Lawn Care Tips

As a lawn care provider for 20+ years, my aim here is to provide some helpful hints, tips and advice to those who want to increase the health and appearance of the lawn they care for. Whether you are new to lawn care or an old hand, you will find information here that will save you time, money and wasted effort. Thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Don’t Get Sold On Power Raking

There are many homeowners – and lawn care providers, as well – who believe that power raking should be a part of every Spring clean-up. My experience has been that power raking is rarely necessary for most lawns. For example, advocates of power raking usually claim that it will solve the problem of excess thatch. Although it may indeed remove thatch, usually it will also remove perfectly healthy grass plants or slice-and-dice them so that they will soon die. After a lawn has been power raked there is a considerable amount of exposed soil throughout the “lawn”. It may take weeks – sometimes months – for a lawn to recover from this treatment. Also, while it is recovering there is a very good chance that both broadleaf weeds and crabgrass will sprout and take hold in those bare areas.

The fact of the matter is, a half an inch or so of thatch is actually beneficial to your lawn. If, however, your lawn feels spongy as you walk across it, you may indeed have an excess of thatch. A much better solution than power raking is core aeration. A core aeration machine punches holes into the surface of the soil then pulls out and deposits small plugs of soil all across the lawn. These cores should not be raked up or disturbed. They should be allowed to remain on the surface of the lawn until they have been rained on or watered a couple of times. When the soil in these cores becomes wet, it will run down to the thatch layer and introduce microbes into that layer. The net effect of this process is that the thatch layer is now being composted by having soil both above and below. This is a very natural process and it does not tear up your lawn. Any remaining debris from the coring plugs can then be raked up, mowed up or just left to decompose.

An important consideration here is that the core aeration process does much more than naturally reduce the thatch layer. If the soil your lawn is trying to grow in has been compacted due to heavy foot or vehicle traffic, then core aeration is probably the best method to correct this situation. Also, after core aeration more water can find its way into the lawn’s root system as opposed to running off the hard surface. Yet another benefit is that it allows more oxygen and fertilizer to find it’s way into your lawn root zone.

So the bottom line here is that if your lawn needs to be treated for excess thatch or if the soil your grass is growing in is compacted, you’ll get much better results by using the core aeration technique than by power raking.

NEXT TIME: The Benefits of Mulch Mowing


At 6:22 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Paul, I'm having a hard time with my 1 year old lawn. It's Kentucky Blue Grass and it was laid over clay. When I first got the lawn I watered a few times a day as I was told. The lawn looked great until late in the summer when most of it turned pretty brown. I was concerned that it wouldn't come back in the spring at all but it did. It's taken most of the summer and it looks relatively green but there is still a ton of yellow/brown grass mixed in. This give the lawn kind of a dull look. Tru Green couldn't do a thing for me so I went to a local company who is suggesting power ranking. They first recommended a core arreation program but then thought a power raking might clear some of the tatch and green up the lawn. What do you think about that? Will regular arreation clear that up over the next few seasons? I'm in Michigan by the way. Thanks, I'm a new home owner and I just want some nice green grass.

At 12:48 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Hi Danny, if your lawn is only 1 year old, you probably don't have a thatch problem. I may be that your lawn just is not thriving. I almost never suggest power raking (read my blog article) Core arreation has many benefits as does top dressing with top soil or compost. Also Bluegrass is a high maintenance turf.It requires lots of sun, water and nutrients in order to look its best. Send me your phone # and the best time for me to call you to my email at

At 2:18 PM, Blogger ric said...

Hi Paul,

Your blog is great and very helpful. I have a 2 acre piece of land I want to seed with Buffalo grass, in St. Louis, Missouri. I know I should wait until the fall but I need to do something in the spring to get grass on the area to prevent erosion. What is the best and most economical way to get Buffalo grass on this area. The ground does not have topsoil and has a lot of clay.

At 7:00 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Hi Ric,

I have no direct experience with Buffalograss. I know it is a native grass and so tends to grow well without too much care. You can pick up a free PDF online from the University of Missouri - Extension on the "Establishment and Care of Buffalograss Lawns" (Pub. G6730)in your area. Copy and paste the following url into your browser:

I hope this helps and let me know how well the Buffalograss works for you.

At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can Anyone help me? I have a huge lawn and last august I think I may have cut it too short. It was very healthy last season and this season there are many spots where there is brown grass with no roots system at all. There are many good areas as well. I'm pretty sure there is no grub damage as I have not seen any and I havent seen lots of birds or animals eathing through the bad areas. I plan on renting a power raker to take up all the old rootless grass. At the same time, i plan on putting adjusting the power raking spikes to also bring up the soil a bit. I then plan to re-seed those areas and put a seed starter mulch over the top. I have way too many big areas with no roots so I don't think aeration will work. Any thoughts?

