To have a lush, green lawn of which you can be proud can often take a lot of hard work and attention to detail. If you’re looking for a faster result to having that great lawn, dethatching might be the first step.
Thatch is the mat of dead grass clippings, leaf litter, and tree needles left behind throughout the season. The best dethatcher enables you to loosen the thick thatch that sits between the ground soil and the grass above which prevents new seedlings from emerging and growing. Removing that thatch also allows sunlight to penetrate and water to soak in, to further promote a thicker, greener lawn. The best dethatchers can even remove moss to a degree. Keep reading to find out why the best dethatcher is worth adding to your lawn-care arsenal.
- BEST OVERALL: Greenworks 10 Amp 14-Inch Corded Dethatcher, 27022
- RUNNER-UP: Sun Joe AJ801E 12 Amp Electric Scarifier/Dethatcher
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Agri-Fab 40 in. Tow Lawn Dethatcher
- UPGRADE PICK: John Deere 40 in. Tow-Behind Thatcherator
- BEST MANUAL: Wolf-Garten Interlocken Dethatching Rake 12“
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Brinly DT-48BH Tow Behind Dethatcher, 48-Inch
- BEST SWEEPER ATTACHMENT: Agri-Fab 45-0343 Tine Dethatcher for Tow Sweepers
- BEST MOWER ATTACHMENT: Brinly DT-40BH Tow Behind Dethatcher, 40-Inch
Types of Dethatchers
Before you start shopping for the best dethatcher, it’s important to understand the different styles of dethatchers available. Each has its own pros and cons, so getting to know how each type works will help you to make a better decision on which is the best dethatcher for your needs.
Those with smaller yards and the desire to get in their fitness steps for the day might prefer motorized dethatchers. These look just like small lawn mowers, and they have motors that spin small dethatching tines that dig and loosen the thatch.
Most motorized dethatchers are corded electric, so they require an outdoor power supply nearby or a long extension cord. They are best for small lawns or small areas that tend to need dethatching. On the plus side, they only require walking back and forth, so they’re easy to use. They’re also relatively low maintenance.
If you have a large yard and a riding mower or a tractor, a tow-behind dethatcher could be an excellent addition to your lawn-care lineup. These dethatchers attach to the hitch on the back of a lawn mower, a tractor, a four-wheeler, or a side-by-side. As one of these motorized machines pulls the dethatcher across the lawn, it loosens up the thatch quickly and easily.
Tow-behind dethatchers are incredibly easy to use, requiring minimal effort once they’re properly attached. They can even be dragged behind a riding lawn mower to complete two jobs in half the time. A tow-behind dethatcher can be a bit challenging to store, since many models are as much as 4 feet wide.
Like tow-behind dethatchers, attachments can turn other lawn tools such as lawnmowers, into the occasional dethatcher. This can require a little bit of work, since the user has to replace mower blades with dethatching blades. Most attachments for mowers fit 20-inch decks. Check attachment information that comes from the dethatcher blade manufacturer for best results.
After using the push mower to dethatch the lawn, replace the dethatching blades with the original mowing blades and you are ready for regular lawn maintenance until the need to dethatch again. Purchasing a thatching attachment not only saves on storage space but it’s also less costly than purchasing a thatching machine.
If you don’t mind a bit of hard work, you can save substantial money and go for a manual dethatcher. This tool looks very similar to a standard yard rake, and it allows users to focus their efforts on small areas to ensure they can get to all the thatch.
Since they’re similar in size and shape to a rake, manual dethatchers take up little space and are ideal for small garages or workshops short on storage. They do require a bit more effort, so they’re most useful for small patches of compact thatch and smaller properties.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Dethatcher
There are quite a few factors that go into choosing the best dethatcher. This section will outline some of the most important considerations to keep in mind while looking through the different options. This will help you find the best dethatcher for your lawn’s size and one that will pair well with existing lawn equipment.
The size of the lawn might be the most significant consideration when shopping for the best dethatcher. Certain models are more than sufficient for a small yard, but they could easily fall short when dethatching an acre or two.
For tiny yards on tight city lots, a manual dethatcher is often the way to go. The tool is easy to store, and since there’s not likely to be a lot of thick thatch, it is more than sufficient for loosening up the dead grass and leaves.
For midsize properties up to an acre or two, a motorized dethatcher might be just the ticket. These units can dethatch a lawn quickly. Since most are electric, a nearby power source is a must.
