Lawn dethatchers are key to maintaining a healthy lawn in modern-day Australia. Lawns are getting harder and harder to maintain as climate change merges together and intensifies our seasons, but keeping lawns green and healthy isn’t just a modern-day challenge.
For centuries, perfect lawns have been symbols of status, and gardening prowess, and today, our lawns are often the first impression of our homes. In this article we’re going to share our thoughts on lawn dethatching; how and when to dethatch, and the best lawn dethatchers in 2023.
Best Lawn Dethatchers Ratings Chart
1. WORX WG850 14 Inch Corded Electric Dethatcher
2. WOLF-Garten Multi-Star 35cm wide Scarifying Roller Rake
3. VonHaus 15" Corded Electric Lawn Dethatcher, Scarifier and Aerator
4. Greenworks Tools 40V Scarifier
5. LawnMaster GV1212B 13-Inch Scarifier and Dethatcher
6. Sun Joe AJ801E 13-Inch Electric Dethatcher and Scarifier
7. Draper 97922 Lawn Aerator & Scarifier
8. Einhell 2-in-1 Electric Scarifier And Lawn Aerator
9. Ryobi 2 x 18V ONE+ Brushless Scarifier
10. Thatching Rake with Ergonomic Handle
Lawn Dethatchers Buyers' Guide
What are Lawn Dethatchers?
Lawn dethatchers are essentially just sprung rakes, designed to pull old growth away from healthy stems on the under-layer of your lawn. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of lawn dethatchers, when to use them, and how to time dethatching most effectively.
What is Lawn Thatch?
Lawn thatch is a layer of dead grass formed as old grass dies back to be replaced by new grass leaves. While it is commonly thought that thatch is a build-up of moss and grass clippings, it is in fact the older stems that die back through summer, winter and autumn to be replaced by new leaves and grass stems in summer.
Thatch is a natural part of grass growth and it occurs on all plants. Similar plants include Peace Lilies, which die back at their base and replace old stems with new.
Larger grasses are easier to dethatch as it’s a simple process of running your hands through old growth in spring to pull it away and make room for new leaves.
Thatch in lawns becomes a problem when lawns are under-fertilised and lawns begin to brown off as thatch outnumbers fresh growth.
Types of Lawn Dethatchers
There are three main types of lawn dethatcher. Two are fairly gentle, with one only really advised for very, very, tough jobs:
- Lawn dethatcher rake
- Rotary dethatcher
- Lawn scarifier
Lawn Thatching Rakes
Lawn thatching rakes are the best dethatching tool for small lawns, with no emissions of energy output. They are a higher effort on the part of the gardener but will save you space, and money, in the process.
For small areas of moss, you can buy small hand rakes to dethatch problem patches that can form under the shade of large trees, or where drainage is a problem, without having to go over the whole lawn.
Lawn scarifiers are the most aggressive way to dethatch a lawn, but can be very effective at aerating your topsoil and vastly opening the space for new grass to grow.
Lawn scarifiers are not advised for regular use as they have a noticeable impact on your lawn and can create lines that look over cultivated, but if thatch and moss have become a significant problem, they are the only option.
Rotary dethatchers are sold as petrol, diesel, or electric machines, just like lawnmowers, and are less aggressive than scarifiers. For annual use, or bi-annual use rotary dethatcher are the best tool.
It can providing enough aeration for a healthy lawn, and effectively removing young moss and old thatch with minimal effort, and as little damage to your lawn as possible.
How to Use a Lawn Dethatcher and Lawn Scarifier
Irrigation, lawnmowers, and fertiliser are all key to keeping our lawns looking lush and healthy, but our Australian climate demands a little more care and attention than those typical tools.
Lawn dethatchers are key to that maintenance, but it’s crucial to know how and, more importantly, when, to use them:
Using a Dethatcher to Remove Thatch
Machine dethatchers are the most effective types of dethatcher, able to quickly work through large lawns much faster than thatching rakes or other hand tools, but any dethatcher uses the same basic method:
- Mow your lawn a day or two before dethatching to prevent tears to grass stems. Grass is quick to recover from damage, but a crisp cut will prevent yellowing after dethatching.
- Remove dropped leaves from your lawn (not essential, but it helps with efficiency, and prevent clogging for machine dethatchers).
- Work across your lawn in one direction, working in strips the width of your rake of machine dethatcher.
- Work back in the opposite direction once you have removed the thatch in one direction.
- If you have a compost heap, regularly tip the contents of any bags into that to keep the load manageable. Any thatch and moss make excellent compost material.
- If you are left with significant bare patches of lawn, gently reseed the affected areas (one handful or grass seed is usually enough for around 4m2).
When to Dethatch
Lawns should always look their best in summer, and struggle to recover from significant maintenance in winter, so dethatching should always be done in spring or autumn when your grass has a chance to recover and settle after dethatching.
We prefer to do all our dethatching once every 2-3 years in spring. This gives lawns a good chance to recover, and as thatch is a natural part of lawn health, and helps to improve its durability, it shouldn’t be removed too often as your lawn will be more likely to suffer from heavy rainfall, or playing kids.
