View Full Version : De-Thatching Estimates

03-01-2001, 04:56 PM
Hi folks. I've been browsing through the forum for the last couple of weeks and I can't believe how valuable it's been for me. I'm new to this business and I'm starting on a part-time basis.
I had placed an ad in the local paper yesterday and I've had several requests for power-raking. How long do you figure it will take me to complete the job on a standard 5000 square foot lawn? (I may have under bid on the one I had visited today as he jumped at my offer of $150.00 for a 5000 square foot lawn.)
Any help is appreciated. Thanks.


03-01-2001, 05:47 PM
In our area that would be a high end proposal for 5m/sf.

A general rule of thumb for lots of the same size is this:
If you find that people are jumping at your price, then you are too low;
If they close the door in your face, then you are too high;
If they want to haggle price then youre in the ballpark.

Good Luck!

Mike Paulsen
03-01-2001, 06:49 PM
I would love to get that for 5000sqft.At one every hour to hour and half it would make for an good days wage.

AB Lawn Care
03-01-2001, 06:49 PM
Good to see an other canadian on the forum.There is a small groupe of us on here now.Cantoo Cutntrim and more.I would say there is about 10-15 of us.Keep in touch!

03-02-2001, 12:39 AM
Guys, thanks for the help. I guess I'll keep my quotes in the same ballpark for the next couple of estimates. I'd be happy to make these kind of margins. If I get the next couple of bids I'll raise it a little. AB Lawn Care if you're still out there, are there any other Canadians in this forum from B.C.?

03-02-2001, 12:51 PM
The last time I thatched was in 1999. I hate it and most lawns do not have a true thatch problem. I usually talk these people into aertion instead. If there was that problem I would de-thatch. Most people are really asking for power raking because of the brown grass on their lawn after winter dormancy. I explain this is not thatch and show them a core sample. If I was to de-thatch I would charge 30.00$ per-1000k with a 3k min. Then I would mow it shorter,power rake both directions, rake & remove, mow and edge. at that time I would try to sell areation and fertilizer and that lawn would be good to go. I only like to power de-thatch when the lawm is dormant and dry. This is a small window here.

Lee Homan
03-02-2001, 01:32 PM
Twotoros or anyone else,

Is power raking equivelant to scalping with a mower? And if so, would it be easier and/or not as hard on your mower? Also,
you mention aerating, will that take care of most of the thatch problems? Thanks! Lee.

SJR Lawncare
03-02-2001, 04:56 PM
NO, Power raking is NOT the same as scalping with a mower. The Power rake uses tines that pull up the dead grass or "thatch". Then you either blow into a pile & pick up or rake up. I've read that some guys on this forum mow over the pulled up thatch. But I dont.


John Deere
03-02-2001, 07:21 PM
Hey DBM, just so you know, if you can get $150 per 5000 sq.ft. tell them they are getting a great deal and go home smiling! That price is unreal for 5000 sq.ft. If you can get $10.00 - $12.00 per 1000 sq. ft. that's doing pretty good. You just got $30.00 per 1000!!!

03-02-2001, 09:41 PM
$10-12/m sf is what most in our area get for aerations. That service is basically walking behind a machine w/o labor intensive efforts.

Power Raking involves more than just the machine. First off the machine is not self-propelled you push it. Next the entire turf area in question has to be raked free of debris. Then the thatch is not only bulk-loaded onto our trucks but needs to be disposed of as well. This service is so much more labor intensive than the other thus the charge to reflect your efforts.

I hope that you can educate your customers to how extensive the labor is in offering this service so that you can make what alot of the rest of us are.

On a side note Gary, you should be charging $10-15 for the mowing in addition to the cost of the thatching service.

Good Luck to all.

03-02-2001, 10:17 PM
You're obviously familiar with power-raking. On the $150.00 job I figured it was going to take around 3 hours to do this job plus disposal. Sure, there's a learning curve here, but do you think my time frame is close? I don't mind spending more time on this because I'm just starting out and would appreciate some referrals. It's a very simple pie-shaped lot without trees.

Another question, does power-raking help with moss removal? A couple of locals are promoting power-raking for this purpose. I thought it was for lawns with a deep thatch layer (1/2" or more). Thanks.


03-02-2001, 10:30 PM
Is a direct reflection of poor drainage. Quite often to compete with and still give an effective measure for the customer I will offer an aeration to open up the soils, and then apply lime at the rate of 5lbs/per thousand sf.

I would say that 4-4.5 man hours is an adequate estimate for labor on the 5m/sf areas. We have spent around 1.5 hrs on 4/m sf properties (3hrs) and close to 2.5 hrs on 5-6/m sf properties (5 hrs). These times are for 2 man crews.

Hope this helps.

