As your lawn gets older, you may notice that roots, grass particles and debris build up on the surface of the soil until it forms an almost-impenetrable barrier. This layer of surface buildup, known as thatch, prevents oxygen, moisture and nutrients from reaching the soil. Thatch becomes worse as grass roots grow up into it to reach the moisture and nutrients they can no longer get from the soil. The solution to a thatch problem is to dethatch the lawn.
Time your yard dethatching for either spring or early fall.
Rent a dethatching machine from a lawn and garden center. Select a machine that uses knives to cut the thatch. Machines with leaf rake tines and machines that attach to your lawn mower do not work as well, according to the University of Kentucky.
Read the dethatching machine's operator's manual to become familiar with safety warnings, machine parts and operation procedures. A dethatching machine operates similar to a push mower or rototiller.
Move the dethatching machine to a hard surface, such as a paved driveway, to change its settings.
Adjust the blades on the machine so that they are 1 inch from the paved surface.
Push the dethatching machine over your lawn in strips, moving the same direction with each pass. Push the dethatcher over your lawn a second and third time, changing the direction in which you push the dethatcher by 90 degrees each time.
Rake up the debris left by the dethatching machine and discard it.