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View Full Version : What the most profitable way to dethatch?


Tonychic
08-13-2009, 06:43 PM
I do aerations and I get alot of people asking me if I dethatch. I think I could make some nice money, but I have never done it. I know dragging the machine across someone's yard is the easy part, but from what I hear a normal 3000sf yard could kick up as much as 15 bags of thatch. That seems like it is very labor intensive and would take forever.

How do you guys make cash doing it.

Thanks

Tonychic
ARC Services

KGR landscapeing
08-13-2009, 07:00 PM
Power rake then suck it up with a zturn with a bagger

Tonychic
08-13-2009, 07:01 PM
Power rake then suck it up with a zturn with a bagger

Won't that just push the thatch back down into the ground?

bigslick7878
08-13-2009, 08:29 PM
A normal 3000 sq ft yard will not pick up 15 bags of thatch first of all. Matter of fact you would be hard pressed to get 5 out of that area.Or like 3.

ZTR will work,or a leaf vacuum. Some dethatchers come with a bag attachment,but they don't hold much.

Or you can do it the old fashioned way, with a rake. 3k square feet is nothing I have done about 30 by hand with a rake.

I dont even know whay you would waste your time with a machine for that small of a yard. It would take 15 minutes to rake it up and bag it max.

Tonychic
08-13-2009, 09:04 PM
Ya know, I just threw a number out there w/o thinking. Now that I think about it, I would guess the average lawn is in the 60x120 range which would be 7200.
I'm thinkin you want to use the machine for that.

fishfacejr2
08-14-2009, 12:44 AM
i have a power rake that has a bag and i still have to go over it with a mower. it can be hard work, but it pays very well :)

Stillwater
08-14-2009, 03:58 AM
[QUOTE=Tonychic;3139527]Won't that just push the thatch back down into the ground?[/QUOTe




NO................

Stillwater
08-14-2009, 04:35 AM
I do aerations and I get alot of people asking me if I dethatch. I think I could make some nice money, but I have never done it. I know dragging the machine across someone's yard is the easy part, but from what I hear a normal 3000sf yard could kick up as much as 15 bags of thatch. That seems like it is very labor intensive and would take forever.

How do you guys make cash doing it.

Thanks

Tonychic
ARC Services


Dethatching is big money in my area, The most profitable way in the long run is to outright own the power rake machines. If you use a tow drag tine rake you will not generate massive amounts of thatch and they are really not effective in severe thatch, on the other hand and by far better way is to use a power rake where you can fill a pickup in no time. hand raking with a leaf rake does not dethatch a lawn, thatch is dense hard and thick in some lawns and requires aggressive cutting and ripping action only found in power rakes with flail blades or spring tines. Manual thatching rakes are available but the labor involved is a joke. If you never dethatched before make sure you have a complete understanding of exactly what thatch is because with proper removal, huge amounts of debris are created and it is a somewhat destructive process and it temporarily stresses the lawn. I will not mention screen names but their is a surprising number of posters in various groups on lawnsite that clearly don't have a true understanding of what thatch is and they are passing out advice like unwrapped candy.

Smallaxe
08-14-2009, 10:52 AM
http://www.uvm.edu/pss/ppp/articles/thatch.htm
*** "What is thatch, you ask? Thatch is a layer of undecomposed stems and roots that accumulates near the soil surface." (I would clarify here that they are not all dead)

*** "Grass clippings do not contribute to thatch accumulation. The type and vigor of the grass in the lawn determine the rate at which thatch accumulates. A thatch-prone bluegrass sod, that is given lots of water and fertilizer, forms thatch more rapidly than other grasses given less care.

Thatch is a normal part of any lawn and only becomes harmful when the thatch layer is thicker than one-half inch. When thatch becomes excessive, the lawn may root into the thatch rather than the soil. Thatch does not hold moisture so lawns rooted into thatch will not tolerate dry weather or cold temperatures. In fact, a very "thatchy" lawn can be rolled up just like a rug when it dies out.

Thatch management can take several forms. The easiest management technique involves use of a thatch hand rake with knifelike teeth. Three other options are vertical mowers, coring, and topdressing.

