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7 Best Electric Dethatchers in 2021

A homeowner using an electric dethatcher to remove brown, dead grass.

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If your lawn has started taking on a brownish shade with patchy new growth, you’re likely dealing with excessive thatch.

While a light thatch layer is no problem at all, too much can spell suffocation and discoloration for your lawn. So it’s got to go, and an electric dethatching machine is a perfect solution.

An electric dethatcher uses a small motor to rotate a cylinder of thin tines or solid blades to remove surface debris and overgrown thatch. The dethatcher digs underneath the matted thatch, overturning it and bringing it to the top of the grass. Removing the thatch barrier allows for more air, moisture, sunlight and nutrients to reach your grass root system for a healthier, greener lawn.

Today, you’ll learn the details of 7 of our choices for the best electric dethatcher. You’ll also learn the difference in some terminology along with the answers to some common questions.

Let’s get started!

RELATED: Dethatchers aren’t the only electric tools for keeping your yard looking sharp. Check out our reviews of electric lawn mowers with self-propel to learn more!

What is Thatch?

First of all, let’s define the terms you’ll read about in this article.

The term “thatch” is commonly used to describe the build-up of old grass clippings, decaying leaf bits and other organic matter. Basically the brown, dead grass you see when looking into your lawn.

However, all those things are actually just surface debris. The actual definition of thatch is the layer of matted grass roots that sits under the surface of the soil.

Here’s a picture from the University of Idaho that shows what actual thatch looks like.

To remove thatch, you would need a tool that digs down into the soil, slices through root clumps and turns them up to the soil surface.

That being said, most dethatchers out on the market don’t really remove true thatch.

Types of Dethatchers

There are two tools we’ll be talking about that remove thatch (and the surface debris so commonly referred to as thatch):

  • Dethatcher
  • Scarifier

Both of these can be necessary to achieving and maintaining a healthy lawn, and there’s a lot of overlap as to what each one does:

A dethatcher uses spring-pin tines to loosen and remove surface debris (old grass clippings and other organic material). It might remove about 1/16 of an inch of actual thatch, but not much more. This is perfect for rejuvenating your lawn on an annual or bi-annual basis, and it’s usually pretty gentle on your lawn.

A scarifier uses blades that dig into the upper layers of the soil up to 1 inch deep. They slice through roots and cut, or “scar” the ground, bringing up a lot of debris and matted thatch in the process. Scarifying is a more intense process, and it’s ideal for when you also want to apply new grass seed and fertilizer to your lawn.

Both dethatchers and scarifiers fall under the larger “dethatching” umbrella, so we’ll be looking at models that offer both features here on this list. Also, a couple of models offer an aerator option, so let’s define that too:

An aerator uses spikes to poke holes into the soil, increasing surface area and allowing for better airflow to your grass root system.

Now let’s get into the review!

1. Sun Joe AJ805E Electric Scarifier + Lawn Dethatcher

**Best Overall Dethatcher

Sun Joe AJ805E Electric Scarifier + Lawn Dethatcher
  • Power source: Corded electric
  • Working width: 15 inches
  • Motor output: 13 amps
  • Weight: 24 pounds
  • Dimensions: Not stated
  • Number of tines/blades: 13 scarifier blades and 32 dethatcher tines
  • Tine/blade material: Steel
  • Collection bag: Yes, 13.2 gallons
  • Adjustable working depth: Yes, 5 settings
  • Collapsible for storage: Yes
  • Warranty: 2-year limited warranty

This model from Sun Joe comes in as our top pick for the best electric lawn dethatcher. With the option to use it as either a scarifier or a dethatcher, you can perform intensive deep-cleaning jobs or routine maintenance to keep your yard looking top-notch with routine maintenance.

For working width, this model offers a wide 15-inch deck for getting the job done in the minimum number of passes and less time.

In addition to the wide working width, we also like that Sun Joe packed 13 scarifier blades and 32 dethatcher tines onto the cylinders. This construction picks up a huge amount of old thatch and surface debris, and the AirBoost technology improves motor efficiency with every revolution.

