One of the most important jobs for anyone with a lawn is to dethatch it. A hand dethatcher can be an invaluable tool when it comes to working on your lawn. It allows you to get deep into the thatch layer and remove all the dead grass, which will allow new growth to come through without being choked off by any old straw or leaves that are in there. These products are available at many hardware stores and nurseries, but before you buy one make sure you know what features will work best for your needs!
In contrast to motorized dethatchers, a manual dethatcher does not have rotating blades, but rigid steel blades – therefore its design is remotely reminiscent of a conventional rake. Unlike the latter, however, it has two wheels between which the scarifying rake is suspended in a slightly eccentric pendulum motion. This has the effect that the blades penetrate the turf to different depths depending on the pressure exerted on the handle when pulling from above.
While the blades of a motorized dethatcher are usually rectangular in shape, a manual dethatcher has slightly hook-shaped curved blades that comb the lawn thatch out of the turf very effectively.
How does a manual dethatcher work?
A rake for dethatching lawn resembles a rake, which has two wheels and rigid, slightly hooked steel blades. You pull the device first in longitudinal, then in transverse paths over the lawn. While doing so, apply a little pressure to the handle from above so that the blades penetrate the turf and remove moss cushions and felt deposits. If you push the manual dethatcher back, the felt comes off the blades easily.
Manual dethatcher or motorized dethatcher?
Anyone who scarifies a larger lawn area every spring is definitely better off with a motorized device than with a manual dethatcher because the time and power savings are enormous. Nevertheless, the handheld unit also has its justification – for example, if you only need to remove individual small-area nests of moss from the lawn. Very uneven areas with roots, stones, or treads protruding from the lawn are also a case for the hand-held dethatcher because the blade shaft of a motorized dethatcher can easily be damaged if the permanently mounted blades encounter hard resistance.
For small lawns, a manual dethatcher is usually sufficient. In addition, it is significantly less expensive than a motorized device and there is no need for a cumbersome power cord. The selection of battery-powered dethatchers has been quite limited so far – for two reasons: First, the power consumption of the devices is quite high, which is why they need a large battery with sufficient capacity. Secondly, dethatchers are rarely used. Therefore, the purchase of such a device only makes sense as part of a battery system that still includes other devices such as lawnmowers or hedge trimmers.
How to use a hand dethatcher correctly?
The method of operation with a manual dethatcher is not fundamentally different from that with a power tool: In both cases, the lawn is combed through first in longitudinal and then in transverse paths so that a faint checkerboard pattern appears on the soil surface. Depending on how much pressure you apply to the handle when pulling the manual dethatcher, the blades will penetrate the turf more or less deeply. As a rule, you should work with little pressure at first and increase it slightly only where larger moss and felt deposits remain in the turf. Since turf is never completely level, but usually has more or less pronounced bumps and dents, it is necessary to move the hand dethatcher slightly in places and then pull it over the area again to capture all the moss cushions.
In contrast to the motorized dethatcher, the hook-shaped blades of the hand-held dethatcher become clogged quite quickly. In this case, you briefly place the hand dethatcher in a spot that you have already finished working on and push it back there. In this way, the felt is easily detached from the tines.
Re-seeding bare spots
If there is hardly any green left in some places after scarifying with the hand dethatcher, you should reseed fresh lawn there. Spread the lawn seeds evenly and then cover them thinly with humus, special lawn soil, or conventional potting soil. The organic material retains moisture and ensures that the delicate seeds do not dry out during germination. Tread down the humus layer with light pressure and finally water the reseeded areas with the watering can.