Using a Dethatcher to Remove Moss
While dethatchers are designed to remove thatched layers of dead grass from our lawns, they are also a brilliant tool against moss. You can buy effective moss killers, and even lawn fertiliser with moss killers included, but they are rarely safe for wildlife, meaning the most eco way to remove moss is either dethatching or scarification.
To remove moss from a lawn, use a scarifier rake, or motorised scarifier as you would to remove thatch. Simply work across your lawn in rows, regularly emptying the bag of debris and moss.
When to Dethatch Moss
Moss is best removed in spring before it starts to grow more vigorously. Even perfect lawns will host some moss, and you’ll be surprised at how different your turf could look after dethatching moss, so it’s important to dethatch moss in spring when grass has just started to grow again after winter.
This gives your lawn the best chance of recovery and should leave you with a pristine lawn in summer (though it’s advised to reseed your lawn sparsely after dethatching to help recovery of any brown patches).
Lawn Scarifier and Dethatchers Safety Guide
Like lawn mowers, lawn dethatchers rely on spinning blades and tines to care for our grass. Those tines can cause serious injury if misused but it just takes a common-sense approach to safety for these machines.
- Never carry out any maintenance with the power source connected, or ticking over
- Always keep wires behind your when using corded dethatchers
- Remove obstacles and stones before you being to prevent damage to the machine
Lawn Dethatcher Product Reviews
1. WORX WG850 14 Inch Corded Electric Dethatcher
The Worx dethatcher is built for purpose. Most lawn dethatchers are built with interchangeable rakes so they can double up as dethatchers, but the Worx dethatcher is designed for a single purpose, and it’s brilliant at it.
It has three simple working depths that are incredibly easy to set, and help make the mechanics easy to maintain, compared to similar models with 5 levels (to be clear, you will never need more than 2, so 5 adjustable levels of a dethatcher is overkill).
Worx do tend to make really incredible lawn care tools, so it’s no surprise really that this is one of the best lawn dethatchers.
2. WOLF-Garten Multi-Star Lawn Scarifier Roller Rake
The halfway house between a dethatcher machine and a garden rake is the rolling dethatcher. WOLF-Garten’s rolling dethatcher tool stops you from damaging the soil surface and ripping grass from its roots, but gets deep enough, with efficient tines that it easily removes thatch quickly.
Obviously, there’s no catcher bag with this tool so it’s best for small lawns, but if you’re prepared to put the work in going back and forth from the compost pile, then this is a great rake, and much more efficient than a standard lawn rake.
3. VonHaus 15" Corded Electric Lawn Scarifier, Dethatcher, and Aerator
VonHaus’ corded lawn dethatcher is an incredibly efficient way to rid your law of excessive thatch. This lawn dethatcher is a versatile tool, with dual functions, and interchangeable blades so it can be used as a standard lawn dethatcher for regular work, and as a scarifier for heavy-duty moss removal, or preparing wildflower areas.
The 45L bag provides ample space for thatch, making it easier to keep on top of the raked materials without having to gather it all up behind you.
The VonHaus lawn dethatcher is foldable too, so it’s easy to store, and lightweight which helps too. The downside of the weight is that it tends to bounce on uneven lawns so does require some pressure from the user.
4. Greenworks Tools 40V Lawn Scarifier
Greenworks are a great budget tool brand, but this two-in-one dethatcher and scarifier feels like a really well-built tool. There are always going to be some corners cut on cheaper tools.
On this, that seems to be space efficiency, with the tool being much bulkier than its working width, meaning that it’s hard to get to corners and lawn edges. (Which is a lawn edger is more built for.)
Overall though, this is a really brilliant lawn dethatcher that I’d be happy to use myself at home.
5. LawnMaster GV1212B Lawn Dethatcher and Scarifier
The LawnMaster is a great compact dethatcher for smaller lawns and one of the smallest models in our reviews here, making it ideal for storage.
It’s slightly more expensive than some comparable models, but it’s well built and easy to clean too if it gets clogged up, which is a great advantage.
The easily interchangeable scarifier and dethatcher rakes make heavy maintenance simple too, but for regular use, it’s definitely best to stick with the dethatcher rake attachment which is less likely to cause damage to your lawn.
6. Sun Joe AJ801E Electric Lawn Dethatcher and Scarifier
The corded electric scarifier from Sun Joe is really well built, incredibly easy to use, and convenient to store too. However, there are some issues with the tines on the dethatcher rake which mean that it can’t really get that deep into lawns with thick thatch.
I suspect that it was designed primarily as a scarifier, and has a dethatcher included for convenience, which is still useful, but I’d suggest that this is a dethatcher for gardeners who need to tackle a really badly thatched lawn, and then do annual maintenance with a light dethatcher.
For standard dethatching, you’d want a bigger bag and deeper tines.
