These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (2024)

These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (1)

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Decayed grass blades and stems—known as thatch—can prevent your lawn from absorbing the water and oxygen it needs to grow. Thatch creates a dense layer of organic matter that accumulates faster than the soil breaks it down, slowly growing into a thick layer of cover that prevents water and nutrients from enriching the ground. Dethatchers are specifically designed to remove any excess debris that’s more than 1/4-inch tall, removing that layer and preventing more from forming. It's an essential landscaping tool for any homeowner who plans to take proper care of their lawn on their own.

A good lawn dethatcher, regardless of size or type, effectively breaks up thatch accumulation without damaging the live grass on the lawn. Some automatic options also remove the material from your yard, while others require you to rake up and remove the thatch manually. If thatch has affected your lawn health before, our expert-reviewed recommendations can help you find the best lawn dethatcher for your yard and give you healthier grass this season.

The Best Lawn Dethatchers

What to Consider in a Dethatcher

How Do I Know if I Need to Dethatch My Lawn?

While visible thatch may set off alarm bells in your head, clearing isn't always the right first step. Even if your lawn is running into health or growth issues, dethatching isn’t always the answer.

“It’s possible that your lawn needs other measures," according to Senior Home Editor Roy Berendsohn. "For example, a better fertilizer regimen, core aeration, a different type and improved variation of seed, better mowing (sharper blade, correct cutting height), and better control of lawn pests via fungicides or insecticides.”

Thatch accumulation rates vary by the type of grass on your lawn. Dense varieties like Kentucky bluegrass and creeping red fescue are more likely to generate excess thatch than Perennial ryegrass or tall fescue. If your lawn is planted with ryegrass or other, similar varieties, thatch accumulation is likely not the source of any yard problems.

Once you’ve determined that you have a dense grass type and you’ve eliminated other lawn care concerns, it’s time to turn an eye toward thatch thickness. Guidelines for thatch removal may vary, but it's safe to say that if the thatch layer is over an inch thick, you should clear it.

You probably won't need to dethatch your lawn more than once a year, so buying a dethatcher is a long-term investment. Luckily, most of our selections are durable, affordable and work great for small or mid-size lawns. That said, you can always rent one from a home improvement store each time you need one.

Types of Dethatchers

Tow-Behind Dethatchers

The most common types of dethatchers are tow-behind, push mowers (electric or gas), and manual rakes. Tow-behind dethatchers latch on to tractors or riding lawn mowers and use metal tines to pull up thatch as you drive forward. They're great for large yards where walking the property yourself would take hours of your day. That said, the wide design makes them less precise. You can’t dethatch corners and tight areas of your yard with a tow-behind option.

Tow-behind dethatchers also lack the power of a push mower. For yards with significant thatch buildup, we recommend weighing down your tow-behind dethatcher to drive the metal tines deeper into your lawn. It's also helpful to add weight if the dethatcher itself is especially light.

Push Mower Dethachers

Push mower dethatchers, like our best overall recommendation, are the most practical option for a medium-sized yard. They typically have internal motors that spin a wheel of metal tines in the opposite direction that you push in. This disrupts and dislodges thatch effectively, even on a stubborn or entrenched lawn.

While they are incredibly effective at removing deep layers of thatch, the relatively thin width and manual, push-style means more physical labor than a t0w-behind dethatcher, making them less effective for large yards.

Manual Dethatchers

Rake-like manual dethatchers are an affordable and compact option for small yards. Instead of relying on the power of a tractor or internal motor, you'll simply drag the tines through your lawn by hand. It's hard work, but still a convenient option if you have a small space that won't take much time to dethatch.

Power Source

Push mower dethatchers are powered by gasoline, batteries, or electric corded power. Gas-powered dethatchers offer great performance—most engines run longer on a tank of gas than a battery, they’re stronger on average, and their efficiency doesn't meaningfully degrade over time. They are also usually much more expensive.

Corded electric dethatchers get continuous power so you won’t need to refuel or recharge. Simply plug your dethatcher in and get to work. The limitation for corded power is, of course, the cord itself. You can only bring the dethatcher as far as your cord allows, so you may need one an extension cord (or a few) to dethatch your entire space.

