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A dethatching rake breaks up and removes thatch manually. Thatch forms an unattractive and interfering layer of dry grass, tangled roots, and dead leaves between soil and fresh grass. The handheld dethatching rake, like an ordinary rake, helps to eliminate thatch and make a lawn ready to absorb fertilizer and water.
A homeowner can use a dethatching rake to make his lawn look greener and more robust. A dethatching rake resembles a sharp, two-sided rake with wide, sharp blades instead of tines. These gently curving blades are designed to cut apart intertwined roots and grass and yank the pieces to the surface. Once loosened, the dead material can be removed with a regular rake.
After thatch gets a chance to build up, water gets absorbed by this layer of plant waste, rather than sinking into soil. Fertilizer also has less of a chance to reach the roots of grass where it will make a real difference. Employing a dethatching rake can cut down on insect infestations, because they'll no longer have a damp, hidden place to live. It can also reduce the length and frequency of watering. On a cosmetic level, dethatching lets the grass spring up, looking fuller and healthier because the brown, dead vegetation underneath cannot be seen.
A homeowner can make a few passes across his yard with a dethatching rake just twice a year. He should wait until the growing seasons, when the lawn can withstand some hacking. The best time is in spring and fall. The lawn should be mown to a lower height than usual, about 1 inch (2.5 cm). Holding the tool like a hoe, he should bite down into the ground and pull up at a steeper angle. The user should see threads of dead roots and clumps of dead grass come to the surface.
Specialty dethatching rakes make the chore even easier. Some come as one tool that's part of a set. It screws onto an adaptable handle that might also attach a rake, broom, shovel, or other gardening instruments. Pendulum mounted varieties have springs and hinges that let the bladed head rotate so the user doesn't need to apply as much pressure or change his angle of raking.