Thatch in the lawn is a matted, tangled combination of dead vegetation, like grass, roots, fallen leaves and weeds. Resting just above the soil, a 1/2-inch layer of thatch can be beneficial, blocking weed development. As thatch becomes thicker, it can prevent fertilizer from reaching the roots and can block air flow, which could lead to fungus infection. A thatch rake can be used to remove a thatch layer. The thatch rake, which is available at garden and hardware stores, is specially designed to pull thatch up through the blades of grass.
Remove the thatch on a dry day. Wait a day or two after watering or rainfall. Dry thatch is easier to rake than wet thatch.
Mow the lawn, cutting the grass to less than 2 inches tall. The shorter grass will provide less resistance when using the thatching rake.
Place the thatching side of the rake on the ground. A thatch rake has two heads. The tines (teeth) of the thatching side are pointed and straight, while the tines of the cultivating side are blunt and wavy. The repetitive motion of raking may cause blisters, so wear gloves.
Pull the rake toward you. The forward pull combined with the weight of thatching rake will pull the thatch up. Push the rake backward and the thatch is released from the rake head. Move a step to the side and repeat the pull and push motion, slightly overlapping the previously cleaned strip. Continue this pull and push motion, which is much like vacuuming a floor, across the lawn. Piles of released thatch will remain on the lawn.
Use a leaf rake to clean up the released thatch, which can be added to compost.