Batteries combine the portability and convenience of a gas motor without the fumes, finicky startup mechanisms, and noise. While you will likely need to recharge or replace the batteries at least once during a large yard dethatching, batteries are an easy, affordable way to power your device.

If you already own cordless power tools and yard machines, you can save a little extra cash by buying a dethatcher from the same brand. (Some models even have “tool-only” options so you don’t get stuck with costly extra batteries.) If you’re just starting to build your power tools kit, our best battery-powered pick from Greenworks is compatible with a range of other tools we recommend for various uses around the house.

Most battery-powered options lack the same power and strength of a gas motor, though, so they may not effectively break up incredibly dense or thick layers of thatch.

How We Selected The Best Lawn Dethatchers

To assemble this guide, we conducted research across multiple online resources including university turf management programs and home improvement guides. We also relied on the expertise of Senior Home Editor Roy Berendsohn who provided insight into what to look out for in a new dethatcher, and advice on when you should buy one. He also broke down what to look out for on your lawn before dethatching is necessary, and shared some general advice on grass management.

We made sure to include a mix of the types listed above, including two battery-powered models for those who don’t want to be tethered to an extension cord. We also included a range of price points, so regardless of your budget, you can find an option that works for you and your lawn.

1

Best Overall

Greenworks 14-Inch 10 Amp Corded Dethatcher

These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (2)

Pros
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (3)Stainless steel tines
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (4)14-inch width
Cons
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (5)Not convenient for large yards

With an easy-to-use push mower design and direct corded power, this Greenworks model balances convenience and power. The push-button start gets the motor moving without a warm up, and it's far easier to setup than the pull-cord design of a gas motor.

The corded power also means it never runs out of fuel or needs to recharge. This model is also relatively compact thanks to the collapsible handle that easily folds down. That handle also has a padded grip to help prevent blisters on long lawn-care days.

It has three different tine positions, so you can customize its height to remove the exact level of thatch you want for your yard.

Key Specs

StyleAutomatic, corded
Width14 in.
Weight26 lb

2

Best Budget

True Temper 15-Inch Thatch Rake

These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (6)

Pros
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (7)Curved blade for cultivating soil
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (8)Durable wooden handle
Cons
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (9)Physically taxing to use

If you’ve got a small yard and the elbow grease to take care of it yourself, this thatch rake from True Temper is the tool for you. Made with durable, steel tines, this rake rips up thatch with ease.

The rake’s utility expands beyond just dethatching as well. Flip the tines over and use the curved edge to rake dirt and cultivate soil. The sharp blades break up compacted dirt and create organized lines for planting fresh seeds.

Don’t worry about exerting too much force as you dethatch. The hardwood handle will stand up to several hundred pounds of force while the cushioned top keeps your hands comfortable and safe from splinters.

Key Specs

StyleRake
Width15 in.
Weight4 lb

3

Most Compact Automatic

Sun Joe AJ801E Electric Dethatcher and Scarifier

These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (10)

Pros
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (11)Collapsible handle
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (12)Unlimited runtime
Cons
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (13)Narrow cutting width

The convenient, 8-gallon catcher bag is what separates this Sun Joe unit from the rest. It collects thatch as it runs, cutting down on clean up time. Instead of raking up your yard after you finish dethatching, just empty out the bag.

The spring-loaded steel tines are designed to detach and remove thatch effectively, and can be quickly switched out with the scarifier attachment for cutting through roots to optimize future grass growth.

The Sun Joe AJ801E also features a safety switch that prevents the machine from starting by accident, and a five-position depth adjustment lever that lets you dial in the precise height you’re looking for.

Key Specs

StyleAutomatic, corded
Width15 in.
Weight27 lb

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4

Best Tow-Behind

Agri-Fab 45-0294 40-Inch Tine Dethatcher

These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (14)

These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (15)

Pros
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (16)Universal fit to most trailer hitches
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (17)Rustproof tines
Cons
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (18)Hard to reach corners

Those with large yards and a machine with towing capability—like a tractor or riding mower—will appreciate this pull-behind dethatcher. At 40 inches wide, it covers a very large swath of land with each pass, drastically cutting down on time.

