What does a power rake do? Power Rake Vs Dethatcher

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So, what does a power rake do?

You have probably heard about it but you’re still puzzled whether it’s worth it.

If that’s you, this article will clear the air about power raking and help you make an informed decision.

First, that burning question: what does a power rake do?

Simply put, a power rake removes thatch and is recommended if the thatch build up in your lawn is deeper than ½ an inch.

We all know that thatch can harm your lawn in various ways if it gets exceedingly thick.

For example, essentials like fertilizer, water, and air may be blocked from reaching the roots by the dead debris.

There are bucketloads of other potential problems including grass becoming infected with common turf diseases hence the need for  dethatching after winter.

At this point you’re probably thinking “But I can use my dethatcher, right?”

Well, as you’ll discover next, yes and no..

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Power Rake Vs Dethatcher: Which Way?

In summary, a dethatcher  isn’t as aggressive on thatch as a power rake making it best for lawns with only minor thatching issues.

Indeed, these machines typically penetrate thatch build up less than ½ inch deep.

In contrast, power raking is the best bet when you have  a lot of dead matter you want out.

The rake is extremely dynamic and it will bust much of the accumulated dead plant material to allow your lawn to once again grow lush green.

Because of the extra power, this type of raking can bruise grass and is usually recommended for lawns with incredible amount of thatching.


Those are the main pros and cons of power raking vis-à-vis regular dethatching and even verti-cutting (to an extent).

How to tell if your lawn is ‘ripe’ for Power Raking?

A lot of owners are unable to decide when to use a power rake, a tine rake, or even the standard dethatcher.

Now, I suggest that you first check how dense the annoying thatch is.

To do this, cut a couple of plugs approximately 2 -3 inches deep.

Go ahead and power rake if you notice a spongy, reddish-brown thatch layer between the soil and the green grass blades.

When should I power rake? 

If you’re sold, the best time to power rake your grass is during the growing season.

The following table will help you time the activity appropriately:

Grass type Best time to power rake
Zoysia grass Early summer
Bluegrass Early fall
Cool season grasses such as fescue, bentgrass, and perennial  ryegrass Early fall
Bermuda grass Late spring
Best time to power rake

Power rake or aerate first?

For most grass types, heavy thatching will prevent effective aeration and it could be wise to first power rake before poking holes into the earth.

Having said that, most experts recommend that you power rake during the growing season (as highlighted above) and aerate in fall.

Power raking tips

I already mentioned that power raking is best done when grass is growing to give it ample time to recover.

There are other desirable conditions including:

  • Dry soil- wet soil is easily pulled out making it more difficult for you to dethatch correctly. 
  • Moderate grass-  To avoid destroying the grass (and the future health of the lawn ), you should ideally launch the process when the grass is just moderately dry. In addition, the blades shouldn’t be too brittle.

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Other alternatives to power raking

Now that you have known what a power rake does, what other options do you have?

Here I want to speak about the long term solution.

You see,  thatch accumulation isn’t accidental- it’s the final outcome of continued practicing of improper cultural procedures in your lawn and other missteps.

And the only way you can permanently solve this is by correcting your errors.

We recommend the following: 

  • Properly water your lawn.
  • Timely application of lawn fertilizer and use of approved fertilizers.
  • Aeration- double aeration works particularly well.

All these stimulate natural breaking down of the thatch layer.

This is no doubt the best way to achieve the best-looking lawn.

What does a power rake do?: Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Here now are answers to the questions you might have in mind about this wonderful lawn maintenance accessory.

Can you power rake dirt?

Because of its tremendous abilities,  some users deploy a power rake in a wide range of tasks away from heavy-duty raking.u003cbru003eSome manufacturers have actually built power rake models strong enough to rake difficult dirt and just about anything!

Should I power rake before overseeding?

Well, in general, you should power rake before seeding your lawn.u003cbru003eThis will ensure that the new grass seeds sprout smoothly since you have gotten rid of a major obstacle in the form  of thatch.

How much is a power rake?

The renting cost depends on the region and it’s charged per 1,000 square feet tract.u003cbru003eFrom our survey, most power rake rental services ask for $10-$20 for the aforementioned square footage.

In summary, you seldom need to power rake your lawn- you might only need the service if you’re facing a bad thatch issue (the thatch layer reaches more than ½ inches deep).

Even then, you need to be extra cautious as doing it incorrectly may do more harm than good.

Luckily, most lawn care professionals are conversant with the tool and power rake expertly. 

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