03-02-2001, 10:55 PM
I would charge 30.per 1k here because I would rather not do it. Others would do it so cheap it would make my bid spin. If someone goes for it I could do 5k in 2-21/2hrs by myself and then go dump. If the lawn was short enough I may not mow first. This would be my regular customer rate. Non-customers I might add 5 bucks per. I hate it and have done more than my share in 16 years.
My first de-thatch in 1986 was a real eye opener. Bid 10k fo 80$, had to rent the power rake and made two trips 15 miles and back to the landfill !!! Let us see, that's about 10 an hour - 25 for the rental - gas and use of the truck= A real good lesson.

03-02-2001, 11:17 PM
i have to say a couple of things, give the customer a rough estimate, dont commit to a single number. do take a core sample. if you have less than 1/2 - 1/3 of an inch of thatch you dont really have a problem. i would say in that case try to sell core aeration, you will make better money off that. however if you see more than 1/3 - 1/2 an inch of thatch accumulation tell the customer that it will be about this much, but keep in mind that if you do have a true thatch problem that you will have to go over the area several times with the rake blowing after every pass. then on top of that if you are removing a lot of thatch build up you run the risk of killing off a lot of the lawn, in which case you may have to reseed, but what happens if he says that you killed his lawn? then you are out not only the seed but the labor and whatever else. if you can do an aeration though you can also sell a fertilization program or something. that is just what i think though. i am putting down in my contracts this year "light dethatching" basically whatever the rake on the machine picks up.

03-02-2001, 11:33 PM
Here is an exerpt from our contracts on Power Raking/Dethatching:

A thin layer of thatch can be beneficial, as it helps retain moisture and adds resilience to the turf.
In severe cases, we use power rakes or vertical mowers to reduce thatch.

Thatch reduces the effectiveness of pesticides and creates an ideal environment for insects and lawn diseases. Dethatching is recommended when the thatch layer is more than 3/4 of an inch thick.

I would agree w/ LB82 that if you have less than the 3/4 of an inch in thatch that Aeration is a great service to recommend at that time. Overseeding, Fert, Lime are all things to consider in conjunction with Aeration services.

Hope this helps.

03-03-2001, 07:36 AM
Power raking beats the holy hell out of a lawn that doesn't need it. I'm talking a vertical mower like the Bluebird walk behind units. If the lawn is heavily thatched this is the unit.
A spring tine dethatcher type (JRCO or Walker units)rake is much easier on the lawn and can be done yearly. It lifts the mat of the lawn after it has been compressed all winter, it scarifys the ground lightly and pick the dead leaves and twigs along with some thatch off the lawn. It leaves the new shoots intact. I can do a 5k lawn complete in 45 min or less. Thats bagged and removed for 100 bucks. I use a Walker GHS 42" and it is unbelieveable. I can go dancing every night if I want and I'm not even tired. But I don't dance, just run to the bank. Good Luck.

03-03-2001, 08:05 AM
If you take the time to show the customer exactly what thatch is, and assuming thatch present exceeds...say 1/2 inch to three quarters youve educated your customer just enough to empower them to walk the yard while youre dethatching...pointing and looking.

So, whats the point Ed from turfquip? Well, the amount of thatch generated by a 5000 s.f. yard with thatch three quarters of an inch thick will shock and amaze you. It will also kill your bottom line after all the raking, hauling and disposing is through if you dont price it right. You may need to go over the lawn twice to get it all up. Remember, your customer now knows what that spongy brown stuff is. They will be watching, inspecting.

In my view a 5000 s.f. lawn with a thatch accumulation of a half inch or more is at least a half day job for two guys. Thus, I would not charge less than 250-300 for the service.
That price gives you a comfort zone on a service that can really do a number on you and that days profits.

Been there, Done that.

lawrence stone
03-03-2001, 09:36 AM
The only time I actually will remove the thatch from the site is when I use my Kees power rake on new customers that have small lawns.

On larger sites $25k+ I use a 46" tine rake hooked to a 44" or 52" walkbehind with double gator and hi lift) blades while pulling a 48" aerating sit-down sulky.

If you were to take a level acre w/o many trees I can tine rake, grind thatch, and aerate in two passes in opposite directions for about $250 in two man hours. None of the thatch is removed. A lot of it (thatch) will blow away with the strong spring winds and the rest will be driven into the soil by rain to decompose.

Since I don't need room for thatch this frees up my truck bed to hold lime, fertilizer, seed, and lawn roller (1930ís WPA model) etc.

Then I get on my walk behind with a jrco spreader, 15 gal sprayer and stand on sulky and fertilize (2-$10 bags of 32-5-7) and spot spray for broadleaf weeds for another $135 for one half man hour.

So in conclusion I just made $146 dollars an hour after direct expenses and did the job for less than any other contractor (to secure the job) do to my efficiency and technique.