11 Best Lawn Dethatchers (Review) In 2021
Adrienne started her professional life as a gardener at her local parks department and went on to train at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh where she was the first female student on the prestigious and world-renowned horticultural course run by the Botanic garden. An experienced and award-winning garden writer and past editor of some of Britain’s favourite gardening magazines, Adrienne has for over 30 years, inspired gardeners with a breadth of gardening know-how plus creative and decorative ideas. One of her main aims is to make gardening accessible, even to the smallest green fingers, with her clear advice and straightforward step-by-step instructions. Adrienne loves to travel and has visited, given talks and met ordinary home gardeners in far flung places like China, South Africa, Philippines and Caribbean as well as the UK.
- 1. Sun Joe 13" 12 Amp Electric Scarifier & Lawn Dethatcher
- 2. Greenworks 14" 10 Amp Corded Lawn Dethatcher
- 3. Agri-Fab 40" Tine Tow Dethatcher
- 4. Agri-Fab 45" Tine Tow Dethatcher
- 5. Mantis 5222 Power Tiller Dethatcher Attachment
- 6. Craftsman 40" Universal Tow Lawn Dethatcher
- 7. Agri-Fab Tine Dethatcher for All Tow Lawn Sweepers
- 8. True Temper 15" Adjustable Thatching Rake
- 9. Brinly Tow-Behind Lawn Sweeper with Dethatcher
- 10. LawnStar Natural Liquid Lawn Dethatcher Alternative
- 11. Brinly 48" Tow Behind Dethatcher
The Best Lawn Detatcher
If you want a garden that wouldn’t look out of place at the Chelsea Flower Show, then good lawn care is essential. This care goes beyond your regular mowing or trimming and involves dethatching or aerating your lawn.
Lawn thatch is made up of old turf, roots, stems, and other organic matter that hasn’t decomposed. As this matter accumulates, it forms a layer on top of your soil, which blocks nutrients from reaching the grassroots. Not only does this prevent your lawn from growing properly, but it also makes it difficult to mow. If you pass over thick thatch, it can block your mower, or cause the grass to get churned up instead of cleanly cut.
Dethatching is the process by which you remove this thatch so that your grass can grow as intended.
There are several machines available to help you with this, and you can choose from a manual lawn dethatcher or electric lawn dethatcher depending on your preference. We look at the best dethatchers available depending on the size of your grass, and also some of the key features to help you make a decision before purchasing any tools to go along with your lawn edger & weed torch.
13″ wide dethatching path
Adjustable raking depth
Air boost technology
Stainless steel tines
8-gallon detachable collection bag
This Sun Joe model is our best dethatcher choice. Sun Joe 13″ 12 Amp Electric Scarifier & Lawn Dethatcher is an electric dethatcher, ideal for small to medium lawns and is equipped with an adjustable depth function to tackle thatch of various thicknesses. You can go as deep as 0.4 inches below the soil and as high as 0.4 inches above the soil. This means you can achieve light scraping of the thatch, or dig more deeply into the soil if necessary.
This product has a 12 amp motor, making it one of the most powerful motors for a lawn dethatcher, so clearing small to medium gardens can be done in no time at all. The main reason it is not suitable for large lawns is due to the size of the collection bag. While it is a very useful feature to collect the debris, this bag needs emptying very regularly. If you are dethatching a large area, it could be a huge frustration for you.
Adjustable 5 position depth control settings
Spring steel tines
Not suitable for large lawns
Small collection bag
Extension cord not included
The Snow Joe and Sun Joe tool also features AirBoost technology. This is designed to preserve the sharpness of the spring steel tines so that you can maximize thatch pick up. It comes with both a dethatcher roller, for collecting thatch, and a scarifying accessory to cut small grooves in the turf. You can change the accessories using a wrench as required. The instant start button, together with a safety button, and a removable collector bag, make this an exceptionally easy to use electric dethatcher.
14-Inch Dethatching Path
10 Amp Motor
3-Position Depth Adjustment
Stainless Steel Tines
4-Year Tool Warranty
Our best value choice is the 14-inch, corded, electric dethatcher from Greenworks. Greenworks are a reputable brand when it comes to garden tools and they offer a four-year warranty on all their equipment, which gives you a lot of reassurance.
As Greenworks 14″ 10 Amp Corded Lawn Dethatcher is a lower-priced model, it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of some higher-priced options or the Snow Joe and Sun Joe choice. For example, there is no long cord, collection bag, or ultra-powerful motor. It does, however, have three different settings to tackle your thatch, spare stainless steel tines and it folds down easily to make it great for storage. It is also worth noting that this product has some of the best-designed wheels for an electric dethatcher, so it is very smooth to maneuver.
