizers
  • Collected grass cuttings from mowing the lawn

When to dethatch a lawn

The best time to dethatch a lawn is when the grass is growing. This means early fall or late summer for northern grasses and early or late spring for southern grasses. You should also do this before aerating the yard with a lawn aerator.

Types of dethatchers

Dethatchers are tools that dig into the topmost layer of soil to loosen organic matter. Some use flexible tines, while others have stiff claws that let them do this. On its own, a dethatcher cannot get rid of thatch. It can, however, make it easier to collect it manually once it’s been broken up.

There are two types of dethatching rakes:

  • Manual: These look and function similar to traditional rakes. They have tines or claws that can dig into the thatch, loosen it and pull it up.
  • Powered: Sometimes called power rakes, these use a motor and typically have a cord. They can handle tough buildup.

There are also tow-behind and front-mount dethatchers. They go either behind or in front of a tractor or lawnmower and can loosen up thatch as you go. Although they’re not rakes, they’re good for larger yards and areas with a lot of thatch buildup.

Dethatching rake features

Handle

Dethatching rakes usually have a long handle that lets the user stand in an upright position while using it. The handle material usually consists of:

  • Plastic: Plastic handles are inexpensive, but can bend or break with rigorous use.
  • Wood: These usually last longer than plastic handles. However, untreated wood is more susceptible to splintering or rotting.
  • Metal: Metal handles are long-lasting and durable. They can rust if they’re exposed to moisture for too long.
  • Fiberglass: These are durable and resistant to the elements, but they are also more expensive than other options.

Some handles have extra padding for a nonslip or more ergonomic grip. This can make using them easier and less likely to cause strain from repeated movements.

Tines

Every dethatching tool has tines. Unlike traditional rakes, dethatching rakes have sharp, thin tines designed to dig into the top layer of soil and remove organic matter. These tines can consist of different materials, including plastic or metal. Generally, steel tines are best since they’re durable and don’t bend, rust or break easily.

Some rakes have thicker tines with a curved or bent shape that lets them collect more thatch from the earth. Others have many thin tines that are placed closely together to break up more thatch with every pull of the rake.

The more tines there are, and the longer they are, the more thatch they can break up. Most rakes have tines that are about 5 inches in length. Consider the size of your yard and how much thatch buildup you have when choosing one.

Head

Dethatching rakes have different head sizes. Some powered rakes are around 14 inches wide, while others are even wider than that. The larger the head, the greater the surface the rake can cover. A larger head can reduce the amount of time it takes to dethatch the yard. However, it can also add more weight to the tool, making it more physically intensive to use it.

Consider how durable the head is, too. If the head isn’t strong enough, the tines could fall or break off during use. In some cases, you can get a replacement head and tines for your rake, which can extend its longevity.

Best dethatching rakes

Ames 16-Tine Steel Double Play Bow Rake With Fiberglass Handle

Ames 28252100 16-Tine Steel Double Play Bow Rake With Fiberglass Handle

This dethatching rake comes with either a fiberglass or a hardwood handle. Both options come with 16 steel tines and a 10-inch cushioned grip. The fiberglass handle is reinforced with steel, while the wood handle consists of sturdy North American hardwood. Sold by Amazon

Coconut Garden Rake

Coconut Garden Rake

Made for removing thatch and leaves from the yard, this sturdy rake comes with either a 5- or 6-foot handle and a 14-tine head. The handle consists of stainless steel that’s resistant to rust or corrosion. It’s also adjustable and easy to assemble. Sold by Amazon

Ames 54-inch Hardwood Handle 19-Tine Adjustable Thatch Rake

Ames 54-inch Hardwood Handle 19-Tine Adjustable Thatch Rake

With a specialized head made for dethatching purposes, this durable rake has a 14.25-inch head and 19 tines. Each tine is straight-edged and designed to remove organic debris with ease, and the hardwood handle is sturdy and comfortable to use. Sold by Home Depot

Bully Tools 24-Tine Leaf And Thatching Rake

Bully Tools 24-Tine Leaf And Thatching Rake

Constructed with a lightweight fiberglass handle, this multipurpose rake has 24 spring steel tines that can loosen up debris and the top layer of soil. It’s lightweight enough for those with less wrist and arm strength. Plus, it’s great for dealing with small yards. Sold by Amazon

Razor-Back Rake

Razor-Back 51-inch Fiberglass Handle 24-Tine Steel Rake

This dethatching rake has 24 tines that are solidly connected to a steel rake head. Durable and resistant to breaking or bending, the handle has a 9-inch cushioned grip that makes using it more comfortable. It also has a 51-inch fiberglass handle that’s perfect for shorter to medium-height people. Sold by Home Depot

Sun Joe 13-inch 12-Amp Electric Scarifier Plus Lawn Dethatcher With Collection Bag

Sun Joe 13-inch 12-Amp Electric Scarifier Plus Lawn Dethatcher With Collection Bag

This electric-powered dethatcher has an adjustable depth control knob that’s useful for getting into deeper layers of thatch. It has a powerful 12-amp motor and is 13 inches wide, making it ideal for larger yards. It also comes with a small bag for collecting thatch. Sold by Home Depot

Greenworks 14-Inch 10-Amp Corded Dethatcher

Greenworks 14-Inch 10-Amp Corded Dethatcher

This powered rake comes with a 10-amp motor and has a head width of 14 inches. It has three adjustable depth positions and sharp, durable stainless steel tines and an ergonomic padded grip. Sold by Amazon

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