Lawn Matted: How To Easily Remove Lawn Thatch

If the green lawn is matted, this not only looks unkempt, but also harms the lawn, because the soil is poorly ventilated. In addition, rainwater can not penetrate and run off. This is how easy you remove lawn thatch.

What is lawn thatch?

Lawn felt is organic material that covers the ground over time. The layer consists of moss and dead plant parts of the grass blades, which are formed during mowing or in the course of the natural vegetation cycle. This causes the grass to receive insufficient oxygen and light. If the layer is not removed, the lawn becomes more and more matted, which not only inhibits the growth of the grass blades, but also makes the lawn look unkempt.

Removal with scarifier

Dethatching is a proven method of removing felt from the lawn.

Scarifiers are available motorized or as hand scarifiers. However, the latter should only be used if the lawn area is small or you have the appropriate muscle power, because scarifying is a very strenuous job. Within the motorized scarifiers, you can choose between devices with an electric motor or gasoline drive, with gasoline devices being used mainly for large areas.

In addition to the type of drive, there are also different blades. For a delicate ornamental lawn, you should use a scarifier with spring tines, as they work a little more gently. A normal lawn can be treated with flail blades. In both cases, it is important that the blades or tines can be adjusted to the millimeter.

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Since the dethatching material must be removed from the lawn after treatment, the question of collection arises. For areas over 5,000 square meters, you should opt for a scarifier with a collector. If your lawn area is less than this, the decision with or without a collector is up to you.

Lawn Matted: How To Easily Remove Lawn Thatch


To prevent the lawn from becoming matted in the first place, you should scarify it once a year. However, the first time the lawn should already be two to three years old, so that the blades of grass are well rooted. If this condition is met, you can reach for the scarifier in the fall or spring, with preference given to the spring time.

When is the exact time in the spring is assessed differently. In any case, you should not dethatch too early, so that the blades of grass, weakened by the winter, well survive the incisive treatment. According to the calendar, April is often recommended. When orienting in terms of lawn care, two weeks after the first fertilizing is ideal.

When dethatching in the fall, keep in mind when planning that the lawn will have plenty of time to recover afterward before winter dormancy. Therefore, according to the calendar, the ideal time in many regions will be early September.

Tip: Regardless of whether you remove lawn thatch in spring or fall, only scarify dry lawns when the air temperature is between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius


Before you scarify the lawn, you should mow it. After that, the length of the grass blades should be two to three centimeters. However, you can set the lawn mower shorter. After that, adjust the blades of the scarifier to one to two millimeters, so that they do not damage grass roots. Now you can start working:

  • in case of heavy lawn felt (or after a few years): scarify lengthwise and crosswise (checkerboard pattern)
  • in case of light felt (or well-kept lawn): scarify the lawn in one direction
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This involves pushing all dethatchers that are not hitched to the riding mower. Devices for hitching are attached as front or rear scarifiers, depending on the model.

Note: If the dethatcher is turned on, do not linger in one spot. If you remain stationary, damage to the turf may result.

Aftercare instructions
Once dethatching is complete, follow the steps in the instructions below:

  • Collect dethatching debris
  • Smooth the surface with the lawn mower
  • Fertilize
  • reseed the lawn
  • Rest the lawn for a few weeks


The demossing of the lawn is crowned with success if it is only slightly matted and only a few spots are affected. For this purpose, a so-called demosser, also called a lawn harrow, is used, in which several spring tines work the lawn surface so that the lawn felt is removed and the soil is aerated.

In the motorized version, the de-mooser is attached to the riding lawn mower, while in the mechanical version, it is a long bar that is pulled across the lawn.

Tip: Treat the entire lawn area with the demosser to prevent renewed lawn thatch.

Frequently asked questions

Can I remove lawn thatch in the summer?

Summer is not an ideal time for dethatching, as the heat and sun already stress the lawn enough.

Is it possible to rent scarifiers?

Yes, you can find equipment for rent in hardware stores or specialized shops.

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  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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