Time For Gardening: This Is How To Rake Dead Grass

Have you noticed small patches of brown grass or overgrown thatch on your lawn and want to know how to rake dead grass? Then you should know that these are not only bad for the looks of your garden but can also present several issues for your lawn. The good news is that you can take care of them easily when you follow the proper steps and instructions to rake them.

A dead brown spot in a green grass lawn

Many people shovel, mow, rake, and brush dead turf to get rid of it, but are these methods really effective or are they doing more harm than good? Removing the dead vegetation can make it easier to determine the extent of the damage! But you should keep in mind that just raking the dead turf may not stimulate new growth. In this post, we will show you when is the right time to rake your lawn, how to do it effectively and the right way to make it lush and green again!

Why should I rake my lawn?

Do you have a brown instead of green lawn? Getting rid of that brown grass can make your lawn look and feel a lot better. The good news is that it is pretty simple to manage your lawn’s thatch once you know how to do it. You should rake dead turf for many reasons, all of which make it look nicer and last much longer. Here’s why you should remove dead turf in your existing lawn:

  1. Removing your dead turf lets the soil breathe, providing oxygen. New seeds will grow into healthy roots and grass blades. Oxygen is vital for grass to survive and thrive. 
  2. Thatch prevents sunlight from penetrating the soil. If your garden’s soil is shaded, it can get too dark and wet, promoting mould, mildew, and bacterial growth. The grass will face severe conditions, making it impossible to grow another layer.
  3. Water collects on the soil and blades of the grass. Removing all dead grass blades lets water soak through. If you don’t, your whole lawn will be dry and brown before you know it.
  4. When you remove dead turf, fertiliser and other nutrients, like mulch from mowed grass clippings, reach the roots and soil. Keep in mind that leaving a bit of mulch is a great way to promote healthy turf, but brown grass doesn’t do much.

When to rake my turf?

Raking and scarifying your lawn at the right time can promote healthy grass plants. Early fall and early spring or late spring are the best times to do so, but you should always time your programme according to the lawn’s ability to recover. This means sun, warmth and rain whilst avoiding heat, cold, or drought. In other words, you need good grass growing conditions, and if your lawn isn’t growing well before scarifying it, it also won’t grow well afterwards.

Spring: Light scarifying

Light dethatching, moss removal or clawing can be done in spring and autumn. The best time in spring generally means sometime in April. This is when things warm up, thereby increasing the growth rate, but before the heat of summer slows things down. Autumn would generally be around September as the rains start but before the cold comes in.

Autumn: Heavy scarifying

You should better stick to the autumn period for heavy thatch or moss infestations. Why? Heavy clawing or raking is going to seriously thin your lawn, leaving soil exposed in many places. This will make an ideal seedbed for overseeding with improved turf seed and all the weed seeds floating around. 

Cleaning up the grass with a rake

How often should I dethatch the lawn?

Professional gardeners suggest dethatching your lawn once per year to give it enough time to recover. Of course, many lawns vary, meaning you may need to do it more or less than annually. It’s pretty common to have to dethatch after spring or summer, especially if you have a lot of sunshine and grass in your yard.

Annual dethatching to keep your grass healthy

We’ve already mentioned the countless benefits of dethatching your lawn and removing dead turf. You need to feed and clean your grass and soil, just like other plants. If you live in an environment with excessive heat or dryness, you should water the grass more often and dethatch it more frequently. Dryness is an enemy of lawns since it dehydrates the soil and roots, making it nearly impossible for the plants to get what they need.

How to DIY rake dead grass

Are you ready to reap the previously mentioned benefits to make your lawn look amazing? The first time can be tedious, but don’t worry; you’ll get the hang of it. Everything will get easier once you’ve removed the first layer of thatch. To clean dead turf, follow the steps below:

  1. Get your lawnmower and mow your grass to the desired length. For the best results, cut it down to 6cm. This length allows the soil and grassroots to breathe while keeping it looking neat. 
  2. Use a scarifier, leaf rake or even better, a thatching rake to pull dead turf and roots to the soil surface. Make sure you don’t press or pull the thatching rake too hard since it can damage new grass seeds.
  3. Consider a lawn dethatcher. Most models come with steel tines to remove thatch buildup, a handle with ergonomic grips, and a depth knob. You can also choose power rake models with batteries or an extension cord.
  4. Water the entire lawn from edge to edge. That way, you can rid of excess debris while hydrating all healthy grassroots. You may also take this time to add fertiliser.

man Dethatching the Lawn with an Electric Dethatcher

Stimulating new growth

Once you’re done removing the dead turf, you’re good to go. Following the simple process mentioned above, you can ensure the only remaining grass is living. But remember, when you are raking for new vegetation removing dead turf doesn’t mean it will stimulate growth. If the grass is dead all the way to its roots, the bare patch will remain. You will have to prepare the area for reseeding or lay new sod to fill the bare spots.

Overseeding or new sod

Are you planning to overseed your lawn? After you’ve prepared the soil by removing weeds and damaged grass, remove vegetation and turn the soil over to a depth of 15 cm. Then, mix in some compost, scarify and smooth the ground with a rake and tamp it slightly. Next, scatter grass seed over your area using a spreader and rake lightly to cover it with a thin soil layer. Finally, water the new seeds immediately, soaking them to a depth of about 15 cm for the first couple of days. You should water one to two times daily for about two weeks and then cut back watering as new vegetation occurs.

Lawn aeration

Aerating your lawn also brings oxygen to the soil. Doing that every 2 to 3 years can yield significant results. You should use a lawn aerator or aerating shoes, especially for cool-season grasses, like perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, and fescue. You may also consider nitrogen or iron-rich fertilisers to reinforce growth before warmer summer temperatures and the growing season. One thing is for sure; annual dethatching, bi-annual aeration and weekly mowing is the best lawn care routine for your grass!

man wearing spiked lawn revitalising aerating shoes
Discovering dead turf patches in your lawn is not only unpleasant to the eye but also alarming. It could indicate several things, like disease, drought stress, or nitrogen burn. The good news is that removing dead turf makes your lawn look better and promotes long-term grass. It is also easy for everyone to do it themselves when following the proper instructions. All you need to do is follow our guide to know when and how to dethatch your lawn and the best way to stimulate new growth. Keep your lawn healthy and great looking all year long, starting from today. Good luck!

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