Why Your Lawn Looks Bad After Dethatching (Reasons and Effective Fixes)

A thicker thatch is problematic to your lawn and needs dethatching. But as it turns out, dethatching can sometimes be your lawn’s worst nightmare. Ever wondered why your lawn looks bad after dethatching? If yes, don’t get depressed. You’re not alone.

Dethatching can be traumatic for your lawn, especially when done incorrectly. It can leave the grass looking rugged or create brown spots. So, why does your lawn look like a mess after dethatching? Read on to understand the reasons and know what you can do.

Reasons for Lawns Looking Bad After Dethatching

To some extent, a dethatched lawn will look terrible. It’s no wonder landscaping professionals recommend “treating” lawns after dethatching.

But you might realize your lawn looks more terrible than it should. If that’s the case, below are the reasons for the bad appearance:

Using the Wrong Tool

The tool used to dethatch can significantly affect the lawn’s appearance. Whether a dethatching rake, power rake, or tine rake dethatcher, it’s necessary to consider the tool your lawn needs.

For example, a thatch layer less than 1/2” requires a different tool from a layer that’s 3/4”. Using a tool meant for a thicker thatch than you have will result in a messy lawn. The tool might remove all the thatch and hurt the living grass and its roots.

Similarly, using a tool meant for a thin thatch layer than you have can leave you with a bad-looking lawn. It leaves dead grass scattered unevenly. So, avoid using a power rake to dethatch a lawn that requires a tine rake dethatcher, and vice versa.

Wrong Weather

It’s always wise to wait for the suitable weather or season to dethatch your lawn. You should wait until you have moderately wet soil and the grass is actively growing.

Dethatching during the rainy season can damage the grass. The soil might be excessively wet, causing your dethatching tool to pull out the grass.

Conversely, dethatching when it’s sweltering hot, especially in mid to late summer, can harm your lawn. Lawns require time and ideal conditions to recover after dethatching. High temperatures and insufficient water will prevent it from recovering, causing it to look bad.

The Lawn Is Dormant

As mentioned earlier, you should dethatch your lawn when it’s actively growing. If you dethatch when it’s dormant, it will not recover from the damages done.

Your grass will enter dormancy in late fall and sometimes early winter. If you dethatch during this time, any damage caused might lead to brown spots or swaths of dead grass.

Also, dethatching in early spring is not advisable since the grass is still dormant. If you dethatch, you might encourage unwanted seeds on the lawn to germinate. The germinating seeds might cause weed infestation, making your yard look ugly.

The Lawn Had Other Issues Before

If your lawn looks bad after dethatching, it might have had a disease, a growth, or a nutrient issue before. These issues might exacerbate the problems that arise after dethatching. For example, if the dethatching machine injures the grass or roots, the disease will weaken or cause your lawn to die.

Therefore, regularly checking your lawn for pests, diseases, and nutrient problems is necessary. If your grass doesn’t look healthy, give it the necessary care. You can dethatch it once it regains its health.

Fixes for a Lawn That Looks Terrible After Dethatching

Aftercare is always necessary after dethatching the lawn. Even if it looks damaged, some care and maintenance can help it recover quickly. Below are the best ways to fix a lawn after dethatching:

Rake Out Any Remaining Thatch

Did you use the wrong dethatching tool that left dead grass scattered around your lawn? If so, remove the dead grass with a rake for a clean yard.

Dead grass might also suffocate the grass underneath, causing further damage. After raking out the scattered thatch, take it to a yard waste bag or a compost pile.

Water the Lawn

Thatch keeps the soil humid by preventing excess evaporation. After dethatching, the soil has less protection against the sun. As a result, your lawn requires plenty of water to recover from damages that resulted from dethatching. Since it’s not the rainy season, you’ll need to irrigate your lawn more often to keep it moist.

Water your lawn slowly and deeply. Use a garden hose with a spray nozzle and ensure you’re watering evenly.


Adding nutrients to a dethatched lawn can help it heal faster. If you’ve not applied fertilizer recently, it’s time to add more. Use a slow-release fertilizer with nitrogen or urea. It would be best to fertilize before winter since the lawn will enter dormancy.


Aerating after dethatching lawn can help water, air, and nutrients to seep easily into the soil. It helps the weakened grass to recover faster while promoting deep rooting. If you have patchy spots, you’ll encourage the existing grass to grow thicker.

You need the right tools to aerate your lawn to avoid harming the grass. Below are the common aerating equipment used:

  • Spike aerators such as spiked aerator sandals, spading forks, or pitchforks.
  • Slicing aerators
  • Core or plug aerators


Overseeding is a great way to revive your lawn in areas that look unhealthy or with patches. Before you overseed, test the soil to determine which seeds will do better. If possible, use seeds that are disease-resistant and germinate faster.

Spread the seeds on the affected areas and water your lawn. These seeds will germinate faster and outcompete any weed seeds. Alternatively, dig up grass plugs from other areas of your yard and replant them in patchy spots.


Can dethatching hurt your lawn?

Dethatching can hurt your lawn when done in winter or early spring. At this time, the lawn is dormant and may not recover from any damage caused. Similarly, dethatching during the rainy seasons can pull out grass, especially when the soil is excessively wet.

How long does it take for a lawn to recover after dethatching?

A lawn takes about 3-4 weeks to recover after dethatching. Ensure to provide your lawn with dethatching aftercare, such as aerating, watering, fertilizing, and overseeding. These methods should help speed up the recovery process.

Should I sweep my lawn after dethatching?

You should sweep your lawn after dethatching by gently raking out any newly exposed thatch. Alternatively, mow the lawn and attach a lawn sweeper to remove any thatch and other clippings.

Final Thoughts

Wrong timing or using the wrong tool is probably why your lawn looks bad after dethatching. If your lawn is unhealthy or has nutrient issues, dethatching can trigger other issues like patchy or brown spots. Thankfully, you can help your lawn recover faster by incorporating aftercare. You can fix your dethatched lawn through watering, fertilizing, overseeding, and aeration.