First off, you’re probably wondering what “Thatch” is and why you would need to “Dethatch” your lawn.
Thatch is the dead grass clippings and weeds along the dirt that both protects the grass when you walk on it and provides a cushy surface. However, if too much of it builds up, it can choke off new grass growth, which is vital at our home. See, not long ago, I had an accident with fertilizer and ended up burning an “American flag” pattern into our front lawn. Luckily it was right around Independence Day, so I played it off as a patriotic stunt 🙂
Anyway, back to the thatch. You can remove thatch two ways:
1. Manually with a rake (the heavy-duty kind, not a leaf rake)
Cost: Free when you borrow your neighbor’s rake
2. Rent a “power rake“, which is like mowing the lawn with a supercharged rake
Cost: $35 for 4 hours, $50 for all day
I decided to try the manual route first
I borrowed Nick’s rake and started pulling up thatch from our front lawn. We have about 5000-6000 sq. ft. of open lawn and I finished about 200 sq. ft. in an hour. I pulled up a full paper lawn bag worth of thatch, which was quite impressive, but my abs and lower back were pretty sore the next day.
My bright idea for a workout
Since I didn’t have time to rent the power rake until later in the week, I figured I would try to do as much manual dethatching as possible the next day. I was really motivated in the the great ab workout I would get (I hate situps), and testing myself to see how much I could accomplish before the daylight ran out.
In 3 hours, I finished about 1500 sq. ft (about 3/4 of our front lawn). I only got 1 blister and definitely felt sore yesterday. However, as soon as I got into work this morning, I called to reserve a power rake for Friday morning. There’s no way I’m doing another 3000-4000 sq. ft. of open lawn with a stinkin’ rake!
Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Workout
So I calculated (in my head with poor math) that it will take me 2 years to dethatch the lawn manually with a rake. However, I can rent the power rake, split the cost with the neighbor, and pay just $25 for an all-day rental (even less with more neighbors pitching in). A number of people have claimed dethatching with a power rake is comparable to mowing your lawn. So, that means it should take me 1-2 hours to dethatch my entire lawn with the power rake.
Which one would you choose? I’m opting for the power rake. I think I make a little more than $25 for 2 years of work.
Incidentially if you’re looking to buy a power rake, the one to get is the Sun Joe Lawn Dethatcher. Its electric, but the reviews are good. It retails for something like $123 on Amazon. Here is a picture of that bad boy:
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Photo credit: Faythe
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