Easy to handle
Adjustable depth setting
Integrated cord lock
No collection bag
Extension cord needed
Despite it having only a 10 amp motor, there is quite a high level of vibration involved with this Greenworks model. Don’t let this put you off when you use it for the first time, just ensure that all the screws and bolts are fastened tightly to minimize any rattling! This compact model gets the job done well for a low priced option, is easy to maintain, and very easy to operate.
Twenty durable spring tines
40-inch wide swathes
Spring-loaded tines heat-treated
Transport handle for easy raising of the tines
Tow behind – attaches to the back of a tractor
If you have a large area of ground to dethatch then this model is worth considering. The Agri-Fab 40″ Tine Tow Dethatcher is a large lawn dethatcher (40-inch swath) designed to attach to the back of a tractor or ride-on mower. Despite its size, the Agri-Fab is easy to assemble and comes with a video for further, clear instructions. It is designed for durability, with heat-treated spring tines and a rust-proof coating to withstand heavy-duty use and damp conditions. There is also a cantilever transport to make raising and lowering the platform simple and 7-inch wheels for smooth transportation.
Using this dethatcher without any added weight will scrape lightly accumulated thatch, but it will bounce around quite a lot, giving you inconsistent lawn care results. If you add weight, not only does this stop the bouncing but it will allow the tines to get further into the soil and pick up deeper thatch. There is a weight capability of 70lbs.
Need to add weight to prevent bouncing
No collection mechanism or bag
One downside of this machine is that there is no way to collect the thatch; it will stay deposited on the ground so you will need to rake it up or bag it afterward.
48 inches wide
Durable heavy-gauge steel deck
Cantilever transport handle
Spring loaded tines
3 Year Limited Warranty
Another Agri-fab model, this lawn dethatcher is much the same as the 40-inch version, except it has a larger swath area. The Agri-Fab 45″ Tine Tow Dethatcher can tackle grass swathes of 48 inches and comes with 24 heat-treated spring tines, instead of the 20 tines in the smaller model.
Again it is versatile enough to fit onto any tractor, regardless of the brand, and has a simple cantilever handle to raise and lower the dethatcher without having to leave the tractor seat. You will still need to collect the deposited thatch once it has been scraped from the lawn, and additional weight is recommended to minimize bounce and maximize the effectiveness of this dethatcher. If you have a vast area of lawn to treat, then this product could be the best option as it is one of the largest detachers available.
Need to add weight to prevent bouncing
No collection mechanism
Dethatcher/Turf Rake Attachment for Mantis Tiller/Cultivators
Attaches to any Mantis Tiller/Cultivator
60 flexible spring-steel picks
Dethatches a 15-inch swath in one pass
Includes fender extensions
This particular lawn dethatcher connects to a Mantis Tiller, most of which are gas-powered but you can find one or two electric versions. If you already have a Mantis tiller, you will need to verify which model you have before buying this dethatcher as it doesn’t fit all products. Equipped with 60 steel spring tines, the Mantis 5222 Power Tiller Dethatcher Attachment will allow you to dethatch a 15-inch swath in just one go, making it a highly effective product. Thanks to the gas-powered motor on the tiller, it is also a pretty powerful option.
There is, however, no option of altering the depth of the tines, and there is no collection bag for the thatch so you will need to allow extra time to sweep or rake up the debris you have loosened. Many reviewers have also said that they find it difficult to maneuver around, not because of the weight of the machine, but because you have to pull it back to operate, so you can’t see where you are going.
Easy to assemble
Best suited for small areas
Only works with specific Mantis products, not universal
High price point for an attachment
Not the easiest to maneuver – have to pull it backwards
The Mantis 5222 is easy to assemble, and if you already have a Mantis tiller, it may be the easiest option for you to get the job done. If you need to break up the soil further for better results, then you can also invest in a compatible aerator to fit this tool.
Weight tray holds up to 70 lb
Automatic raking action
Cantilever transport handle
20 heat-treated tines for added durability
The Craftsman 40″ Universal Tow Lawn Dethatcher is almost identical to the Agri-Fab 40″ we reviewed, and that is because Agri-Fab manufactures Craftsman branded products. It comes with 20 spring tines, all heat-treated, and is again built for durability with a heavy-duty steel deck. The universal stainless steel hitch means it will attach to all tractors and can be easily lowered and raised from the tractor seat. The weight capability of this tow behind is 70 lbs, so you will be able to lift most deeply embedded thatch.
