De-thatching and core aeration are common procedures in our industry, but we often receive a lot of questions about de-thatching and aeration.

We emphasize the value of what we call curative practices, and that means tending to the root needs of the plants — literally, assuring that soil is nutrient-rich, and plenty of oxygen and water can reach plants’ roots. De-thatching and aeration are both services that improve the health of the lawn, but the purpose for each practice is entirely different.

This article will explain de-thatching and aeration and help you determine which service is appropriate for your property.

What Is De-thatching A Lawn?

Your lawn has three layers: the roots below the soil, the green grass above ground and, in the middle, a layer of thatch that is composed of leaves, stems, grass clippings, and roots. This thatch material is natural, and it’s healthy in moderation. But, a thick layer of thatch can prevent air, water and nutrients from reaching the grass’s roots.

De-thatching essentially combs out the layer of thatch so it can be removed from the lawn. A de-thatching machine with smooth round blades tears away the thatch layer and brings the organic matter to the surface so it can be hand-raked off the lawn.

Area after one pass with a de-thatching machine

Area after one pass with a de-thatching machine








When To De-thatch A Lawn

A lawn that needs de-thatching feels spongy and bouncy to the touch. (The excess thatch adds that extra cushion/spring.) Take a close look at the grass. Can you see a layer of growth between the green shoots and roots? If so, is the thatch loose enough to penetrate with your finger, or is it thick and tough, creating a barrier between the grass blades and soil?

A professional landscape company may remove a small wedge of the grass to measure thatch thickness. As a rule of thumb, we recommend de-thatching when the thatch is thicker than three-quarters of an inch.

De-thatching is site specific and performed only when needed. And because of the two-step process of de-thatching — and the manual requirement of physically raking the thatch off of the lawn — this service is more expensive than aerating. 

What Is Lawn Aeration Service?

Lawn aeration involves removing plugs of grass and soil so adequate air, water, nutrients can “seep” into the ground and reach plant roots. When you aerate your lawn, you're essentially punching holes in the ground so it can “air out.”

The process is completed using a machine called an aerator that perforates the lawn and pulls up plugs of turf. These cores are left on the lawn to decompose—they return beneficial nutrients to your property.

If you look at a turf plug pulled out of the ground during the aeration process, you’ll see the green grass blades, thatch layer, roots and soil.

Does Your Property Need Lawn Aeration Service?

Aeration can prevent a lawn from becoming compacted, and when this happens soil particles do not allow proper nutrients to reach plant roots. You’ll know your lawn needs to be aerated if the soil is compacted. (To test this, push a screwdriver into the ground. Can you do it easily, or is the surface too hard?)

We recommend that you aerate your lawn on an annual basis, in spring or fall.

Your landscape is a great asset to your property and we work hard to protect your investment. That means going above and beyond typical landscape maintenance and providing de-thatching and lawn aeration service that improve the health of your lawn.  Please contact us for a free quote for aeration or de-thatching.