How to Rake a Lawn


Other than the annual early winter chore of raking fallen leaves from the lawn, most yards benefit from another type of raking as well. Thatch, the dense brown undergrowth which naturally occurs in healthy lawns, can accumulate thickly beneath otherwise green grass and lead to a dry and scalped appearance anytime the grass is mowed. Dethatching helps promote a thicker, greener lawn and can be accomplished using a hand-operated dethatching rake or with a machine designed for the task.

Rake and Dethatch the Lawn

Step 1

Select the appropriate rake. Dethatching rakes have longer, sharper metal tines than conventional yard rakes and are designed to reach down into the grass bed to loosen dead grass material.

Step 2

Pull the rake across sections of the lawn, gently but firmly, avoiding disturbing the soil beneath.

Step 3

Collect the brown thatch debris and discard, either by composting or disposing of it in municipal garbage bins.

Using a Mechanical Dethatcher

Step 1

Mow the entire lawn before using a dethatching mower, setting the blade an inch or so lower than at the regular lawn mowing height.

Step 2

Lightly water the entire lawn immediately prior to dethatching.

Step 3

Begin dethatching by running the specialized mower first in one direction across the lawn, then make a second pass in a direction perpendicular to the original cut.

Step 4

Rake up the remaining debris with a hand rake and dispose of the thatch.

Step 5

Fertilize and water after completing dethatching to encourage healthy new lawn growth.

Tips and Warnings

  • Thatch from lawns which have recently been treated with pesticides or herbicides should not be composted, as chemical residues may still be present after composting, which can harm ornamental plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Dethatching rake or mechanical dethatching mower


  • University of California: Dethatching methods
  • Oregon State University: Dethatch your lawn this spring
Keywords: dethatch raking lawn, how to dethatch, lawn dethatching rake

About this Author

Michelle Z. Donahue lives in Washington, D.C., and has worked there as a journalist since 2001, when she graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.A. in English. She first covered politics as a reporter for the weekly Fairfax Times newspaper, then for the daily newswire Canadian Economic Press, where she reported from the U.S. Treasury. Donahue is currently a freelance writer.