Clarification between power raking and dethatching needed

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by bill8379, Mar 7, 2008.

  1. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    There is a difference, a big difference between dethatching and power raking. For clarity, I define power raking as using spring tines set at the highest level you can set them on a BlueBird or Husky power rake. No thatch is removed at all, just a thinning of the matted cool weather grass BEFORE it turns into thatch.

    This just thins out dead debris and improves surface air flow for new grass seedlings to grow and become established in the lawn. I did a 4k lawn today. The lawn looks great, but I pulled out about ten bags of dead grass in the process. No thatch was pulled up at all. It's like using a leaf rake... no more aggressive than that, but faster and more thorough, obviously.

    I agree that dethatching is not something that should be done but rarely, and only when the thatch layer has gooten too thick and impenatrable causing undue stress to the turf.... but a non-invasive power raking that does not put tines within a half inch of the thatch is a reasonable yearly maintenance operation that will promote healthy turf.

    My program consists of a light spring power raking and a fall aeration. Fall overseeding as well, when conditions justify it. There is nothing unethical about it at all. Calling it so, even with innuendo is pretty bogus. You want unethical? How about a lime application without a pH test.
  2. turfcobob

    turfcobob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 878

    Ok sit back relax and read.
    Power Raking and Dethatching are one in the same just different words for the same mechanical operation. That is the use of a flail, spring or some other for giving tine on a lawn. Both words have been badly mis-used over the years. A machine that has forgiving tines and will just work at the top layer of the thatch is usually refered to as a Power Rake or Dethatcher. The tines fold back or give way when used in really heavy conditions. Thatch should be removed when it gets to more than 3/8 of an inch in northern or cool season grasses. Warm season grasses such as St Augustine can live easily with much more. Blue and Fescue no they need to breathe. I would not dethatch or remove this canopy if it is less than 3/8. I would just aerate the lawn with much better results. The hammer actions or flail or spring tines tends to damage the nodes on the plants and will actually do more harm than good if you are just trying to "Fluff" the top surface.
    Now to clear up the confusion.
    When you use fixed blades or knife blades that do not forgive you are Slicing or Vert-i-cutting. This is when you will cut through the top layer or organic material and into the soil or mineral layer. The blades are on much wider spacing usually 1.5 inches or more and fixed so they slice through removing less thatch. This type of cutting action will cut through the runners and nodes and actually stimulate more growth with the cutting action. It also does a much better job of venting the soil as it leaves a clean trench through the organic layer or Thatch.

    I hope this clears some of the fog. Simply put Dethating and Power Raking are the same thing and Vert-i-cutting or slicing are the same. One damages the turf plant and one helps the turf plant.

    Got more questions drop me a note
  3. earthandturf

    earthandturf LawnSite Member
    Messages: 57

    I'm going to have a big problem with snow mold this spring, would it be advisable to use a dethatcher set so that I don't dig down and just fluff the grass?
  4. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    Thanks for the disortation, but you are missing my point entirely. I know what dethatching is. If no thatch is removed, you still want to call it dethatching? What do you ant to call using spring tines that do no dethatching at all? That is how I use my power rake. The tines never touch the thatch layer. The tines are set to remain 1/2" above the thatch. They only touch top growth, dead top growth at that. The debris that comes up is 95% dead grass, 5% viable living grass. No dirt, no thatch.... just very lightweight fluffy dead grass, including dead crabgrass and other weeds from last season.

    Once I've used my WB with grass catcher, the lawn looks fine. The turf's root system has not been disturbed at all. Matted winter kill has been removed, that's all.

    I would not dethatch any lawn that wasn't being seriously renovated. What I am doing I refuse to call dethatching.... because it isn't dethatching. This is the part you seem to be misunderstanding. If one is not removing any thatch whatsoever, it isn't dethatching now, is it?
  5. turfcobob

    turfcobob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 878

    I would call what you are doing a waste of time, gas and machinery. You can do that with spring tines on the front of a riding mower. To be exact Power Rake was a name penned by the National Manufacturing company for a Dethatching machine and was later sold to the Ryan Company of Lincoln, Nebraska. Product was discontinued in favor of the Renothin that can be a dethatcher (power rake) or a verticut depending on the blades used. So Power Rake was a distortion of the term Dethatching. Dethatching is the removal of thatch from a turf area.
  6. bill8379

    bill8379 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 778

    Hey Whitey (if that's your real name) I had a terrible time changing oil in my power rake so I ended up doing this. I'm not sure if you have the same set up as mine but I couldn't change oil with out making a huge mess so I stuck this tube into the engine. I leave it there so I can properly pour oil out.

