Dethatch vs. aerate, crystal clear answers to all anticipated questions

Dethatching and aeration are methods that are commonly confused with each other. People find them the same, or they are barely different but both completely different. Therefore, to know all the descriptions and facts about dethatching and aeration, we are going to put light on each aspect and answer all the anticipated questions about them. So, let’s start knowing about Dethatch Vs. Aerate.

Table of contents

What is aeration?

Aeration is the process of making approximately 3 inches holes or taking the plug of soil out of the lawn to make the grassroots get the air, water, and fertilization properly and directly.

Professionals do it when the lawn’s soil becomes compacted and does not let the air, water, and nutrients/fertilization seep into the soil.

Click here to know more about “What is lawn aeration and when is the best time to do it?

Benefits of lawn aeration

  • Lessens the lawn compaction

  • Minimizes the standing water and water run-off

  • It makes your lawn thick, healthy, and strong

  • Also, it helps to avoid thatch build-up

How can you do aeration?

You can do aeration manually or with a machine. The lawn aerating tools may have spikes or hollow tines depending on which type of aeration method you choose.

You need to aerate the lawn more than twice if you do spike aeration. On the other hand, aeration once a year if opting for plug aeration method.

Explore more about “lawn aerating tools ” also, “how to aerate a lawn” in easy words.

Now know about dethatching so that you get the idea of what we are talking about when discussing dethatch vs. aerate.

What is dethatch?

Thatch is the organic accumulation of dead and living shoots, stems, and roots. It accumulates and becomes thicker over time. It is a semi-solid, sponge-like layer between the grass and soil. When thatch layer becomes thicker, it acts as a barrier, holding water and nutrients in it and not letting it soak in soil. For that reason, the grass does not grow longer in soil, and eventually, the lawn becomes dull.

Dethatch is in the process of breaking and removing the thatch layer.

Benefits of dethatching

  • Dethatching allows the water, sunlight, oxygen, and nutrients to reach the soil

  • It makes your lawn healthy; roots grow deeply and vigorously

  • Also, it improves the quality of grass that will grow

  • Moreover, it reduces the standing water and water run-off, like aeration

How is the dethatching done?

You can dethatch your lawn with a dethatching rake, power rake, and verti-cutter. Dethatching rakes have short tines and curved blades and are heavy. You need to dig it in the ground and pull out the thatch. If your grass has thinner thatch and can bear heavier dethatching, then power rakes are best. If your lawn’s thatch layer is thicker or it needs renovation, then verti-cutters are best. It slices down through the thatch layer and pulls the thatch layer out of the surface.

Finally, when you have dethatched the lawn, you must collect the garden waste and remove it from the lawn. Then you can take the opportunity to so new grass seed, and top dress the lawn to finally level out the soil with a lawn leveling rake.

Dethatch vs. aerate

Both dethatching and aeration are done to make space in the soil to let the water, air, and nutrients seep into the soil properly. But the dethatching is pulling the thatch layer (the organic accumulated layer between grass and soil) out of the surface. In contrast, aeration loosens up the compacted soil. So, they solve different issues, but the results seem the same on the lawn.

Do you dethatch or aerate your lawn first?

You should aerate your lawn first because aeration will loosen the soil compaction and make the detaching process less energy-consuming and effective if you are doing it manually.

What does your lawn need? Dethatch vs. aerate?

If your soil has become compacted, we suggest you plug/core aerate your lawn. On the other hand, detaching affects the top layer of soil for removing the thatch layer and dead grass debris.

It means if your lawn is compacted, then dethatching alone won’t help.

Before overseeding what to do? Dethatch vs. aerate

Dethatching is most needed to process before you overseed your lawn. Dethatching will remove the debris that is covering the grass and allow the grass seed to penetrate in soil and germinate.

On the other hand, if the soil is compacted, then you must aerate the lawn first. If doing spike aeration, dethatch after it and clean the lawn before you overseed. While if you opt for plug or core aeration, then rake cleaning is enough before overseeding.

Does dethatching aerate the lawn too?

Om din jord inte är extremt packad och beroende på vilken typ av vertikalskärare du använder kommer gräsmattan att bli luftad på ytskiktet. Däremot luftar en gräsmatteluftare gräsmattan på djupet vilket är nödvändigt för att lufta hela gräsroten.

Does core aeration remove thatch too?

If you do core or plug aeration via machinal and in a proper way, it will remove the thatch too and produce far better results. However, according to Michigan State University post “Core aeration and dethatching of lawns“, if the lawn has the thickest thatch layer, then core aeration will not provide the quickest remedy.

When to do It? Dethatch vs. aerate

Whenever you dethatch or aerate your lawn, make sure to pick the time when the grass is actively growing so it can recover healthily.

For aeration, if you have cool-season grass, early spring or fall is the best time. On the other hand, if you have warm-season grass, late spring or early summer is best.

Same for dethatching but a little different. For cool-season grass, early spring or early fall time is super. For warm-season grass, the best time to detach is late spring to early summer.

Questions and answers

Common asked questions about detach vs. aerate the lawn.

We recommend mowing the grass briefly and preferably at the lowest cutting height before starting the treatment of the lawn. This makes the work much easier.

Let the grass recover especially if you have cut the lawn vertically. Wait to mow the lawn until the grass has grown a bit. When the grass has reached a height of 5 -6 centimeters, you can start mowing the lawn.

If you have completely renovated the lawn, you can wait until the grass has reached a height of 8 centimeters. The reason for this is that the new grass has hopefully had time to germinate and come up a bit.

After you have dethatched and aerated the lawn and collected the garden waste, you can overseed it with new grass seeds. Then you put on a layer of top dress to finally level the lawn with a levelawn.

Be sure to keep the lawn moist for four weeks after sowing.

More reading on aerating the lawn

Read our other articles if you want to know more about how to aerate a lawn and why it is good to do so.

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