If you want your lawn to stay green and healthy, you’ll need to maintain it well. However, most people don’t know what lawn maintenance entails and assume your lawn only needs mowing to keep it healthy. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, and since grass is delicate it needs a lot of care to remain green and healthy.
There’s a procedure you should follow when taking care of your lawn that includes both dethatching and aerating. So, is dethatching better than aerating? Both lawn care methods use different equipment but they accomplish the same goal. However, aeration does this without having to possibly damage your lawn the way dethatching does.
They’re both important practices when it comes to proper lawn care as they help with the easy flow of water, air, and nutrients for better growth and root penetration. While aeration is making holes in the ground to reduce soil compaction so the roots can easily access oxygen and moisture, dethatching is removing the thick layer of dead grass, root, and leaves that prevent water from reaching the soil and the penetration of the sun.
|When to use||Preparing your lawn for overseeding, dealing with patchy grass, hard to pierce the soil with a shovel, water puddles have formed||More than ½ an inch of thatch, preparing the lawn for overseeding|
|Issues addressed||Soil compaction||Excess thatch|
|Best time to use||When:
Overseeding when the soil is compacted.
Soil is too moist or too dry.
Grass is growing very fast.
|During mid-summer for warm-season grasses.
During mid to late spring or early to mid-fall for cold-season grasses.
When the soil is moist and the grass is growing fast.
|When not to use||In spring as it allows weeds to germinate and when the lawn has loose soil and the grass can easily grow roots||When thatch is less than ½ an inch and when the grass is growing slowly or is dormant|
|Solution||Avoid heavy foot traffic and using machinery when the soil is wet and use compost topdressing twice annually to aerate the soil||Plant grass seeds that are less thatch-prone like tall fescue and use compost instead of synthetic fertilizer|
What is aeration?
Sometimes the soil can get compacted which makes it hard for water to seep through into the soil which can cause stunted growth in your grass. By making small holes in your lawn while pulling thatch plugs out of the soil, you help to reduce soil compaction so your lawn breathes better and your grass will have easier access to water, air, and nutrients which will help the roots to grow deeper and more vigorous.
You might need to aerate your lawn if there’s a lot of heavy foot traffic on your lawn, your lawn has pools of water, and if your lawn dries out quickly and has a spongy feel when you walk on it.
Benefits of aerating your lawn
- Allows the grass roots to expand to have a stronger turf
- Allows for deeper penetration of nutrients into the root zone
- Reduces soil compaction
- Reducing standing water or water runoff
- Improves the health of your lawn grass
- Thickens your lawn
Tips for aerating your lawn
- If you’re going to do the job yourself, make sure you do multiple passes to ensure you cover the entire lawn surface.
- Aerate is best done during the primary grass growing season. For warm-season grasses, it’s best done during late spring and early fall or spring for cold-season grasses.
- Aerate after watering or after it rains because the machine won’t be very effective in doing a good job.
- Aerate annually or bi-annually to keep your lawn healthy then apply fertilizer immediately for the best results.
- If your lawn has clay soil, you should aerate at least 2-3 times per year.
What is dethatching?
Thatch is the organic layer of dead grass, leaves, and roots that naturally build up between the soil surface and the grass blades. It benefits your lawn, but when it becomes too much it will create a barrier that will prevent air and water from reaching the soil. Dethatching helps to break up and remove the excess dead grass so your lawn can breathe better, make the grass look greener, and allow new grass seeds to reach the soil when overseeding.
Many factors can cause thatch on your lawn including infrequently mowing more than 1/3 of your lawn grass blade, using too much fungicide and herbicide that will kill the microbial activity on the soil, and watering your lawn frequently.
Benefits of dethatching
- Allows for easy penetration of nutrients, air, and water into the soil
- Expose your lawn to the sun
- Reduces standing water or water runoff
- Improves the quality of your lawn grass
- Promotes good root growth
Tips for dethatching your lawn
- You don’t need to dethatch often or annually, just when it’s necessary. If you can see the soil through the grass, you don’t need to dethatch.
- The best time to dethatch if you have to is at the end of winter.
- Use a rake to help you break through the thatch layer, but don’t be too aggressive so you don’t hurt your lawn grass.
- Thatch is a very good environment for insects, so if you notice insects while dethatching, use a broad-spectrum insecticide.
When it comes to lawn care, sometimes doing less is more so it’s not always necessary to aerate or dethatch. However, knowing when and when not to aerate or dethatch can prevent you from making some costly mistakes. While both lawn care methods seem to do the same thing, there’s a time for each.
How do I know if my lawn needs dethatching?
If your lawn feels spongy or bouncy when walking on it bare feet, it has a thick thatch layer that needs to be dethatched.
Can I mow after dethatching?
If you’re going to apply a pre-emergent herbicide, it’s best to do so after dethatching because the dethatcher will pull the soil and tear some of the grass at the roots instead of lifting and slicing the thatch.