The Difference Between Power Raking and Dethatching …and When to Use Them

Written by Ryan Such

Power raking and dethatching are two terms that cause an awful lot of confusion for good lawn-loving citizens who just want to take good care of their grass and get the excess thatch up and out of the way.

A lot of that confusion stems from the fact that the two services work on the same problem: removing thatch from your lawn. And, of course, dethatching sounds like a general term for that process, whereas power raking sounds like something very specific–and it is… in fact, both of the terms have a very specific meaning.

And yet….

Even some lawn care companies use the terms “power raking” and “dethatching” interchangeably in their operational structure.  So if a customer asks for either service, they end up with dethatching.

And while it’s true that dethatching is what most lawns actually need, it’s really frustrating to order power raking service, only to have your lawn dethatched simply because your lawn care company doesn’t recognize the difference.


How to Make Sure You Get the Service You Want

A couple of suggestions for making sure you and the company you have hired to dethatch or power rake your lawn are on the same page.

Ask Them about the Process for Each Service
The process of dethatching and power raking are very different (we’ll cover this below), so this would be my first question.  If the company you’re speaking with doesn’t differentiate between the two, they’ll ultimately tell you “Well, we only do one thing… here’s how we remove thatch,” and you’ll likely recognize that as dethatching.

Ask About Their Pricing
If they have two different price points, that tells you you’re dealing with a company who offers both dethatching and power raking. Power raking typically costs double the price of dethatching.


What is Dethatching

Dethatching is the less aggressive service–it’s perfect for when your lawn has a little thatch that’s starting to hinder it’s fertilizer absorption. Most lawns fall into this category. Dethatching usually involves a riding lawnmower with a unit mounted to the front of it that has spring tines that moderately dig up thatch just ahead of the mower bagging it up. This makes the process much easier than power raking, and if you hire a company to do it for you, it should be about half the cost.


What is Power Raking

Power raking is the more aggressive approach to taking thatch out of your lawn. This process involves a machine about the size of a push mower that uses mechanical flails to literally dig the thatch out of your lawn. It can pick up 2 ½ – 4 times more thatch than dethatching. Power raking is for lawns with a serious thatch problem.

And the process continues:

After the thatch is flailed from your lawn, the entire lawn is gone over with a mower that will mow the entire lawn while picking up the thatch. This process is much more labor-intensive than dethatching, and I joke that no do-it-yourselfer ever power raked their lawn twice because it usually ends up being more work than anticipated. Power raking is usually double the cost of dethatching if you hire a company to do it for you.


Which One Is Right for Your Lawn

At this point you are probably thinking, “Ok, that’s all well and good. Now I know how to tell them apart, but what good does that do me if I don’t know which I need?” Got you covered. Read on…

Dethatching and power raking are necessary if you feel like you have dead thatch in your lawn that is smothering or keeping your good grass from flourishing. The more you mulch your lawn, the more likely you are to need power raking or dethatching. The thicker your lawn is naturally, the more likely you are to need to power rake or dethatch.

Power raking is for fixing a problem…
If you have a thick lawn that you mulch often and have not done any thatch removal recently, you probably could use a power raking.

…And dethatching is preventative maintenance.
Dethatching is for the lawn that doesn’t really have a thatch issue per se, but has an owner who wants to avoid one… It’s like spring cleaning for your lawn.

Find a Lawn Care Pro Who Will Be Real With You

Keep in mind that you can power rake too much: If done repeatedly and aggressively, it can clean out your actual lawn which is not usually a lawn owner’s goal. If your lawn is already showing significant thinning, has gotten hard, is mostly shaded, and/or has a lot of bare spots, you should be looking at aeration instead.

If you are uncertain what you need, most professionals give free advice and bids. It would be a good idea to ask a professional you trust for advice on which service should be performed.

One of our core  values at All Terrain is to always be real–with our customers, each other, people we meet in the grocery store, and of course ourselves.  Point is, we live it.


So Here Is My Be Real Moment For You…

If you have any doubts about which service a company provides after asking them about their processes for power raking and dethatching, we would strongly recommend finding another company to work with.

The two processes are pretty distinctive, so if their explanation still leaves you trying to match up pricing and guess at what they’re actually offering, something isn’t adding up.

That something is likely lack of experience, but let me tell you, inexperience isn’t a quality you want applied to an aggressive service like power raking.

If you do not have a trusted lawn care professional in your life, and you have questions about dethatching and power raking (even DIY questions), give us a call or drop us a line.

We promise to be real with you, and make sure you’re on the right path!