FOCUS ON: Power Rakes & Verticutters

Thatch causes a multitude of problems from puffiness and scalping to poor water penetration to increased pest and disease levels in turf. Power rakes and verticutters are amongst your best choices when it comes to thatch control. The following product profiles provide some great power rake and verticutter options. If you need more information, visit the company web site links that accompany each profile.

Billy Goat Industries, Inc., offers CR and PR Series power rakes that are engineered with fewer parts and less hardware mounted to a heavy-duty steel deck. These rakes are designed to reduce noise, vibration and maintenance. They utilize flail knives that are heat treated and tempered — not case-hardened — to resist breakage, and greasable pillow-block bearings — instead of flange bearings — for added durability. A new overseeding kit is also available.

The BlueBird P18 Lawn Comber features a modular platform that can be configured to a lawn comber, seeder or lawn comber with rear catcher bag to collect thatch. Each unit features an interchangeable flail or a Delta blade with slicing reels that conform to various grass and soil conditions. The P18 can cover an 18-inch swath in one pass. The ergonomically designed handle with padded grips is comfortable and reduces fatigue. Engine options include 5.5- or 8-hp Briggs & Stratton or 5.5-hp Honda engine.

The Classen Model TR-20 Turf Rake is compact, with a 20-inch dethatcher and folding handle. It features 28 heat-treated flail blades and a five-position, single-action height adjustment. Choose from a 5.5-hp Honda or 5.5-hp Briggs & Stratton engine that will power through thick thatch to promote deep root growth. The TR-20 changes into three different units in minutes: a dethatcher with catcher bag, vertical slicer or turf seeder.

The Dakota Dethatcher 72 is a pull-type unit for light or heavy dethatching. It has a working width of 72 inches, with 84 spring tines that spin and pull the thatch out while following the ground contour. The dethatcher requires a 40-plus-hp tractor to pull it.

Encore's Power-Comb and Power-Thatch have shaft assemblies that use the same machine housing and are interchangeable. The Power-Comb is specially designed to pass over underground sprinkler heads without damage and “comb” new turf and tender grass varieties. A standard Power-Comb has 24 tines, and optional hardware increases the shaft to 48 tines. The Power-Thatch features 28 self-cleaning flail-type fingers, and blade spacing adjusts from 11/16 inch to 1 ⅜ inches over a 20-inch path.

Grasshopper's front-mounted 48- and 60-inch Tine-Rake dethatchers are designed for Grasshopper True ZeroTurn outfront power units. Spring steel, double-looped tines remove thatch and surface aerate soil. And optional PowerVac collection system lets you vacuum debris at the same time you rake/dethatch.

The John Deere 3215B and 3235B Lightweight Fairway Mowers equipped with standard cutting units can be equipped with standard vertical cutting units that provide a tool for thatch and grain control on fairways. The units are equipped with 27 hardened blades, nine teeth per blade. ESP vertical cutting units are also designed for the 3225B and 3235B Lightweight Fairway Mowers. These 22-inch units will perform thatch removal and vertical cutting of above-ground horizontal growth.

Vertical Mower Reels are a featured option on Jacobsen riding and walk-behind greens mowers, tri-plex mowers and fairway mowers. Using the vertical cutting option on greens, fairways and sports fields promotes healthier turf by reducing thatch build-up and allowing nutrients, air and moisture easy access to the plant-growth area.

JRCO Tine Rake front-mount dethatchers are available in 36-, 46- and 60-inch widths for commercial mowers. Tine Rake saves time and labor for spring clean-up, allowing you to remove embedded leaves and thatch in one operation while mowing. The rake combs and lifts matted turfgrass, leaving a striped, hand-raked appearance. In the fall, use Tine Rake to clean up embedded leaves and lawn debris.

Mathews Company offers three models of the Flail Pick-Up Mower that can be used to verticut turf. The LG 48 (48-inch) is a pull-type unit with a 16-hp Vanguard motor. The 60FP (60-inch) and 72FP (72-inch) are both three-point tractor-mounted units with PTO drive. All three models will verticut and remove the thatch all in one pass.

The Ryan Ren-O-Thin features four interchangeable reels and a simple-to-operate height adjustment that can be tailored to meet a variety of dethatching requirements. With a 7-hp Briggs & Stratton engine, the Ren-O-Thin has the power to tackle tough dethatching and power raking jobs while delivering years of

The Yazoo/Kees Power Rake can be used for combing, raking and slicing with just a simple change of the shaft configuration. The standard rake has 28 hardened steel flail-type fingers to rake and remove dead, lawn-choking thatch. An optional slice assembly has 20 steel blades that slice, tine and aerate any type of turf. The Power Rake is powered by a 5.5-hp Briggs & Stratton Intek OHV engine.


Thatch is an intermingled organic layer of dead and living shoots, stems and roots that develops between the green vegetation and the soil surface. Thatch has a high lignin content and resists microbial breakdown.

Source: Curtis Swift, area extension agent (horticulture), Colorado State University Cooperative Extension.


Thatch and mat can provide an ideal environment for turf damaging insects such as white grubs and billbugs that feed beneath these layers and sod webworms that nest in the thatch layer. Thatch is also reported to attract chinch bugs.


Chinch bugs
Sod webworms
Fiery skipper
Bluegrass weevils

Source: Curtis Swift, area extension agent (horticulture), Colorado State University Cooperative Extension.

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