Also, it’s easy to swithch between the scarifier and dethatcher cylinders with just a simple socket wrench to loosen/tighten two bolts.

You have 5 height settings to choose from, ranging from -0.4 inches to +0.2 inches. The adjustment lever is conveniently located on the side of the deck, and has the style of a car gear-shifter, so it’s easy to grasp.

You have a generously-sized 13.2-gallon capacity collection bag to catch all the debris and thatch you pull up. But even though the bag is quite large, it will probably still fill up quickly given the strong motor and wide deck size.

One potential problem is that the plastic housing that secures the back flap closed seems to be a weak point that can be prone to snapping. Most people don’t run into this problem, though, and it only comes into play when you use the dethatcher without the collection bag attached.

Pros

  • Options for scarifying and dethatching
  • Robust motor
  • 15 inches of working width
  • Large collection bag
  • AirBoost technology for increased dethatching efficiency

Cons

  • Rear flap securing pin may malfunction

2. Earthwise DT71613 Corded Electric Dethatcher

Earthwise DT71613 Corded Electric Dethatcher
  • Power source: Corded electric
  • Working width: 16 inches
  • Motor output: 13 amps
  • Weight: 33.1 pounds
  • Dimensions: 40 inches long, 24 inches wide and 43 inches tall
  • Number of tines/blades: 45 spring-pin tines
  • Tine/blade material: Zinc-plated piano wire
  • Collection bag: Yes, 10-gallon
  • Adjustable working depth: Yes, 5 settings
  • Collapsible for storage: Yes
  • Warranty: 2-year limited warranty

At 16 inches wide, this Earthwise dethatcher produces a generous cutting path that could shave some serious time off your dethatching task. Which is always a plus! And 13 amps of power should let you get through dense grass without too much trouble.

Instead of standard tines, Earthwise went with narrow wire-style pins and packed 45 on them onto the rotating shaft. This construction is great for digging into dense thatch and pulling it to the surface.

Five working depth settings let you find the one that’s just right for your lawn, ranging from -0.4 inches all the way to +0.4 inches.

Although you can certainly use this dethatcher for a small lawn, it’s also fully capable of handling areas in the medium to large range.

One downside we have to point out is the total weight. At 33.1 pounds, this is the heaviest option on our list, which makes it a little harder to move around.

However, there’s also has a positive side to this: The extra weight creates more downward pressure, helping you to dig into the thatch more deeply.

Pros

  • Powerful motor and wide working path
  • Thin wires easily dig into compressed thatch
  • Five deck height settings
  • Great for medium/large lawns

Cons

  • Heavy

3. Greenworks 27022 Corded Dethatcher

Greenworks 27022 Corded Dethatcher
  • Power source: Corded electric (40V battery model also available)
  • Working width: 14 inches
  • Motor output: 10 amps
  • Weight: 25.92 pounds
  • Dimensions: 37.8 inches long, 22.83 inches wide and 44.09 inches tall
  • Number of tines or blades: 18 tines
  • Tine/blade material: Stainless steel
  • Collection bag: No
  • Adjustable working depth: Yes, 3 settings
  • Collapsible for storage: Yes
  • Warranty: 3-year limited warranty

Don’t let the size fool you! Despite the small frame and lightweight construction, this Greenworks dethatcher is surprisingly powerful and durable.

The compact size also makes it easy to control and maneuver your dethatcher while you work. Even if you have decreased strength or are a senior, you should be able to use it comfortably.

One of the best things about electric power tools is that they’re easy to start, and this one is no exception. The motor fires on with the push of a button, and the forward rotation of the tines is actually enough to pull the dethatcher along almost on its own. The fully padded handlebar is also a nice touch for comfort while you work.

The tine height comes pre-set at 10mm or 3/8 inch. This is the highest of the three settings, which should be perfectly fine for most people. If you’d prefer, you can also lower the deck to one of two other settings. The adjustment mechanism is a rotating lug located on the wheel hub, so it’s easy to make the switch between settings when needed.

