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How Does a Power Rake Work?

By D.C. Winston ; Updated September 21, 2017

Basic Power Rake Function

Power rakes are pulled across the surface of a lawn to cut and lift portions of dead lawn thatch to the surface of the lawn. The blades are designed to reach down past the green grass blades into the thatch layer above the soil but not down into the roots. Power rakes are often called de-thatching rakes because this is their main purpose. The cut thatch pieces are then raked up and discarded. When a lawn has its excess thatch removed, water and applied nutrients reach the roots and soil more directly and keep the lawn green and healthy. A small amount of thatch is good but anything more than a 1/4- to 1/2 -inch should be thinned. There are two main types of power rakes those that are manual and require brute strength to pull the cutting blade through the lawn thatch and those that are motorized to do some of the strenuous work for you.

Manual Power Rake

The most cost effective power rakes are manual garden tools that resemble a traditional rake in basic form but in lieu of dull tines there are sharp cutting teeth that vary in format and size by brand. A manual power rake is pulled through the thatch toward the user with short almost chipping strokes. Often one or more passes are made over the lawn surface in right angles to one another to ensure even removal. This pulling both cuts and lifts the dead thatch material up to the surface where it can be collected.

Mechanical Power Rake

Mechanical power rakes can be attachments to a lawn mower or stand alone pieces of motorized equipment. The mechanized action removes some of the labor from the de-thatching process allowing the operator to walk behind the machine and guide it but not need to exert force to propel it. Motorized power rakes can be pushed or pulled across the lawn surface depending on their design. The blades either rotate or agitate cutting the thatch and lifting it free to the surface. Some machines also have the capacity to vacuum up the loss thatch while with others a flexible tine garden is used afterwards to clean up.