For large properties, manual and motorized dethatchers just won’t do. If you have a few acres of land, a pull-behind dethatcher that attaches to a mower or a tractor is considerably more efficient at scraping up that thatch.
Dethatching is not a heavy-duty activity, and it doesn’t require a big, powerful machine to get the job done. The layer of grass and leaf litter that sits within most lawns is easy for a typical dethatcher to disturb, so a basic electric motor will work.
Generally speaking, these motors will have between 10 and 15 amps, with 15 amps being on the heavier-duty side of things. If a yard borders on the larger side of small, go with a higher amperage, which will do a better job of cooling the engine while running. A smaller property, however, doesn’t require more than 10 amps.
The tines are the small finger-like prongs that dig into the thatch and loosen it. The number of tines included on any dethatcher type typically depends on the width of the machine. As the tines rotate around the shaft (or get pulled through the yard), they dig into the thatch, lift it, and break it up.
The material of the tines also matters, since thatch is often damp and can cause corrosion of some materials. Stainless steel and spring steel tines are the best, since they’re both strong and can resist the effects of corrosion. Stainless steel is certainly the material to have for those preferring a low-maintenance tool.
Occasionally, you might want a dethatcher to dig a bit deeper into the thatch. This might be true if you’ve forgotten to dethatch in the fall, and winter’s snow has packed the grass clippings, tree needles, leaf litter, and small twigs into a thick mat. In those cases, a bit more weight can help give a dethatcher more bite.
Some tow-behind dethatchers can have weight added to them to help drive the tines deeper into tough thatch. If a light-duty dethatcher just isn’t getting the job done, consider moving to a tow-behind that can take a little extra weight.
When it comes to choosing the best dethatcher, keep in mind that the tools come in different widths. They range from about 12 inches to more than 48 inches wide, offering a variety of choices for small yards as well as large properties.
The larger the dethatcher’s width, the fewer passes it will have to make to cover the property. But, if there are any narrow paths through the property, such as between trees or gates, it can be difficult to maneuver a larger dethatcher through. Consider the narrowest parts of the property before selecting a dethatcher.
There are a few additional features on some dethatcher models that might help make the decision easier. Many of the best dethatchers have adjustable heights to make the tines sink deeper into thick thatch or run higher and smoother over thin grass. This can be a significant benefit, particularly if there are varying thicknesses of thatch throughout the lawn.
Some tow-behind dethatchers have levers that lift and lower the tines into the grass. This is a handy feature when crossing over driveways or pathways. The tines can be lifted without the user having to get off the tractor and then lowered back down when clear from the pavement or concrete.
Our Top Picks
Thatch can be thick and block the sun from the grass underneath, but this section will shed some light on some of the best dethatchers. The list includes options for nearly any yard size. Be sure to keep these shopping considerations in mind while searching for the best dethatcher.
For small to midsize yards, lawn-care buffs should check out Greenworks 14-Inch Corded Dethatcher. This electric dethatcher features a 10-amp motor, offering plenty of capability for city lots and suburban yards. It cuts a 14-inch wide dethatching path with its 18 stainless steel tines, which allows for fewer passes over the lawn to complete the job.
The Greenworks model has a few other impressive features as well. The padded grip and adjustable handle allows for comfortable pushing, while it also folds for easier storage. There’s even a safety button to keep the dethatcher from starting accidentally. Also, the three adjustable heights allow users to choose how deeply they’d like to dig into the thatch.
Dethatching often leaves a mess behind that requires additional time and effort on cleanup. With Sun Joe’s AJ801E dethatcher, it’s a one-step process. This corded electric dethatcher has an 8-gallon bag attached to the rear of the machine to catch loose clippings and leaf litter—a nice feature to speed up the job when dethatching small yards.
The Sun Joe features a 13-inch wide thatching path, a 12-amp motor, and spring steel tines, to take care of midsize yards quickly and efficiently. It also features a folding handle for easy storage and an instant-start button for getting to work right away. There is also a five-position height adjustment for dialing in the desired dethatching depth.
Photo: homedepot.com Agri-Fab’s Tow Lawn Dethatcher features a tray for additional weight and an adjustable handle for lifting and lowering the tines, all at an affordable price point.