Its heavy-duty steel deck is built to last and designed to support up to 70 pounds of weight, though it shouldn’t take that much to properly press it down for maximum efficiency.

The 20 tines are thick and durable, heat-treated, and rustproof for maximum longevity. A long cantilever handle with a rubber grip makes it easy to maneuver and raise and lower the tines when you’re ready to work.

Key Specs

StyleTow-behind
Width40 in.
Weight28.5 lb

5

Best for Large Yards

Brinly-Hardy DT-480BH-A 48-Inch Tow-Behind Dethatcher

These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (19)

Pros
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (20)Trusted manufacturer
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (21)Wheel located behind tray to reduce footprint
Cons
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (22)May be too heavy for some users

With two rows of 12 spring-loaded steel tines and a pair of 8-inch never-flat tires, this 48-inch dethatcher is designed for maximum productivity. It covers an extra-wide path that will make sure you cover your grounds as quickly as possible.

The durability of this tool is what really sets it apart, though. The entire frame is constructed of heavy-duty 14-gauge steel, and the tines are triple-coiled for extra strength. It’s also simple to assemble, thanks to a comprehensive assembly manual, as well as video links to Brinly’s YouTube channel.

The large size cuts down on dethatching time, but it also makes it cumbersome for storage. Make sure you have space in a shed, workshop, or garage before you opt for this one.

Key Specs

StyleTow-behind
Width48 in.
Weight37.5 lb

6

Best Premium

Greenworks 40V 14-Inch Dethatcher and Scarifier

These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (23)

Pros
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (24)USB charging capability
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (25)Includes storage bag
Cons
  • These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (26)Battery sold separately

With a powerful electric motor and built-in collection bag, this Greenworks dethatcher can tackle lawns effectively without a secondary round of clean-up.

It includes both dethatching and scarifying tine reels to open up your lawn further once the thatch is cleared away. The mower offers up to 45 minutes of continuous runtime when paired with the 40-volt battery from Greenworks.

The five depth-adjustment positions makes customizing the height to your yard easy, minimizing the chances of lawn damage or ineffective dethatching. Plus, USB ports allow you to charge your phone as you go (but that will use up some of the battery).

Key Specs

StyleBattery-powered
Width14 in.
Weight35.2 lb

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These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (28)

Tom Price

Associate Reviews Editor

Tom Price is an Associate Editor of Reviews for Popular Mechanics, and also contributes to Runner's World, and Bicycling. He has previously covered product reviews, startup news, and even professional wrestling. In his free time, he enjoys watching pretentious TV, low-brow movies, and exercising for beauty, not health. If you are interested in exploring more of his work, check out his website.

These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (29)

Alex Rennie

Alex Rennie is a freelance writer who specializes in the Home Improvement, DIY, and Tool space. As a former residential and commercial carpenter, Alex uses his hands-on experience to write practical buying guides, how-to articles, and product reviews. His work has also appeared in Business Insider's Insider Picks, and before his writing career, he was a full-time carpenter living in New York City. There, he worked as part of a team designing, building, and installing large furniture pieces, as well as performing a variety of home repair and maintenance projects. Alex currently lives in Los Angeles, CA, and spends his free time exploring the beaches and mountains with his fiancé and their dog Louie.

These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (30)

Expert consulted:Roy Berendsohn

Senior Home Editor

Roy Berendsohn has worked for more than 25 years at Popular Mechanics, where he has written on carpentry, masonry, painting, plumbing, electrical, woodworking, blacksmithing, welding, lawn care, chainsaw use, and outdoor power equipment. When he’s not working on his own house, he volunteers with Sovereign Grace Church doing home repair for families in rural, suburban and urban locations throughout central and southern New Jersey.

These Expert-Approved Lawn Dethatchers Make Your Lawn Healthier and More Lush in a Hurry (2024)
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