7. Draper 97922 Lawn Scarifier & Aerator
For really badly thatched lawns that need a heavy-duty tool to remove thatch, the Draper scarifier is a great tool to get rid of masses of thatch from your lawns.
Sadly, it only comes with a scarifier blade, so is great for aerating, and removing thatch, but will tear up your lawn to a greater extent than a gentler dethatcher.
8. Einhell 2-in-1 Electric Scarifier And Lawn Aerator
The Einhell lawn scarifier and aerator comes with an additional dethatcher tool making it an incredibly budget-friendly lawn dethatcher, but perhaps not one designed with dethatching specifically in mind.
The Einhell scarifier is lightweight, hand-designed for aeration more than thatch collection, with a very small 28L bag that needs regularly emptying while you work.
For gardeners who are prepared to put a bit more work in this could save you a few hundred dollars, but it’s definitely designed as a scarifier, so is best for lawn aeration, with dethatching as a bonus, rather than the main feature.
9. Ryobi 2 x 18V ONE+ Brushless Scarifier
While the Ryobi scarifier is a dedicated scarifier, aimed at aerating lawns, it’s designed with dethatching in mind so is gentler than most scarifiers. The well-balanced design makes it incredibly easy to use, and unlike most battery-operated products you can buy this scarifier from Bunnings with batteries included.
Of all the scarifiers and dethatchers we’ve reviewed, this has surprised us the most with its results, producing incredibly healthy lawns for a pretty good price.
10. Lawn Thatching Rake with Ergonomic Handle
Before we finish, I thought it might be good to throw in a curveball. If you’re managing a really small lawn, or just want to improve the health of a small area of thatch that’s in the constant shade of a tree, then these small hand tools can actually be more effective than rotary dethatchers.
They are gentle to lawns and produce great results. However, it takes time, effort, and a lot of patience to get the result you want if you’re covering large areas with these tools.
But for many gardeners, gardening is about taking time, and enjoying every tiny detail of your garden, so why not spend the time up close and personal with your lawn too?
Lawn Dethatcher and Scarifier Top Picks for 2023
Top Rated Lawn Dethatcher
Of all the lawn dethatchers we’ve seen, the WORX WG850 Corded Electric Dethatcher is the most efficient, and most effective in all user reviews, with excellent results. Its durable chassis holds up to rocking over bumpy ground, is easy to clean and makes maintenance really simple.
Most importantly, the Worx lawn dethatcher tool makes light work of any amount of thatch, reducing the need for scarification and deep and damaging work that other scarifiers require.
I’m really confident when I say that the Worx model is the best lawn dethatcher you can buy in 2023 for domestic lawns.
Best Value Lawn Dethatcher
While convenience is a big concern for most lawn keepers, sometimes the savings you can make by accepting a little bit of extra work are worth it.
If you’re not attracted by the quality of the WOLF-Garten lawn scarifier rake, surely you’ll be attracted by the fact it’s less than 10% of the price of our premium models.
Ok, so you need to do ALL the work yourself and you need to rake up behind yourself to get rid of the thatch you ring up, but for fast, effective, and lush results, there is no better tool for dethatching than a hand tool.
Lawns are more delicate than we think, so for the best results that are kindest to lawns, it’s always worth considering hand tools rather than machine dethatchers.
Premium Choice Lawn Scarifier / Dethatcher
VonHaus always make great tools, so it’s no surprise that their dethatcher and scarifier tries to do everything at once, but as one of the most expensive models on review here, the VonHaus Corded Electric Lawn Dethatcher, Scarifier and definitely a premium lawn scarifier for people with really thick thatch to deal with.
The scarifier attachment is great for overdue lawns, with a convenient dethatcher attachment for regular maintenance.
Lawn Scarifier and Dethatcher FAQs
Is dethatching good for your lawn?
Dethatching is extremely beneficial for lawn health as it helps aerate the soil, and provides space for fresh new growth. However, like anything in gardening, knowing how and when to do it is essential.
Dethatching lawns in spring, every 2 to 3 years is enough to create a lush green lawn. Too often, or in winter, and your lawn will suffer.
For more information on aerating your lawn, see our product reviews and buying guide for the best lawn aerators available in 2023.
How do you know when a lawn needs dethatching?
Lawn thatch builds up a spongy layer beneath healthy grass leaves. Lawns that are spongy underfoot and retain water long after it has rained are usually hiding a thick layer of thatch underneath. This is always a good sign that you need to dethatch.
Does all grasses need dethatching?
Creeping fescue, perennial ryegrass, and bluegrass need less dethatching than most and are typically sold as low maintenance, high durability, grass seeds (you’ll see all three in most common grass seed mixes).
But even these grasses need dethatching every few years to prevent moss buildup.
Maintain Your Lawn with Ease Using the Best Lawn Dethatcher
Choosing the best lawn scarifier or dethatcher for you depends on your lawn. Large lawns need large tools, but small lawns can be managed with cheaper hand tools provided you’re willing to put in the effort. But as I think we’ve shown in the article above, all lawns do need some intensive care once in a while to improve their health.