This particular Craftsman seems to be harder to assemble than other dethatchers due to the complexity of the instructions. It isn’t too difficult to put together, but the instructions are a little confusing and misleading at times. As with the agri-fab model, you will need to collect the thatch separately.
Universal hitch – no compatibility issues
Easy raising and lowering
Ideal for large areas
Instructions are not clear
Need to collect thatch separately
Gently and effectively lifts thatch
Attaches to Agri-Fab lawn sweeper
14 heat-treated spring tines
Fits Agri-Fab sweepers: 45-0337, 45-0331, 45-0320 and 45-0326
3 Year Limited Consumer Warranty
Another tow option for a dethatcher, this Agri-fab version is designed to attach to Agri-fab lawn sweepers, although it is also compatible with many other leading brands of sweepers.
The Agri-Fab Tine Dethatcher for All Tow Lawn Sweepers is easy to attach to the sweeper and works best for light raking of the thatch. If you want the tines to dig deeper, then this will require manual adjusting to lower the platform. Like most tow-behind models, this doesn’t collect any thatch, only scrapes it up, but for this version, you can at least buy a compatible bag to collect the thatch as you go. A fitted bag would speed up the whole process considerably.
Can be used on some non Agri-Fab sweeper brands
Compatible with a collector bag
Easy to attach
The main drawback of this dethatcher is the quality of the product. It is not particularly well constructed and the assembly is not as straightforward as with other brands. Several reviews have questioned its durability.
15-inch rake head
Curved steel teeth to cultivate the soil
Straight steel teeth to dethatch lawns
54-inch hardwood handle
Cushion end grip for comfort and control
The True Temper 15″ Adjustable Thatching Rake is a manual rake with a simple design. It is highly durable, comfortable to handle, and can be used for both dethatching and tilling by turning it over.
There is no doubt that this rake does the job, as it has enough well- positioned tines to scrape up thatch. It is an affordable option if you have a small area of lawn that doesn’t need aerating or dethatching very regularly.
Ideal for small areas
Easy to use
No automated functions so it requires considerable manual effort
Will need to sweep up after use
The downside of a manual model like this is that you have to put a lot of manual effort into completing the work and you will need to take a break regularly, so don’t expect it to be a quick process compared to an electric dethatcher! You will also need to follow up with a sweep or bag collection to pick up the extracted thatch.
2-in-1 sweeper and dethatcher
Tines can be raised when not in use
Transport mode option
High-velocity 6-brush design and 5: 1 brush-to-ground ratio
Large, easy-to-empty hamper
2 Rows of 12 independently flexing steel spring rust-resistant tines
Folding storage design
Our premium pick for the best lawn dethatcher is the Brinly Tow behind 2 in 1 model. The Brinly Tow-Behind Lawn Sweeper with Dethatcher has 24 spring steel tines that flex independently, and they are distributed across two rows, helping to make it more efficient at removing the thatch.
You can choose which level of depth you operate it on, without needing to add any weights. This means it can scarify the soil when fully lowered, or act as a simple dethatcher if you raise the wheels. Best results seem to come from passing over the area twice, first to dethatch and then later to scarify. There is also a transport mode that fully lifts the dethatcher, so it doesn’t come into contact with the ground when crossing pathways or hard surfaces.
High-quality heavy-duty materials
Large collection bag
Adjust the height of dethatcher and empty the bag without leaving the tractor seat
Assembly instructions are a little complex
What further sets the Brinly Tow apart from the competitors is not only the positioning of the tines but the high-quality material that the whole tool is created with. It is highly durable steel that is made to last while maintaining flexibility in the spikes. This model is also equipped with a generous collection bag that holds 20 cubic feet of debris, making clean up much more effective, and can be stored in an upright position once you get the job done, saving some storage space.
Alternative to a machine or rake
Easy to use liquid lawn dethatcher
Digests the thatch layer
Safe, hyper-concentrated blend
Treats up to 6,000 Sq ft per bottle
If you don’t like the idea of investing in heavy lawn dethatchers or using rakes for several hours, then our budget choice of a liquid lawn dethatcher is worth considering. The LawnStar liquid is environmentally friendly, suitable for all grass surfaces, and works by encouraging the decomposition of thatch. It naturally digests the dead turf.
The LawnStar Natural Liquid Lawn Dethatcher can be added to either a pump-up spray or hose-end sprayers and simply applied to your lawn in the evening or early morning. You simply spray on to your lawn and then water 15 minutes later. Bear in mind that you won’t get immediate results from this, it will require multiple applications over several weeks before you start to see an improvement. The best results will be seen when there is only light dethatching to be completed.
