What the most profitable way to dethatch?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Tonychic, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. Tonychic

    Tonychic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    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.


    ARC Services
  2. KGR landscapeing

    KGR landscapeing LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,544

    Power rake then suck it up with a zturn with a bagger
  3. Tonychic

    Tonychic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    Won't that just push the thatch back down into the ground?
  4. bigslick7878

    bigslick7878 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 809

    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.
  5. Tonychic

    Tonychic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    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.
  6. fishfacejr2

    fishfacejr2 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    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 :)
  7. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

  8. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

    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.
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    *** "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.
  10. Tonychic

    Tonychic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    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?

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