Raking the grass after it is mowed is often part of the process of keeping a well-manicured lawn. However, to the surprise of many people, some of the best-kept lawns are not raked at all. While it is possible the lawn clippings are collected with a bagged mower, it is just as likely that the clippings are left behind after mowing. If you choose to still rake your lawn, choose a lawn rake that has tines closer together than a garden rake's. Plastic rakes will last longer and will not rust.
Limit your raking whenever possible. Lawn clippings will decompose quickly and add valuable nutrients to the soil, and in the end produce a lusher, greener lawn. If you do rake, collect the clippings for your compost pile or to use as mulch (unless the grass is diseased).
Rake when the grass is diseased or when the clippings clump together and cover large patches of dirt. Clumping usually happens when the grass is mowed more than an inch at a time or is mowed when it is wet. Rake lightly and form piles every 25 to 50 feet to reduce the amount of raking.
Remove thatch every one to years in the spring or fall. Thatch is a noticeable brown layer of dead grass and roots near the ground, and should not be removed with a regular rake. (You will harm the lawn.) Instead, rent a dethatcher and set the blades to 1/8 inch to ¼ inch above the ground. Push it in rows, just like a mower, across the grass. Repeat up to five times to effectively remove the thatch.