Power Rake - FAQs

Q. What is the best time of year to power rake a lawn?
A. A power rake needs to be performed in the late winter/early spring before the lawn greens up. W only perform power raking for lawn in Boulder and Fort Collins in March. If this service is performed later into the spring it can severely damage your lawn by ripping green foliage out of the turf, making it susceptible to disease and sometimes death. We only perform power rakes when the lawn is dormant. We have treated many lawns that were improperly power raked and they typically take a year to fully recover. 99.99% of lawns will not benefit from a power rake.

Q. How can I tell if a lawn needs a power rake?

A. Take a shovel or a core sampler and remove a small section of the grass with the thatch and soil. If your thatch is thicker than about 3/4” you may need to have it physically removed with a power raking service.

Q. If the lawn is dormant can we do a power rake later in the year?
A. You can, but not from us. We break down and store our power raking equipment by April 10th.

Q. I have missed the deadline for the power rake but I have thatch. Is there anything I can do to help prevent or reduce my thatch layer this season?
A. Yes; there are a number of things you can do to reduce the cause of the thatch in your lawn.

  • Lawn Mowing - Never cut more than 1/3 of the blade of grass at one time. If the soil is teeming with microbial activity the mulching the lawn clippings will not increase the thatch layer. Change the mowing height to 2.5 inches in the early spring and late fall and increase the height to 3 inches or taller in the summer.
  • Lawn Fertilizing - Fast release nitrogen applications will kill beneficial microbial activity and the result is a decrease in thatch decomposition and an increase in thatch production. Always avoid high dosages of synthetic nitrogen sources like ammonium nitrate and urea.
  • Irrigation - Avoid light and frequent watering. Always irrigate the turf deeply and infrequently. This entices the roots of the grass to grow deep into the soil instead of the thatch layer. Changing from a light and frequent lawn watering to a deep and infrequent watering schedule might make the lawn brown out or look worse before it begins to look better. This is because the roots of the grass are currently shallow and it takes time for the deep watering to train them to dig deep into the soil.
  • Lawn Fungicides and Pesticides - Never apply lawn fungicides to control a lawn fungus or thatch. These kill beneficial microbial activity. Some pesticides negatively affect desirable microorganism and earthworm populations. Pesticides should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

Q. Why is a thatch layer in the lawn causing damage to the grass?
A. Thatch is a symptom of a lack of microbial activity in the soil. The thatch layer acts like a sponge so when you water your lawn it is difficult to get the water into the soil. The grassroots often take root in the thatch layer instead of the soil causing the lawn to dry out quickly. Most people combat this browning of the lawn with frequent lawn watering and frequent fertilizer applications to keep the turf green. These frequent watering and fertilizer applications continue to compound the thatch problem making it much worse. If the improper lawn watering and frequent lawn fertilization continues lawn diseases will soon take over the lawn. .

Q. Is all thatch in a lawn bad?
A. No some thatch is good; 1/4” or less of thatch is actually good because it insulates the soil and keeps moisture in the ground for a longer period of time.

Q. I was told that power raking a lawn is bad; is this true?
A. Potentially; if the power rake is performed incorrectly, it is bad for the lawn. This is why we stop the service on April 1st and only recommend the process to be performed by a professional who understands the risks involved with performing a power rake. We offer power raking as a last resort to reducing thatch density.