Power Rake vs Dethatcher – Differences + Which to Choose

A very thick layer of thatch can cause a significant damage to a lawn. This layer of dead matted grass, rhizomes, stems, and clippings between the roots and grass can prevent important supplies to the grass roots including water, nutrients and sunlight. This is why you need a dethatcher or a power rake to rescue your lawn.

There are several ways to identify thatch build-up in your lawn including brown spots resulting from lack of water, thinning grass and a spongy feeling when you walk on your lawn. If you decide to dethatch your lawn, then use either a dethatcher or power rake based on the size of your lawn and thickness of thatch.

Power Rake vs Dethatcher: The Differences

Many people get confused in differentiating between a power rake and a dethatcher. In fact, some think that it’s the same tool with different names. It’s good to understand that they are designed to serve the same purpose but in different capacities. Let’s look at their differences and how they work.

Power rake

A Power rake is a push-mower like machine equipped with rotating flails and heavy-duty blades that slice and remove thatch from a lawn. Power raking is regarded as an aggressive way of removing thick amount of thatch from a lawn which could also damage your lawn if not properly done.

To grab the right amount of thatch without harming the healthy grass, a power rake should be adjusted to the right height before the task. A lawn should be power raked if the thatch is thicker than a half an inch. A little bit of thatch helps retain moisture, cool the soil and return nutrients to the soil.

Dethatching power rakes either electric or gas are expensive machine suitable for large lawns. Lawn care contractors and landscapers get them very useful. You won’t get value for your power rake if you own a small lawn. If you haven’t dethatched for years, it’s better if you consider hiring the service or simply using a dethatcher.


A dethatcher is a device that uses metal tines to remove thatch from a lawn. Using this machine is considered a less aggressive way of removing debris and dead plant materials from the base of the lawn. It pull up less than half an inch of thatch up to the surface of the lawn without stressing up the healthy grass.

A dethatcher comes in various types that include manual, tow-behind, and motorized. You’ll choose one depending on various factors including the size of your lawn, the severity of the thatch, your ability to operate and your budget.

Manual dethatchers are the least expensive thus highly affordable. They feature simple design that is similar to a garden or leaf rake. These models are the easiest to use and ideal for hard to reach areas. On the downside, manual dethatchers require high amount of physical energy to operate thus only suitable for small lawns.

Tow-behind dethatchers can be attached on a lawn mower or garden tractor thus easier to operate. They are suitable for covering considerably large yards and will do the job within a short period of time. However, they aren’t ideal for removing thatch in tight spaces.

Motorized dethatchers are powered by a motor and they look like push or walk-behind lawn mowers. They are easily confused for power rakes but they have spring tines for removing thatch from a lawn. Powered dethatchers are great for covering small to mid-sized lawns but you will have to get deeper in your pocket to own one.

Power RakeDethatcher
Ideal for lifting and removing thatch that exceeds 1/2 inch in thicknessMainly used to remove thatch that is up to 1/2-inch thick
Uses blades to slice and lift a thick layer of thatch from a lawnUses metal tines to remove a debris and a thin layer of thatch from a lawn
Aggressive and heavy duty way of dethatching a lawnLess aggressive and moderate way of dethatching a lawn
Can damage healthy grass if not properly operatedThere is less to no chances of damaging the healthy grass
A lawn will need time to recover after using a power rakeA lawn takes less time to recover
May need professional help to operateEasier to operate without need for skilled help
Expensive machine to purchase thus suitable for contractors or professional landscapersVery affordable device for gardeners or homeowners especially the manual models
Suitable for large areas or commercial lawnsSuitable for small yards or residential lawns

Which is better for you?

A dethatcher is a better option for small to medium-sized lawns. The light-duty tool will effectively remove small amount of dead and living organic debris from the surface of the lawn without damaging the healthy grass. You don’t need any special skill to use a dethatcher in managing thatch in your lawn.

A power rake on the other hand is suitable for large fields with thick amount of thatch. The equipment is expensive to acquire and not worth the effort if you are a homeowner with small to medium sized lawn. This is a must have machine for lawn care professionals and landscapers who operates at a profit.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.