When it comes to value-minded lawn-care products, the 40-inch Tow Lawn Dethatcher by Agri-Fab is worth a good look. This tow-behind dethatcher has a universal hitch for attaching to any lawn tractor, four-wheeler, or side-by-side, as well as 20 heat-treated tines distributed across its 40-inch width for strength and longevity.
The Agri-Fab has a weight tray for adding concrete blocks or bricks weighing up to 70 pounds, improving its ability to dig into thick thatch. It also has a handle that users can reach from the seat of a lawn tractor, that allows the convenience of lifting and lowering the tines without getting out of the seat. With its 40-inch width and universal hitch, this dethatcher is an effective and affordable tool for large properties.[
John Deere’s Thatcherator might be the way to go when looking to improve the overall health of the lawn on a large property. This 40-inch tow-behind dethatcher features 20 stainless steel tines that dig deeply into thatch while also aerating the top layer of soil for improved airflow as well as better moisture and sunlight penetration.
This dethatcher has plenty of upgrade features to offer as well. It has a heavy-duty weight tray for adding some bite to the tines. It also features a lever within easy reach of a lawn tractor seat for lifting and lowering the tines. The universal hitch will link up to any lawn tractor, four-wheeler, or side-by-side. Also, the wheels are set back a bit from the weight tray to minimize the width without sacrificing the wide dethatching path.
When it comes to dethatching a lawn the old-school way, Wolf-Garten’s Interlocken Dethatching Rake might be the tool to have. This rake features a 12-inch width with 10 spring tines made from stainless steel for plenty of strength and durability. The front of the tines are rounded, allowing users to push and pull it back and forth through the grass without lifting over and over again as is necessary to do with a rake or a lower-quality manual dethatcher.
The Wolf-Garten’s head features an adjustable tilting design for customizing to individual users. While this product doesn’t attach to a standard rake handle, Wolf-Garten sells the handle separately and it can interchange with other Wolf-Garten Interlocken tools such as rakes and cultivators.
When it comes to getting to the bottom of thickly thatched situations, a heavy-duty dethatcher like Brinly’s DT-48BH might be the tool for the job. This 48-inch tow-behind dethatcher is all about getting the tough job done in as few passes as possible. The 48-inch width has 24 spring steel tines that dig deep into thick thatch on large-size properties.
This dethatcher features all-steel construction and a tray for adding extra weight, improving the Brinly’s performance over rough terrain. The universal hitch links up to any tractor, ATV, or side-by-side. Also, the 8-inch never-flat tires mount behind the weight, promoting stability and leveling.
Anyone looking to improve the capability of their lawn sweeper should consider adding Agri-Fab’s dethatcher to the mix. This dethatching attachment bolts to the front of any tow-behind sweeper, breaking thatch up and bringing it to the surface for the sweeper to toss into the bag.
The Agri-Fab measures 42 inches wide, and it has one single row of heat-treated tines. While the unit itself doesn’t adjust, the single wheel and pivoting attachments allow it to adjust with the height of the sweeper. This unit installs to a standard sweeper with two U-bolts, linking it to the bar spanning across the front of the sweeper.
For lawn-care enthusiasts who prefer to attach a dethatcher to the rear of their riding lawn mower, Brinly’s DT40-BH Dethatcher keeps it simple but effective. This tow-behind dethatcher features a 40-inch-wide sweeping path full of 20 spring steel tines and rear-mounted wheels to improve maneuverability through tight spots.
This unit has a weight tray for adding up to 70 pounds of concrete blocks or bricks for improving the tines’ bite. It also has a height-adjusting lever within easy reach of a tractor seat, allowing users to adjust the height without getting off the mower. The universal hitch will link up with any mower or ATV as well.
FAQs About Dethatchers
If you still have some questions about the best dethatcher, this section is for you. It’s a collection of some of the most frequently asked questions about lawn dethatchers, so be sure to check for an answer to your question listed below.
Q. What is the difference between a scarifier and a dethatcher?
There aren’t many differences between a scarifier and a dethatcher. The main difference is that a scarifier digs deeper into the thatch, moss, and even soil below the surface. Dethatchers simply loosen and remove the clippings and leaves.
Q. How often do I need to dethatch my lawn?
It’s best to dethatch your lawn twice a year: once in the spring after snow has packed the thatch down and once in the fall before snow lands on the new thatch.
Q. Should I fertilize my lawn after dethatching?
Dethatching your lawn can be rough on the grass left behind, so it’s best to fertilize right after dethatching to help the grass recover.