Power Raking

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Power Raking for Spring Lawn Care in Boulder & Fort Collins

Please Read- 99%+ of lawns in Colorado do not need a power raking service.

Power Raking is the act of physically removing the thatch from a lawn. Thatch is composed of a tightly intermingled layer of stems, leaves and grass roots, which accumulates between the vegetation and the soil. Too much thatch increases the turf’s susceptibility to diseases, reduces its tolerance to drought, cold, and heat; and hinders the movement of air, water, fertilizers, and nutrients into the soil. In severe cases roots of the grass will only take root in the thatch layer making the turf extremely susceptible to drought and heat stress. While seldom needed, this Spring lawn care service in Boulder and Fort Collins can become very necessary in rare cases.

Thatch accumulation is a symptom of a problem and that problem is the absence of microbial activity or a dead soil. Thatch will accumulate if the production of dead material exceeds the ability of the beneficial microorganisms to break down the organic matter into elemental components. Thatch build-up increases when there is an absence of beneficial microbial activity.

Dead soils occur if there is poor soil aeration and drainage, improper watering practices, cold temperatures, the use of some pesticides, and the use of fast release chemical fertilizers. We most often see an excessive thatch layer when a lawn is being watered on a daily basis and fertilized improperly. After we make corrections to the lawn watering and fertilization the lawn will often look worse before it looks better.

Other services that will help increase microbial activity and reduce thatch problems include: Double Aeration, sprinkler audit, adjustment in cultural practices (mowing tall), and a Humate application.

A power rake is only necessary in severe cases and can only be performed during a very small window in March. To prevent damage caused by improper power raking the service must be performed before the lawn greens up.

A power rake is only a tool to reduce the symptoms of a bad thatch problem and is not a long term fix for eliminating thatch buildup. When a severe thatch layer is discovered, the first step to fixing the problem is to increase of microbial activity in the soil. The best methods of increasing microbial activity in the soil is by using plant based organic fertilizers, core aeration, having Organo-Lawn perform a sprinkler audit, and by adding a microorganism stimulant like Humate and MDS Super Tea. It is important to remember that it takes time to rebuild the microbial activity in the soil and it typically takes one year to rebuild a soil's microbial population.

Always contact Organo-Lawn prior to power raking or dethatching your lawn. More than 99% of lawns do not need a power raking and therefore it is important to properly assess your lawn's thatch layer prior to ordering this procedure. Improper power raking or dethatching can severely damage a lawn.

Power Raking Boulder

This Organo-Lawn technician power rakes this lawn removing the thatch from the lawn. Power raking must be performed before a lawn turns green in the spring.

Thatch Explained:
  • 99.99% of lawns will not benefit from a power rake service.
  • Some Thatch is good, ½ inch or less is a normal amount of thatch.
  • Thatch is a symptom of a bigger problem and that problem is the absence of beneficial microbial activity. Power raking is not a cure for a thatch problem. The cure is rebuilding the soil's microbial activity.
  • Thatch buildup is caused by improper watering practices and improper fertilization techniques. Click here to read about proper watering practices.
  • If the thatch layer is greater than ¾ of an inch, it is a candidate to be removed via power raking.
  • Power raking should only be performed before the lawn greens up. Typically power raking is performed in early March.
  • Fast release nitrogen sources (non-organic fertilizers) can stimulate thatch buildup and add to the problem. Do not use fast release nitrogen sources.
  • Aeration or even better double aeration is a good way to help prevent thatch buildup.
  • Have an Organo-Lawn technician perform a sprinkler audit to correct the improper watering practices.

Please note that dethatching can be damaging to lawns if performed incorrectly or at the wrong time of year. In Colorado dethatching needs to be done before the lawn starts to green-up during the months of March and early April.

Click on Image to Enlarge

Thatch preventative practices:
  • 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.

Power Raking Season:

March 1st –March 31st (The lawn has to be dry, mowed very short, and mostly still dormant)

Rotary Sprinkler Head Boulder

Power Raking FAQ