Should I Aerate or Dethatch My Lawn? (Important Facts)

Most homeowners aren’t satisfied with the result they got from mowing, watering, and fertilizing their lawns. 

That’s why they want to know if aeration or dethatching will improve their lawn.

However, for you to improve the condition of your lawn, you should aerate or dethatch your lawn.

Aerating and dethatching are two different ways to improve the health conditions of your lawn.

Therefore, it’s most beneficial to aerate first before dethatching your lawn.

It’s important you aerate and dethatch your lawn because it will help their roots to penetrate the soil and increase flow of air, absorb water and nutrients in their core for better root growth. 

Aerating and dethatching are part of maintenance that’ll make your lawn remain healthy and greenish.

How healthy and greenish your lawn looks, depends on how you take care of it.

In this article, you’ll learn the importance of aerating or dethatching of your lawn and the easiest way to do it.

What is Aeration? 

Aeration is a process of using an aerator to dig small holes in the lawn while pulling out plugs of soil and turf. 

This process is done to improve the drainage, which makes water and fertilizer penetrate to their roots. 

Aeration helps to lose the soil compaction. It creates room for air to better penetrate the soil to improve the lawn. Thus, increasing the rate at which roots absorb water, air, and nutrients.



This process will make the lawn thicker, healthier, and greenish.

After aeration, don’t rush to remove turf. But rather, allow the plug turf on the lawn to decompose because it will eventually serve as manure to the lawn as well.

Aerating is done as a result of compressed, densed, and compacted soil, which prevents water and air from seeping into their roots — thereby delaying the growth of lawns.

The fastest way to get this done is by a machine called Aerator. It has to be sharp.

It should go deep to cut the soil, which will increase the penetration of water, air, and nutrients.

Another reason for using an Aerator is that it plugs the soil in such a way that relieves soil compaction. 

Though, there are various ways to aerate your lawns. But the most advisable way is to use an Aerator.

Methods of Aeration

There are various ways to aerate your lawns. These allow the accurate penetration of water into the soil. The methods of aeration are:

  • Tin/spike aeration
  • Core/plug aeration 

1). Spike aeration

Spike aeration involves using a roller with solid spikes to create holes in the soil. The holes are so tiny that it can easily cover.

That’s why many people don’t like spike aeration — because it might further compact the soil.    

2). Core aeration

Core aeration goes deeper to remove the plugs of the soil from the lawn.

This method of aeration creates drainage that improves the growth of the lawn. 

Core aeration makes holes that allow the root of the lawns to receive the exact amount of water, air, and nutrients.

These are the reasons most people prefer core aeration.

For better improvement of your lawn, you can carry out core aeration. It’s more effective!

When And How Often Should You Aerate Your Lawn?

Aeration of lawn doesn’t have a specific number of times it can be done in a year. Neither does it have a specific date.

There are only two factors that determine when and how often you can aerate your lawns: 

  • The nature of the soil 
  • The period.

You can aerate lawns once in a year if the nature of the soil is sandy soil. The aeration will only take place during the springtime. 

For clay soil, you can aerate your lawn 2 – 4 times in a year. This number of times will enable the lawns to receive proper water, air, and nutrients to aid their growth. 

You can also aerate your lawns during rainfall if there is no tender grass. Because aerating during spring might damage the tender grass roots.

Aerating during the spring will create enough time for the thatch to decompose overtime. 

Especially when the spring is almost coming to an end. This process is mainly done to give the lawns more nutrients.

Another method of aeration is before the temperature reaches 55 degree celsius during the spring period. During this period you will be able to pull enough weed in your lawns. 

If you’re in the north, you can aerate your lawns during the early fall, while in the south you can aerate during the mid-spring to the early summer.

Is Lawn aeration difficult? 

Lawn aeration isn’t as difficult as people think. The size of your yard is mainly what determines how long it will take to get the whole job done.

However, there are basic tools and elements you require to get the work done easily and faster:

  • Handworking gloves
  • Core aerator
  • Fertilizer
  • Compost
  • Grass seed
  • Watering hose/sprinkler system
  • Empty tin can
  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Marker flags

After you have your toolkit ready, it’s time to prepare your lawns.

Part of the preparation is to water your grass thoroughly at least 2 – 3 days before you finally aerate. 

Use a watering system or sprinkler system to do the watering.

One of the ways to measure if your lawns is thoroughly watered, is to place an empty tin can on the lawn before you water. 

Once the empty tin can fills up during the watering, then know that the lawn has received enough water.

Take marker flags to indicate sprinkler heads or any other hidden objects.

After this process, get the core aerator to begin the work. Run the core aerator once over the lawns to get the exact result.

When you’re done aerating, leave the soil cores on the lawn to naturally decompose.

Another way is that you can either rake the soil cores and empty them in the compost bin.

Then fertilize your lawn after aeration. Go ahead to spread fertilizer on your lawn after aeration.

After fertilization, water lawn the following day to aid the fertilizer into their roots.

You can plant grass seed before fertilizing the area that is necessary.

Don’t fertilize and plant seed grass on the same day. Let both exercises be done on different days.

What is Dethatching?


Dethatching is the process of removing excess thatch or dead grass from lawns.