A vertical mower is a specialized machine, which often can be rented, that uses power driven tines to bring the thatch to the surface. While this is the most common way to dethatch, it is probably the least desirable. Sections of very "thatchy" lawns may need to be reseeded due to dethatching injury. Early September is the best time to use this type of thatch removal, with early spring next best.

A more desirable alternative is coring. The limitation here is the availability of the coring machines. Coring machines remove cores of soil and sod. The hole allows air and moisture to penetrate the thatch and help in its decomposition.

A thin layer of soil can be applied over the lawn to help decompose the thatch layer. This topdressing also may be combined with coring. The soil introduces microorganisms that help decay the thatch." ***

I would use compost, sugar, or molasses to aid in the natural digestion of thatch as opposed to just topsoil. Otherwise it is pretty much a right-on article.

Tonychic
08-14-2009, 10:22 PM
Well, so many people are asking me if I do this that I am considering it. If I do it, I would do it all the way. I would buy the machine.
What I am thinking is:

1) Run the power rake over the yard

2) collect the thatch in one of two ways:
a) use a blower and a tarp and blow the thatch onto the tarp and drag that to the truck
b) Use a yard vaccum and suck it up and bag it.

Do you guys think it woudl be possible to leave that bags at the cutomers house for pick up on their garbage day?

Stillwater
08-14-2009, 10:50 PM
that is between you and your customers

Tonychic
08-15-2009, 05:34 PM
How long do you guys think it would take to do a dethatching with the following variables:

1) 7000sf yard
2) 22" power rake
3) using yard vac to suck up the thatch and bag it


And also, what would be a resonable charge for suc a service?

Tonychic
08-18-2009, 10:37 PM
Anyone have any thoughts?

Smallaxe
08-19-2009, 09:07 AM
Yeah, I thought it was said aeration is the best of the options for turf. Cheapest and simplest as well. You want to do more work to charge the client more - well - many of us don't play that way.

Tonychic
08-19-2009, 10:46 PM
Yeah, I thought it was said aeration is the best of the options for turf. Cheapest and simplest as well. You want to do more work to charge the client more - well - many of us don't play that way.

I don't play that way either, but thanks for passing judgement.

Many customers ask me for this service, I am not pushing it on them. I tell them that aeration is better, but they still want detatching. So why let someone else get the business if the customer has already decided they want it?

Smallaxe
08-20-2009, 09:06 AM
If you are going to do it the customer way - why ask anyone else?

naughty62
08-23-2009, 10:02 AM
My number one priority for for fall clean up /dethatching is having a semi -self propelled power rake.If you can not test the machine ,do not buy it.some of the heavier and wider machines have to be pushed even in heavy thatch . They will caused you to be disenchanted with business real quick.a collection system such as a ztr withvac system.If your on a new business budget a couple matching mtd home owner specials with baggers and high lift blades,wire tine rakes .good hand rakes and tarps .One of the biggest problems is people get lazy and just want to ride or they are not willing power rake and return after morning dew , moist thatch and landscape debris dried .don not forget to get a ladder for gutters,back blower.plan ahead and do the best you can with the equipment you have .This may involve working from sunup to sundown when the lawns are dry or picking up a rake and tarp.

Tonychic
08-27-2009, 10:48 PM
If you are going to do it the customer way - why ask anyone else?

You make no sense...

My customers are asking for it, so I am going to provide it as an option for them. So this thread is just me trying to learn the best way to do it. I don't have access to a large commercial mower, so I am wondering if using a walk behind yard vacuum would be a nice alternative. Or would the small bag size be inefficient due to the number of times I would have to empty it?

Smallaxe
08-28-2009, 08:57 AM
The best way to handle a bad option...hmmm

Yard vacuums are useless. Use a tarp and blower. Anything that doesn't blow up, gets mowed back in.
In fact I would mow it all back in... Tell them aeration is cheaper and better for the lawn. One quick pass and you go home.

Running around kicking up dust and straw , then going back with a vacuum cleaner!?!
Not cool. Funny, but not cool. I would tell the customer that: "I don't have time."

Tonychic
08-28-2009, 10:27 AM
I hear ya...

The primary service I provide is aerating and I agree with what you are saying, but we all have dealt with customers in the past and know that they get something in their head, they want it.

