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How to Dethatch a Centipede Lawn

By G.K. Bayne ; Updated September 21, 2017
Removing thatch will improve a lawn's health.
grass,lawn image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com

Centipede grass is a low-maintenance, warm-season perennial plant. According to North Carolina State University, the centipede species of grass will only require de-thatching once there is a ½ inch layer of material on the soil surface. Annual thatch removal will cause damage to the grass. The optimum time for thatching is late May through July, when the grass is just beginning the growth cycle for the roots system and minimal damage will occur.

Cut a small triangular section from the centipede grass lawn using either the knife or a shovel. Pull the small section of grass from the lawn.

Inspect the depth of thatch that is laying on the top of the soil, just below the blades of grass. If the thatch level is a ½ inch or greater, the centipede grass needs to be raked to remove the dead material. Replace the cut section of turf.

Rake the centipede lawn vigorously with the hand leaf rake. Remove all the dead matter on the surface of the soil. Collect the material into a compost pile. The thatch, when fully decomposed, can be layered onto the lawn in late fall to early winter as an organic dressing.

Use a power rake in place of hand raking. Space the vertical blades 3 inches on center. Set the depth of the vertical blades to no more than a ½ inch deep. Run the power rake in one direction across the lawn.

Collect the thatch into piles using the hand rake. Move the piles of thatch onto a nearby compost pile.


Things You Will Need

  • Knife (optional)
  • Shovel (optional)
  • Hand leaf rake
  • Power rake (optional)


  • Keep the centipede grass lawn mowed to a depth between 1 ½ to 2 inches high. Mowing the grass to a shorter depth will cause a winterkill to the centipede grass roots.


  • Exercise caution if applying any herbicide to the centipede grass. The warm-season species is especially susceptible to herbicides. Follow all label directions in application and use of the chemical.
  • Keep children and pets from any area treated with a chemical.