What you’re actually going to dethatch is the layer of both living and dead grass shoots, roots and stems that form between the outer part of the soil and the base of the green grass. 

Most people are concerned about whether they should remove thatch from their lawns. Because of the benefits of thatch to lawn.

Inasmuch as they’re beneficial to the lawns, they’re also bad when they become too much.

Too much of thatch creates a barrier between the atmosphere and the grass. It prevents the lawn from getting the exact nutrients for growth.

Once the thatch is above 0.5-inch, it prevents the lawn from receiving food, especially the liquid fertilizers, and air.

When the thatch (i.e., dead grass) is more than 0.5-inch, then you need to dethatch the environment by either overseeding or even aerating your lawn.

Essence of dethatching lawns

Here are the essence of dethatching your lawns: 

  • It allows fertilizer to go straight to the soil
  • It enables the new seed to get in contact with the soil when overseeding the lawn field
  • It allows better transfer of oxygen in-between the lawns.
  • It also increases the health condition of the lawn by becoming more greenish. 

One of the important parts of dethatching is to clean up the debris after aerating and leave the thatch plugs on your lawn.

When is The Right Time to Dethatch?

When the layer of thatch in your lawn is 0.05 inch, then dethatching is not needed. Because certain amounts of thatch are important to your lawn. 

The presence of thatch or dead grass does help to keep the grassroots warm during winter and a bit cool in the summer. It helps prevent weed from germinating.

However, dethatching isn’t required until the layers of the thatch are more than 1cm inch thick. 

Thatch that is thicker than this will definitely prevent air, water, and fertilizer from reaching the roots. Sometimes, thatch harbors diseases and pests.

It’s also important because when the thatch is thicker than 1cm, they prevent water from penetrating through soil.

Thicker thatch hinders lawns from receiving enough water — which is needed for proper growth. 

You can as well use your finger to measure the thickness of the grass. Ensure you put on hand gloves when you’re using your finger. 

Once your finger finds it difficult to reach the soil, it means you need to dethatch it.

Should I Dethatch My Lawn When It’s Wet?

The ideal time to actually dethatch your lawn is immediately after light rain or when the soil is moist. Don’t dethatch when the soil is practically wet.

Ensure you mow your lawn before you dethatch. Don’t dethatch when the soil is dry or in drought conditions.

You may not get the desired result when you dethatch during a wet or dry period. The best time to carry out a dethatch in your lawn is when the soil is a bit moist.

What Period of The Year Do You Need to Dethatch?

Dethatching of lawn varies because of the difference in the weather conditions, the conditions of the soil, and the types of grass are what determine when to dethatch. 

Personally, I prefer to dethatch my lawns during the springtime.

Because I normally carry out dethatching on my lawns before application of any treatment like fertilizer, lime, watering, and overseeding.

If you overseed or fertilize before dethatching, you will end up removing everything. Because this involves removing excess soil.

Should I Apply Fertilize On My Lawn After Dethatch?

The best time to really apply fertilizer on your lawn is immediately after you dethatch.

Though, one of the best recommended fertilizer is the liquid one.

Don’t apply the nitrogen to the grass until they are grown, and green up first.

Applying Nitrogen when your lawn is dominant, will only encourage the weeds to develop and possibly choke the grass.

Ensure the liquid fertilizer contains Phosphorus and Potassium without Nitrogen at all. Why? It’s because Nitrogen will compound your lawn problem.

What is the Best Way to Dethatch My Lawn?

To dethatch your lawn, you can either do it by yourself or you contact an expert.

If you want to dethatch your lawn by yourself, just get a rake and a dethatcher (i.e., a machine similar to a lawn mower) to get the work done.

Get a work-glove to wear on your hands.

Use the dethatcher to get the environment ready and use the rake to gather the thatch. After the gathering, pick up the thatch to put them in the garbage bag.

Difference Between Aerating And Dethatching

Some people tend to confuse aerating with dethatching. Invariably, they’re not the same at all, nor do they perform the same function on the lawn.

Aeration is a process of ensuring proper circulation of air, water and nutrients in the soil.

It involves using an Aerator to create holes on the earth with spikes, by removing at least 1” by 2” cores of the soil.

Aeration is very important because it helps to improve drainage and reduce soil compactness or density. 

Aeration is the first step to take when preparing the ground for grass seeding. You can either aerate with a machine or manually.

While dethatching is a process of removing over dense thatch from the lawn, which includes the living and dead stems, roots, and weed.

Dethatching allows the lawn to absorb enough water, air, and nutrients that will make the lawn grow thicker and healthy. 

Is There Any Difference between Power Raking and Dethatching?

Yes, there is. There is a great difference between power raking and dethatching. Power raking removes more thatch at a go than dethatching. 

power raking

Power raking uses a machine to dig out much thatch than the dethatching process. Power raking is more aggressive than the latter.

However, dethatching is a smaller version of power raking. It removes a small thatch compared to power raking.


Aerating and dethatching are two different activities to be done in your lawn to improve its health conditions.

They’re done in different circumstances. Aerating is to increase the breathability of the lawn while dethatching is to increase the rate of water or air penetration. 

It also helps the lawn to absorb more nutrients, and improves the overall health of your lawn.

Read Also
Should I Aerate or Dethatch My Lawn? (Important Facts)


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