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How to Dethatch, Aerate and Overseed Your Lawn

Follow these simple tips for a healthier, greener lawn

If you’re looking to have the “perfect” lawn — one that gives your neighbors a serious case of “lawn envy” — then you’re going to want to add dethatching, aeration, and overseeding to your lawn maintenance schedule.

But these three jobs can be time-consuming and technical if you’ve never cared for a lawn before. So, for all you DIYers out there, here’s a crash course on what our crews do to get that perfect lawn for our customers.

1. Dethatch so your lawn can breathe easy.

If your grass is looking weak and pale, it’s more than likely heavy thatch (dead grass) has built up over your soil, leaving it gasping for air.

Some thatch is okay —but more than an inch can cause problems for your lawn by trapping water and keeping oxygen and nutrients from reaching the roots.

Thatch can also be a breeding ground for insects and disease-causing organisms.

The only way to remove excessive thatch is by vigorous raking with a good, stiff rake —and plenty of elbow grease!

You may have to use muscles you don’t often use, so here are a few tips to save your hands, arms, shoulders, and back:

  • Keep switching your hands so you don’t focus all the pressure on one area and cause a painful blister (wearing gloves helps, too)
  • Use proper body position and keep your legs slightly bent, your weight centered and your back straight.
  • Avoid twisting your back by moving from your hips and moving your feet.
  • Use short strokes so you’re not constantly reaching and putting stress on your shoulders.
  • Pick up thatch by crouching down with your knees rather than bending from the waist.

It’s a good idea to incorporate dethatching as a regular part of your late-summer/fall cleanup.

2. Aerate your soil for a lush, green lawn.

The best way to get that dark, green golf-course color you crave is to loosen the soil by aerating your lawn and allowing it to breathe. 

Aerating your soil on a consistent basis will extend the life of your grass by encouraging deep root growth. It also:

  • Helps minimize thatch build-up (and cuts down on your raking time!)
  • Breaks up compacted soil so air, water and nutrients can reach the roots, making your lawn thick and lush
  • Allows critical nutrients and microorganisms to work themselves back into the soil as the plugs break down. 

For best results, I’d recommend using a plug aerator. A spike aerator just pokes holes in your lawn and is less effective than removing a plug of grass and soil —and actually compacts the soil further.

Aeration should be done mid-August to mid-October to increase root growth, help your lawn to breathe and minimize thatch build-up in the spring. The plugs should be 2–3 inches deep, 0.5–0.75 inches in diameter, and about 2–3 inches apart.

3. Rejuvenate your lawn with overseeding.

Winter weather, aging grass, pets, and pests can take a toll on your lawn, leaving it thin, bare, and full of weeds. 

Getting into the habit of regularly overseeding your lawn can keep it looking like a thick, green carpet.

Here are a few tips to follow when overseeding your lawn:

  • Overseed your lawn in the fall to reduce or eliminate competition from weedy grasses —such as crabgrass, foxtails, and creeping charlie (cooler temperatures are also better for grass growth)
  • Start by cutting your lawn 2–3 inches high and removing the grass clippings so the grass seed has easy access to the  soil and roots more easily after germinating
  • Rake up the bald patches (use a rototiller for large areas) to break up the soil and remove dead grass and debris, helping the grass seed to germinate
  • If you’re not using an overseeding product, rake in a thin layer of enriched soil over your lawn to help the seed settle in (less than a quarter of an inch is plenty)
  • Keep newly overseeded lawns moist with frequent, light waterings twice a day for the first four days. 

Overseeding your lawn does more than just keep it looking green and lush. It keeps grass strong and healthy —which helps with erosion —reduces risk from pests and disease, and minimizes the need for dangerous chemicals.

Don’t want to do it yourself? Leave it to the professionals.

By following the tips above you can have a lawn you’re proud of.  But we understand not everyone has the time —or desire —to do it themselves.

As always, the team at Brandon Rushing is happy to help. See our lawn care programs or get a free quote with our online pricing tool.

Written by Brandon Rushing, Founder & President

Posted on: July 7th, 2021