Power rake vs Aerator : What do you need?

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The key to a great-looking lawn is proper lawn care which means having the right lawn maintenance tools.

And while lawn maintenance tools such as a lawn mower are a must-have, there is often a debate when it comes to two equipment: Power rake vs Aerator.

But why does the power raking vs aeration question arise?

Well, it’s simply because both aerating and power raking gets rid of thatch- the layer of decomposed/organic matter that accumulates between the top soil and the base of your grass plants.

Now, whether you’re new to lawn care or a veteran who is not familiar with these two lawn care tools, you probably have questions about the best tool to use for a healthy and well-maintained lawn.

So, where should your money go?

Below we will explain it all to help you make an informed choice.

Power rake vs Aerator : An in-depth comparison

We shall begin by looking at what each tool is purposed for..

What does a power rake do?

A power rake simply removes thatch and can be a great option for lawns with a thicker, denser mat of dead matter.

The machine (typically about the size of a regular push mower) features mechanical flails that it uses to rigorously dig thatch out of the yard.

Note that power rakes – they’re essentially electric rakes- tend to more heavy-duty than lawn aerators making them more suited for commercial jobs, especially for large areas.

When to power rake

Power raking is generally the more aggressive method of removing thatch from your lawn.

That being the case, it is best to use a power rake only when either or both of the following is true:

  • You have an expansive area of grass/turf with a thicker thatch layer (over ½” thick).
  • You have failed to dethatch the yard for a long time (a couple of years).

Remember that some thatch can be advantageous to your lawn but too much material (to reiterate, thicker than ½”) blocks essentials such as air, water, nutrients, and more from seeping into the soil.

This necessitates its removal.

What does an aerator do?

An aerator literary perforates the soil to relieve compaction –it creates tiny holes to allow water, air, and nutrients to smoothly reach grass roots.

Additionally, aeration helps hastens the decomposition of thatch buried underneath the grass surface.

Ultimately, this helps the roots grow again vigorously and can lead to the development of a stronger, more robust lawn.

I should add that there are two main types of aerators: core (plug) and spike aerators.

If you’re not aware of their difference, core aerators pull out small soil plugs to the surface while spike aerators reduce thatch and compaction by simply poking holes (in the ground).

To facilitate the aeration process, spike aerator has sharp tines that penetrate the ground to poke holes while plug aerators have hollow tines that perforate the core to removes plugs of soil.

In general, spike aerators work best for small yards with just mild compaction while their counterparts (plug aerators) are designed to fix severe compaction issues on large lawns.

When to aerate

The greatest disadvantage of power raking is that it is too cruel on grass and it may end up damaging the yard by removing a great deal of your living turf!

In contrast, core aeration pulls out slim plugs from the lawn to ease compaction and dislodge thatch.

The fact is, core aeration usually causes reduced damage to the lawn than power raking because it is not as invasive.

For this reason, your lawn is likely to be healthier by the time you’re done with an aerator.

Recall that the removed plugs have a tendency to decompose naturally (in a few weeks) so the process actually increases your soil’s nutrients.

In short, we suggest you go for a core aerator if:

  • You have a yard that requires dethatching (thatch should not be more than 1/2” thick) and is also troubled by compaction problems.

The long and the short of it is that core aeration is perhaps the best practice for most lawn owners- it not only helps make irrigation more efficient but it also greatly improves the penetration of indispensables like pesticides.

Power rake vs Aerator : useful tips

The best season to power rake

If you’re growing cool season grass, it is recommended you power rake during early fall/spring.

On the other hand, it is best to power rake warm season grasses in the period between late spring to around early summer.

It is also important to ensure 30 days (at least) of growing season will be available after power raking to achieve successful results.

The best time to aerate

The ideal time to aerate your yard is in the course of the growing season.

This is because the grass usually heals and fills in any areas left open (after the removal of soil plugs) in periods of vibrant growth and not when dormant.

To be clear, you should aerate your cool season grass (if this is your grass of choice) in early spring/fall and your warm season grass -if this is the case- in late spring.

How to reduce damage if power raking

You can minimize damage to your grass by being careful on the job if you choose to power rake

The chore is particularly effective if combined with overseeding because it opens your lawn surface, allowing new seed to get well established.

Keep in mind that if you’re planning to fertilize your lawn, it is best to do so with your broadcast/drop spreader before overseeding.

Wrapping it up

The biggest take away from our Power rake vs Aerator comparison guide is this:

A power rake is considered extremely hostile to the grass and is only an option for lawns that have thicker thatch (over ½” thick).

On the other hand, the aeration is kinder on grass and the tool of choice most of the time. The only exception is in the case of excessively overgrown thatch.

Choose wisely.

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