Warm weather brings out green thumbs, and while nurturing a jungle of houseplants and starting a garden are worthy endeavors, a lush lawn is what dreams are made of. One problem: Lawn care isn’t easy and is riddled with jargon and tools like the dethatcher, which just happens to be one of the most effective grass management tools in the game. Here’s what you must know.
What is thatch?
Thatch is dead organic matter. Thatch isn’t inherently a problem, but when it builds up faster than it breaks down, it can build up and smother your grass, leading to discoloration and dead patches. If you run your hands through your grass and later there is a thick layer of dead grass and other non-grassy material, you should act accordingly.
What is a stubble breaker?
A dethatcher removes thatch using a series of tines (or springs) that dip into the grass bed and pull the thatch to the surface, where it can be collected and removed. Stubble cultivators come in many forms, but their basic function is the same: to rid your garden’s grass of dead matter.
How to dethatch a lawn?
Before dethatching, check the height of your grass. If it’s more than a few inches tall, consider a quick, shallow mowing before dethatching. Depending on the level of thatch buildup in your lawn, you can run the cultivator over individual strips of the lawn once or twice. Pass once, check the stubble area and assess if it could use another course. Once the lawn is dethatched, any dead material that has been lifted from the lawn bed will rest on top of the grass for you to pick up (a quick rake job should do the trick).
When should a lawn be dethatched?
There are two factors to consider for the “when” to dethatch a lawn. Generally speaking, dethatching is suggested if there is 1 to 2 inches of thatch buildup in your lawn. If less, it may not be necessary. If there’s more (or it’s particularly dense thatch), consider an electric rake, which is essentially a more powerful dethatcher. The second factor is the timing of growth: only dethatch a yard during a growth period for your type of grass.
The best lawn cultivators of 2022
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Best Overall Lawn Dethatcher
Sun Joe AJ801E Lawn Dethatcher
Sun Joe is the first of two brands that dominate the world of home stubble cultivators (find the second one immediately after that), and the AJ801E is a good standard-bearer for the category as a whole. Its 13-inch mouth is suitable for small to medium-sized yards, as pushing a dethatcher is a slower process than pushing a lawnmower, and you’ll need a fairly long extension cord, as it runs off the outlet. , no gas or rechargeable battery. A note on this: when pushing an electric dethatcher, you’ll know you’re going too fast if the motor starts to tense up, slow down, or wobble at all. One of the most attractive additions to Sun Joe’s entry-level dethatcher is the debris collection bag, which most dethatchers pull out of. Not having to rake and collect all that extra thatch is a huge time saver.
Best lawn cultivator for beginners
Greenworks 10 Amp 14-inch Corded Stubble Cultivator
Greenworks is probably the most popular user-friendly dethatcher. It is a hair more affordable than its competitors and has many of the same features. When lined up next to the Sun Joe, the differences are minimal. Most notable is the size; the Greenworks dethatcher is more compact, despite an extra inch of rotating tines. Its 10-amp corded electric motor is slightly weaker than the Sun Joe’s 12-amp motor, but the difference is negligible in most cases.
Best Compact Lawn Harrow
Worx WG850 14-inch Corded Electric Stubble Cultivator
Worx’s 14-inch, 12-amp corded dethatcher has two great features. The first is a folding handlebar that folds on top. Other dethatchers offer fold-down handlebars for easier storage, but they don’t completely ship with them. The Worx dethatcher folds up small enough to fit in the trunk of your sedan to take to your moocher friend’s lawn. The second is its weight; a whopping 32 lbs. That extra weight (5-7 pounds heavier than most other push cultivators) means less vibration when in operation, which is good if you have a larger than average lawn.
Best Lawn Dethatcher for Large Yards
Agri-Fab 40-inch tine cultivator
Do you have a large plot? Lucky enough to have a riding mower or an ATV? Here is what you want. It covers nearly three times the area of a push cultivator, and since there is no electric motor or many moving parts, it has a significantly longer useful life. The only thing you need to make it work: some very heavy bricks or cinder blocks. The weight on the trailer is what keeps the tines digging into the stubble below.
Best cordless lawn cultivator
Einhell GC-SC Power-X-Change 12 inch stubble cultivator
One word: wireless. The Einhell dethatcher works with a pair of rechargeable batteries. The benefits are obvious: no need for a 50 foot extension cord and no chewing up cost of said extension cord. You’ll need to make sure it’s loaded, or you’ll end up with a half-thatched yard, which isn’t ideal.
The 7 Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers of 2022
The grass is greener with a self-propelled lawn mower.
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