Detatching info has gotten out to the general public and alot of people think is the best thing to do, even after informed that aeration is better. I have even had customer tell me, "Aeration does nothing, I want detatching". So in this case, if the customer has their heart set on it, then I might as well give them what they want, even after informing them of the truth that aeration is better. It's better I get the business then someone down the road.

So...vacuum is useless? You say cut it all back into the lawn, but I don't understand. Won't that just put the thatch back onto the ground? So, it looks like blowing onto a tarp and loading that into the truck. Seems like alot of thatch. I wonder how big a truck/dumptrailer you need for some lawns. Obviously bagging it is out of the question.

Smallaxe
08-29-2009, 10:48 AM
I can't imagine getting more than a small pickup load out of a 10k lawn. The only reason I mentioned SOME of it getting mowed back into the grass is because the blower isn't going to get that clean.

americanlawn
08-29-2009, 06:21 PM
I like post #9 by smallaxe. Also some thatch is good (under 1/2 inch). 1) helps minimize soil compaction from foot traffic, etc, 2) moderates extremes in soil temps.

We use walk-behind LESCO and Classon dethatchers. We go over the lawn twice (sometimes 3 times). 2nd pass = a 45 degree angle, 3rd pass (if needed) also 45 degrees from the other direction. We always dethatch when the soil is dry, and we ask that the customer mow short & bag before we get there. Usually we have to remove the debris after the first pass to allow the dethatching machine to get deep enough during the 2nd & 3rd pass. Then we remove the rest of the debris. Raking (using a tarp) works, but a commercial mower w/bagger is faster & easier.

Tonychic -- I would ask the customer if you could use his mower if it has a bagger attachment. Then see if you could buy the bags from the city & leave them at his property for pick up. This would make it easier on you and save the customer money. IMO if you have a 7000 s/f lawn in need of dethatching, you could easily fill up one or two pickup trucks.

naughty62
09-01-2009, 08:24 AM
We run a zd 326 with a factory grass collection system ,which means it has a factory detachable blower. It is quick detach /belt driven .Also leave the shop with 3 power rakes and a zd 21 with 4 ft. wire tine rake with ele. lift cylinder .It all depends whether the lawn needs dethached or just a clean up as in leaf /stick and lanscape material removed .We do some aerations if they will pay for it .

Green Edge Landscape LLC
09-01-2009, 04:56 PM
check out the bluebird dethatchers you can get a bag for them thats what i use then i mow over it all with the bagger anyway for any that didnt get picked up

mdlwn1
09-01-2009, 08:16 PM
Wow...I stopped dethatching like 20 years ago...this whole thread is surpriseing to me. Funny thing is, havent HAD to thatch one...and wouldnt if asked. My lawns never really build thatch (excessive). We used to go out with a 3 man crew and two trucks and bring home like 1000-1200. Then we started aerating only (with a Ryan 28) seeding, and starter ferting....bringing home 2200-2500 with one truck and a 2 man crew. All homes around here have irrigation and upping the amount of water after aerating decomposed most thatch. More money and the lawns absolutly blew away everyone elses. De thatching is very labor intensive and produces relativly little result. If your gonna charge someone..take the smae time and improve the lawn..not just remove crap.

Craig3
09-10-2009, 01:14 AM
I can't imagine getting more than a small pickup load out of a 10k lawn. The only reason I mentioned SOME of it getting mowed back into the grass is because the blower isn't going to get that clean.

mowing might be necessary to give it a clean level look?

Stillwater
09-10-2009, 01:41 AM
If your gonna charge someone..take the smae time and improve the lawn..not just remove crap.


That's what dethatching does......

Smallaxe
09-10-2009, 07:42 AM
mowing might be necessary to give it a clean level look?

Most likely...

mdlwn1
09-10-2009, 08:19 PM
That's what dethatching does......

Growing grass as a plant is obv way above your head to make a post like that. What you read my post and were itching for something to knock? Lol...you just really have no idea.

dasjuice
11-11-2009, 09:21 PM
I use a Jrco front mount tine rake dethatcher. cost a few hundred bucks and installs on lots of mowers very easy. mow with the bagger on after dethatch.