Easy to use
No assembly or manual labor required
Multiple applications required
May not be as effective as a machine on tough thatch
48″ Working width
Two rows of 12 independently flexing spring steel tines
All Steel construction
A safety rod is included to prevent contact with mower blades
8-inch never-flat rubber-tread transport wheels
Simple assembly – video guidance available
From the same manufacturers as our premium choice for best dethatcher, this Brinly 48 inch tow-behind model is another highly efficient tool. The Brinly 48″ Tow Behind Dethatcher is ideal for large lawns due to its 48inch width and heavy-duty frame with a weight platform to allow you to add up to 70lbs more mass should you want to tackle thatch that is deeply embedded. There is no automatic adjustment option; the level of depth is controlled by the weight you manually add.
The Brinly DT 48BH has the same flexible tines that are distributed across two roles and move independently, so works more effectively. And if, in the unlikely event that a tine breaks, this detacher has a safety rod that will catch the broken part, so it doesn’t clash with your mower blades.
Two rows of tines
Triple coil spring steel tines
Wide dethatching path – ideal for large areas
No collection bag
No automatic adjustments – weights are required
There is some assembly required for this model, so be prepared to set some time aside to get this right, but if you follow the video or guide carefully, then it isn’t too difficult. Made entirely from steel, this is one of the more durable lawn dethatchers, so it is likely to serve you for many years.
Features To Consider With Lawn Dethatchers
Dethatchers are available as electric or manual models. An electric dethatcher gets its power from an engine (usually a 12 amp or similar) and often comes in a walk-behind model, like a stand-up cordless lawn mower. Electric dethatchers are a little more expensive than a manual version and will require some assembly which may not be worth it if you only use it once every few years.
Manual lawn dethatchers are more affordable than electric dethatchers and are usually a tow-behind model (dragged by a lawn tractor) or operated manually. If you already have a lawn tractor and a large area of grass to tackle, then a tow behind dethatcher is a viable option for you. It saves you a lot of time.
For a small patch of grass that does not need treating very often, then a fully manual tool makes the most sense in terms of saving money and space.
When looking at size, you should consider the path width or swath of a dethatcher. If you have a large area to tackle and plan to use a tow-behind tool, then the width will typically range from 36 to 48 inches. Lawn dethatchers with a greater width should be able to tackle an area more quickly. Electric dethatchers will typically have a path width of between 10 and 16 inches, making them more suitable for small to medium areas.
If you are investing in an electric dethatcher, then you will need to check it is compatible with your power sources and extension leads. If you use it with the wrong voltage, then you will damage the internal workings of the amp motor.
For manual lawn dethatchers, you will notice that some of them are compatible with only certain brands of tractors or tillers. If you already have a lawn tractor then sourcing a tow behind dethatcher that has a universal hook, means it can be attached to all machines, regardless of the brand.
The weight capability of a dethatcher only applies to tow-behind models. Tow behind models are designed with a preset, light dethatching function, which works when you drag the tines across the grass. However, if you want a more thorough, aggressive dethatching process, you will need to add some weight. This will push the tines further into the soil, allowing you to lift up more embedded thatch.
The top weight capability for most tow-behind models is 70 lbs, and this will give you a very intensive operation, ideal if you have very thick thatch to deal with. Other models may only hold up to 40lbs, so better suited to lighter dethatching.
Lawn Detatcher FAQ
Q: Should I aerate or dethatch my lawn?
'Thatch' is a layer of dead turfgrass that accumulates on your lawn. You need to remove this and prevent further build-up of thatch to ensure that nutrients and water can get to the actual grassroots, giving you a healthy lawn.
Dethatching is the process of removing thatch with a raking appliance, where you press the tines deeply into the grass, making holes in the turf and scraping up thatch. This is an appropriate method to use when there is only a minor build-up of thatch.
If your thatch is more severe, or if you have poorly compacted soil, then it is time to aerate your lawn. This is best done after you have completed the dethatching process. Aerating breaks up your soil and pulls out 'cores' of soil from the ground, leaving holes that are few inches deep, so that water and nutrients can easily flow into the grassroots.
Q: How often to dethatch your lawn?
If you need to aerate your lawn, this is best done only every few years, or at the absolute most, once a year, if you have very poorly compacted soil and continuous excessive build-up of thatch.
Experts recommend that dethatching takes place at least once a year, usually in spring as it removes any debris or organic matter that has not broken down and decomposed in the colder months.
Before you start dethatching it is best to check the type of grass you have. This will help you to determine exactly when you will get the best results.