At 1:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been power raking for 20 years and if done properly will
benefit your yard. The results
I see in my customers yards is
evidence enough. I also aerate
yards and it is one of the best things you can do for your yard.
Remember though that cores will
fill in and you may have to aerate
again as needed.

At 3:12 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Thanx. your Post is great and contain very useful and uptodate information. keep posting lawn care maintenance.

At 1:20 AM, Blogger Annie Monie said...

Marketing is also about understanding your customers and their needs and desires. From your lawn care business market research you should have a fairly good idea of the profile of a typical lawn care service user. Once you know who the people in your target market are you can then look at what kind of services they need and what kind of marketing methods they would be responsive to.

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At 12:04 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi there! great post. Thanks for sharing a very interesting and informative content, it is a big help to me and to others as well, keep it up!
Without proper care, however, you’ll run into even more work. Moss and weeds can take over, patches may dry out and turn brown, you may have a crab grass takeover, or disease can strike. Proper lawn care can help prevent many of these from happening.

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At 12:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So my neighbor hired me to take care of her lawn we have the same soil type which is mostly clay, and I would assume the same grass my guess would be a form of blue grass in years past her lawn was mowed maybe 3-5 times during the spring/summer/fall and watered 3 times a week 1-2 hours in each spot so what I have noticed is the grass does not start getting green until it is at least 6 inches tall and I have been mowing it to a 2 inch height her entire lawn looks brown no matter how much water she or I put on it and it doesn't seem to be improving at all. I have fertilized once this year for her and have put revive on it twice, last fall she hand aerated and last summer she power raked which seemed to improve it for the first time last summer but still did not mow regularly any suggestions on how to make her lawn not brown and crunchy would be great! Thanks

At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Always wanted to know how long of a plug should I get from aerating my lawn 1/2 or 3 inch plug?

At 8:05 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Is this blog still active?

At 10:58 AM, Blogger HWC said...

I have a huge thatch issue. I had an Cotton Wood Tree die in the drought last year, and all the leaves are now compacted into my lawn, as well as the regular grass thatch. I was not going to power rake or anything as We are on a 100% water band, but that band has been lifted, and we have had significant rain fall lately. I am now needing to help my lawn grow. Should I power rake to remove this thatch and leaves or what is your suggestions?

At 12:44 AM, Anonymous Paul said...


Contact your local county agent to get your questions answered. Somebody in the know needs to look at your lawn before advising you.


At 12:52 AM, Anonymous Paul said...

Yes Justin,

This blog is still active.


At 7:55 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm trying to keep my lawn green, however there are some spots that are yellow. I recently purchased a trampoline and if I leave it in one spot for a week or so the lawn underneath is greener than before. I've considered power raking but not too sure. By the way, the yellower areas are in direct sunlight with no shade. Email me with suggestions @

At 7:53 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I have a lawn care business in Calgary Alberta Canada. Power raking is done here to help cleanup the turf after our cold snow covered winter. The power rake removes the dead grass or winter kill. I prefer to use a dethatcher which rides on the front of my zero turn and walk behind mowers - less damage to the turf.

At 10:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read articles about power raking. My lawn. And those in the neighbourhood have more moss than grass. It's quite an amazing site!

So I sprayed moss control. Turned black almost immediately. Then i :
Limed the yard - both types.
Fertilized high n
Tried to remove the dead moss by hand dethatching rake. There was do much moss to take out I felt I'd need to dig up the whole yard to get rid of all the moss. That was too much work so I got it power Raked. And omg the amount of derbies was crazy.
Then immediately sSeeded

I did it in that order probably not the right order however I now have a beat up power raked lawn with fresh seed.
Hope this woks out.
R in cres beach bc

At 1:19 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Core aeration is completely unnecessary unless you have heavy, heavy compaction. (ie its been driven on) Soil conditioners are a better option. Core aeration bring weed seeds to the surface. A power rake at the right setting is far more beneficial prior to overseeding.

At 3:03 PM, Blogger Sea said...

Thank you for your blog. I live in Hawaii and have seashore paspalum in my yards. It is being dethatched today and then aerated next week. Should I discard the raked grass leaves to prevent spreading the grass rather than creating a compost pile? Thank you for your time.

At 8:28 PM, Blogger Shoshana said...

Hello. I have hired someone to put in new grass for me this spring, but it seems that he didn't do proper job. He covered it with street and told us to water it two times a day. However very little grass grew and by the end of summer the yard is full of weeds. There are lots of small and big rocks in the lawn that he didn't remove as well. What is my best option? Should I kill the grass and weed and rotoa till or should I remove the dead grass/ seed with Powe rake? I have applied grass killer but still see some green grass/ weed? Thanks

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At 4:57 PM, Blogger Buy Tarpaulins said...

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