    power rake fitting 31k.jpg
  7. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    You are entitled to your opinion.... one that apparently is driven by the sole purpose of pushing your equipmet over others to the point you call any type of renovation whatever that is not done by one of YOUR machines as a waste of time, gasoline, and even calling it unethical. Not that I owe you any explanation, but I handle small properties... any riding mower with tines is too large for my gate sizes.

    Aren't YOU the company that volunteered to visit a customer in MA that was having problems with THREE of your blessed machines, only to repeatedly cancel on them? If you want to give another disortation on ethics, spend about an hour talking to the mirror, Jack. Ripping people who use competitor's products here isn't going to make you any friends or sell any more of your machines. Go start yer own thread if all you can do is rip people and accuse them of being unethical. Last year I rented a BlueBird, and my Zoysia lawns LOVED this treatment. You can yap until your face turns blue, but I KNOW that what I am doing improves the turf I service.

    Get off yout high horse and find somewhere else to sell your machines, please? I can tell you this... I WAS considering a Turfco product in a year or two. No more. Good job. Stop polluting this thread with your own self serving agenda. Rant over. Now shut up.

    Bill, my last name is White... so Whitey is one of a couple of nicknames I have. It fits... white hair, Irish skin... sorta like Whitey Ford!

    I only have about 2 hours on this machine so far, so I haven't changed the oil yet. This is a thread I will bookmark for us BlueBird-Husky ownwers, if we can keep the riff raff out of it. How exactly did you install that? I find it difficult to check the oil level with the way the dip stick is set up. I won't have to do an oil change until my spring treatments are done. I'll want to change it before the fall over seeding season approaches though.

    Can you give me any more info on how you did this mod? Thanks.

  8. bill8379

    bill8379 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 778

    I don't even have a dip stick on my machine. When I unscrew that plastic thing (If I remember right) you should be able to see the oil. I think I fill it up till I could see it.. it's been a while, almost a year since I looked at the machine. We still have a couple feet of snow here.

    Anyway, when you take out the metal plug oil just spill everywhere, I mean look where it is:laugh:

    I took out the oil plug, took it with me to Home Depot and I think I found those parts in the plumbing section. I made sure to get the right size and thread etc. They also sell those brass caps for the end of the tube. When I change oil now I just unscrew that cap and the oil flows out the tube and then I can funnel it into an empty bottle. Less then $5 and no mess, I got the idea from the mechanic section here.

    Another thing is once you drained the oil completely, have a plastic jug with the ounces marked out and fill that up with oil to the proper amount for whatever machine. Then dump it into the machine, it's already pre-measured. I also find it hard to fill up machines to the proper level until I did this. Especially when you have to pour the oil down the same spout as the dip stick in mowers.

    I just thought of something, look at your Quick, it has a rubber tube for draining oil or at least they used to. My power rake thing is the same Idea but I use a brass tube.
  9. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    Yes, my Quick is conveniently outfitted with a tube for draining the oil, much like what you did on the BlueBird. The Husky does have a dip stick on that plastic cap, but the oil is indeed filled right to overflow at the spigot.

    I sometimes wish they put a dye in oil... clean oil is hard to read, especially off this machine. What you did makes too much sense.... LOL... I will see what I can jury rig in a similar fashion. I wonder if the Quick tube has the same thread size as my Husky? That would be too easy...
  10. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    Keep us posted on the Quick mower drain tube compatibility. It's very likely it's the same pipe threads and you could probably order out the assembly straight from Gary and save all the foot work.

    I just received my Honda powered S22 Bluebird seeder today and it's still in the box. Also I have a spring tine bar and a separate flail bar for low depth tilling :laugh: and a complete replacement set of spring tines. Turf is still way to wet here and matted for any power anything - many areas still have spring corn snow. Established grass is beginning to push out a bit of early spring growth. Overnight temps are blow freezing still. The lake is still frozen but ice fishing is over. Been on dead run here getting ready for the season.


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