Aerating and thatching are two important lawn maintenance tasks that will result in a much healthier yard. While they can be done consecutively with the proper machinery, aeration and dethatching are two distinct tasks with different goals.
The goal of this process is to provide better airflow in lawns that have been compacted through heavy traffic and regular use. Small cores or plugs are punched into the soil and removed, leaving holes spread evenly across the lawn. These are usually about 2 to 3 inches deep.
Aeration will leave small plugs of dirt on your lawn that can be easily gathered up with a rake. You can crush them and spread the collected dirt lightly onto the grass again as a top dressing.
Thatch is the term used for the layer of decomposing organics – grass, leaves, etc. – that sits on the top of your lawn. A thin layer is actually beneficial, but when the thatch gets thicker than 1/2” it becomes a breeding ground for pests and reduces the air flow around grass plants. Thick thatch needs to be removed by a process commonly called thatching or dethatching.
Dethatching is most often done in the spring to give the newly revived grass a boost. Together with aerating, thatching is necessary for a healthy, thriving lawn.