Power Rake vs Dethatcher: Which Do You Need?

Power Rake vs Dethatcher

If you want to take great care of your lawn and keep your grass looking lush and green all year long, you need the right tools for the job.

Lawn maintenance can seem overly complicated, but it does not have to be if you know what your yard truly needs to stay healthy and well maintained. The power rakes for sale in this list can be a great asset to your maintenance routine and save you a lot of work in the long run.

What Is Thatch?

All lawns eventually grow a layer of thatch. Thatch is a layer of intermingled living and dead organic material including shoots, stems, and roots that sits in between the live grass blades and the soil layer. As this layer grows thicker and denser, grass roots begin to grow into the thatch itself instead of the soil.

Thatch can prevent grass from absorbing enough water and fertilizer, resulting in dead spots or a patchy, yellow look to your lawn. Thatch can also trap moisture and humidity, creating an ideal environment for fungi, mold, and bacteria.

Thatch grows thicker faster in over-fertilized lawns or in poorly aerated soil. If your soil cannot drain effectively, you will have a bigger problem with thatch. Using a dethatcher rake and aerating are both important steps to maintaining a healthy lawn year after year.

How To Identify Thatch Issues

Thatch can cause a number of symptoms in your lawn. Knowing what to look for can help you identify whether your lawn needs to be dethatched, power raked, or something else entirely.

  • Brown grass is a clear sign of problems. If your grass is not getting enough water due to thick thatch, it will look brown and spotty. The longer this goes untreated, the more the dead area will spread.
  • Spongy lawns can be a sign of thatch, too. As mentioned above, thatch holds moisture and this can make your lawn feel spongy and springy. It may look healthy and green, but if you feel sponginess under your feet you may have a thatch issue.
  • Take a sample: Using a bulb planter or trowel, slice a core sample of your lawn in a few different locations. Thatch will be clearly visible as a brown or yellow layer in between the green grass and brown dirt.
  • Remember that some thatch is OK and normal for a healthy lawn. You have a problem when thatch approaches 1/2 inch in thickness.
  • If you do not see a thick layer of thatch, you may want to look into other causes such as over-fertilizing or under-fertilizing, or disease.

Power Raking Vs. Dethatching: What Is The Difference?

Many homeowners have the misconception that dethatchers and power rakes are two names for the same machine. They are indeed similar but are used for different purposes. Dethatching is less aggressive and removes small amounts of thatch from a lawn that is mostly healthy. Power raking is more aggressive and usually reserved for lawns with a large amount of thatch.

Dethatchers are smaller, residential-grade machines that may look like a push mower or may attach to a mower or tiller. Dethatchers use steel spring tines to penetrate and remove a small amount of thatch. They can handle thatch layers less than half an inch thick and are best used for yearly maintenance.

sun joe dethatcher joe


The best dethatcher for sale in 2018 is the Sun Joe Dethatcher Joe, an electric model with a relatively powerful motor, five depth adjustments, and the most spring tines for efficient dethatching.

You can also check out my article on the Top 5 Best Dethatchers to learn more about these helpful tools and choose the best one for your lawn.

Power rakes also remove thatch from your lawn, but they are much more heavy-duty and usually reserved for industrial or commercial use. These electric rakes work for large areas of grass or turf. If you have a thatch layer over half an inch thick, or if you have not dethatched in many years, you probably need to power rake. Power rakes can remove up to 4x as much thatch as home dethatchers can.

Billy Goat PR550H, Power Rake and Overseeder

As I mentioned above, power rakes are usually sold business-to-business to lawn maintenance companies and other commercial or industrial users. However, if you have a serious thatch problem you may want to invest in a power rake for your home. Billy Goat makes a high quality power rake for home use. The model 0S552H Power Rake and Overseeder with Autodrop is the best gas power rake for sale if you have serious lawn maintenance to take care of.


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