I get a lot of customers who tell me they are about to de-thatch there lawn. This generally sends shivers down my spine because there are only a very select few lawns that really need to be de-thatched.
Most de-thatchers operate by using a big power broom to strongly rip dead grass off the soil so it can be removed.

I meet a lot of people who swear this should be done to their lawn annually and they will not do any maintenance what so ever until the de-thatching is complete. These are usually the people I hear from the most throughout the growing season here in Michigan. They call me to tell me how much they love me, usually with a few four letter words, they call me to tell me what an awsome guy I am because their lawn looks like a few more four letter words and they call me to tell me exactly what they think of me all season long. Are you detecting any of the sarcasm within this story at all. If not, let me say this.

Every lawn requires some that, thatch in a lawn helps with the following:
1) Thatch holds moisture in and prevents runoff or prevents the water from evaporating to fast so that it has a chance to reach the root system better.
2) Thatch helps to keep the soul temperature cooler during hot sunny days which reduces the potential for heat stress.
3) Thatch reduces the amount of weed growth in a lawn because weeds tend to germinate in the bare areas where the soill temperatures are the hottest.

When a de-thatching is done, not only is it removing dead grass, but it is also removing perfectly healthy grass and stressing the remaining grass as well. Whenever somebody asks me if it is a good idea to de-thatch the lawn my response is " is it a good idea to stick your head under a street sweaper".

How much thatch should I have: a healthy amount of thatch equals about 1/2 inch. Anything more than 1/2 inch should be addressed to help reduce other potential problems.

What steps should I take first: If you find that your lawn does have excessive thatch, first try to have a core aeration done. This would be much less intrusive on the turf and minimize other potential problems that a de-thatcher could do. is is usually the best option if your thatch level is between 1/2 inch to 2 1/2 inches.

What if a core aeration didn't do the trick: If you tried a core aeration and now you are finding that there is still and excessive amount of thatch then your next step should be a power rake. A power rake is very similiar to a dethatcher but less intrusive to the lawn as for it does not generally go all the way down to the soil.

What if I am impatient and don't want to try the other options: You still have the option to go right ahead and use the de-thatcher. Just please remember not to do this in the middle of the growing season. this option must be done before the lawn has begun to show signs of new growth or in the fall after the lawn has completed it's growing cycle for the season. Any other time would create undo stress that may not recover.