Runner
11-11-2009, 11:59 PM
And this is fine for what it does,...it just doesn't do an ACTUAL dethatching. Now,....let's look back in this thread a bit where someone mentioned that they haven't had a need for it. This is more the situation for most cases. The JRCO? It does rake overs, and removes some (most) of the dead grass on the soil surface (not actual thatch). However, there is nothing that does it better and more productively than the JRCO rake. In most cases, this is all a lawn actually needs - and in many cases a true dethatching - if not absolutely needed, of course does more damage than benefit.

Smallaxe
11-12-2009, 09:00 AM
I still contend, that the dead grass should be considered as nutrients and ground cover, rather than a hazardous waste. Applying high energy topdressings or compost should speed the decomposition and recycle the nutrients.

Barefoot James
11-12-2009, 11:55 PM
The best dethatcher is the Lawn Solutions Turf Revitalizer. The 30 inch unit will do an acre in under and hour. You boys need to get one - BTW they power seed too:laugh::laugh::laugh:
Mine made over 35K this year and over 100K in the last three. Pretty good for a 3500 investment.

lawnproslawncare
11-13-2009, 01:04 AM
What about a power broom on the mower...I'm debating switching to one for my new walker i might get

Smallaxe
11-13-2009, 07:39 AM
What about a power broom on the mower...I'm debating switching to one for my new walker i might get

What is a power broom on a mower? The spring attached to the blades? :)

lawnproslawncare
11-14-2009, 12:22 AM
Its a sweeper broom, people use them for snow sometimes?

Smallaxe
11-14-2009, 09:16 AM
OK, I got one of those with a thatcher that scrapes along in front of it to pick up pine needles over large areas.

ecoguy
11-24-2009, 10:09 PM
There's a ton of lawn moss on the yards here in the West Coast so a 10k yard would take 3-4 hours to remove all the heavy moss off the yard. And that's with the rake flying...

Infinity Landscapes, Inc
11-29-2009, 09:22 PM
scalp it,
areate
thatch
mow it again
slice seed
light clean up

MapleGuy
01-26-2010, 10:26 PM
We use the dethatch attachment for the Walker mower. Attaches easily to the front of the deck and is as easy as mowing the lawn. We usually go back over a second time without the dethatcher on just to pick up the rest of the thatch and give it a clean striped look.

FDambr123
03-20-2010, 09:42 AM
I've been detaching my customers now for about 3 years. I read in an earlier post that another person doesn't find it necessary to detach lawns and hasn't done so in years. Although it isn't necessary I've notice drastic improvements on lawns after a thoroughly detaching properties. I find it very healthy for a lawn and improves the lawn, making it denser and a lot more healthier. I personally detach my own property every year and suggest people do the same. Although there might not be much tach build up, it is a nice spring wakening or fall time to seed. Just follow up with an application of fertilizer and you will see great results.

betmr
03-20-2010, 10:51 AM
Yeah, I thought it was said aeration is the best of the options for turf. Cheapest and simplest as well. You want to do more work to charge the client more - well - many of us don't play that way.

Just my opinion: I don't feel Aeration is the best way to De-Thatch. I think a Vertical mower is better suited for Thatch removal.

BLC1
03-23-2010, 07:45 PM
Man, after reading this my head is spinning. Seems a like a bunch of different ways to go. I have a lot of customers asking me to dethatch this year due to heavy snow and everybody has snow mold or grass all matted down. I was thinking running something like a jrco rake through it would due wonders and then aerate when it starts growing. A lot of my lawns have gated back yards. Do they make a 36" jrco you can put on a walk behind?

JRCO
03-24-2010, 10:44 AM
Do they make a 36" jrco you can put on a walk behind?

Yes, we do. Which walkbehind mower do you have? We can fit most of them.

Bill

BLC1
03-24-2010, 12:01 PM
I have a yazoo/kees

PrestigeLawnscape
03-26-2010, 07:41 PM
I built a thatcher that goes on the front of my machine, its easy and quick because it dethatches it and bags it, but thats if you have a machine that bags.

shooterm
03-27-2010, 01:06 AM
How often do you guys dethatch I thought it was just a spring fling?