But one thing we don’t like about this height adjustment is that Greenworks doesn’t state what the lower height settings are, so it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting. However, as we mentioned above, the 3/8 inch setting should be universally effective.

Greenworks also makes a 40V battery-powered option with the same 14-inch working width and 30-minute run time per charge. It’s a nice alternative to having a cord, but it is significantly more expensive.

Pros

  • Great performance
  • Small size is easy to handle
  • Adjustable deck height
  • Lightweight construction
  • Padded handlebar

Cons

  • The lower height settings are not listed

4. Sun Joe AJ798E Electric Scarifier + Lawn Dethatcher

Sun Joe AJ798E Electric Scarifier + Lawn Dethatcher
  • Power source: Corded electric
  • Working width: 13 inches
  • Motor output: 12 amps
  • Weight: 21 pounds
  • Dimensions: 41 inches long, 16.7 inches wide and 23.2 inches tall
  • Number of tines/blades: 11 scarifier blades and 28 dethatcher tines
  • Tine/blade material: Steel
  • Collection bag: Yes, 8 gallons
  • Adjustable working depth: Yes, 5 settings
  • Collapsible for storage: Yes
  • Warranty: 2-year limited warranty

This one has several features in common with the other Sun Joe model we looked at in spot #1:

  1. AirBoost technology
  2. Scarifier/dethatcher cylinders
  3. 5 height settings with the same adjustment mechanism
  4. 2-year warranty

But there are enough differences between the two options to warrant a separate mention for this model.

The Sun Joe AJ798E is the newer version of the Sun Joe AJ801E, which is a fan favorite with thousands of happy users. So what’s better about this new model? Let’s break it down:

  • 12-amp motor here vs 11.5 amps in the AJ801E.
  • Deck height adjuster handle is higher off the deck and easier to grasp.
  • This model is 2 pounds lighter than the AJ801E (21 pounds vs 23 pounds)

You have 5 height settings to choose from, ranging from -0.4 inches to +0.2 inches, and the adjustment lever is easy to access on the side of the deck.

One thing that’s a bit disappointing about this model is the small bag, with just 8 gallons of capacity. Especially with a 13-inch working width and 12-amp motor, you’ll probably be emptying the bag every couple of minutes. In fact, it might be easier to just leave the bag off altogether.

Pros

  • AirBoost technology makes for high efficiency
  • Scarifier and dethatcher options
  • Powerful motor
  • Affordable price point
  • Easy to adjust 5 height settings

Cons

  • Small collection bag

5. LawnMaster GV1314 Scarifier and Lawn Dethatcher

LawnMaster GV1314 Scarifier and Lawn Dethatcher
  • Power source: Corded electric
  • Working width: 14 inches
  • Motor output: 12.5 amps
  • Weight: 31.2 pounds
  • Dimensions: Not stated
  • Number of tines/blades: 8 scarifier blades and 12 aerator spikes
  • Tine/blade material: Not stated
  • Collection bag: Yes, 10.5 gallons
  • Adjustable working depth: Yes, 19 settings
  • Collapsible for storage: Yes
  • Warranty: 2-year limited warranty

Instead of detatching tines, this machine from Lawn Master is a scarifier, using blades to slice through matted grass and pulling clumps out.

This machine is built for a more intensive task, which is ideal if your yard needs serious help, having lots of dead, brown spots or thick, spongy thatch.

One thing that’s really impressive is the whopping 19 deck height settings. You can adjust the scarifier cylinder between -0.39 and +0.19 inches, and the aerator is adjustable from -0.19 to +0.39 inches. So no matter what your yard needs, there’s a setting for that! Also, the adjustment mechanism is an easy-to-use lever conveniently located above the front wheel.

Along with the scarifier blade, you also get an aerator cylinder with 12 fine spikes. Since you’re removing grass mats and exposing fresh soil with the scarifier, an aerating treatment is going to be much more effective. Switching between the scarifier and aerator cylinders is a simple task that involves just a couple of bolts.

One thing to be aware of: Replacement parts seem to be fairly hard to get your hands on since you have to order them directly from Lawn Master. So be prepared to spend a little extra time if you need a new part.

Pros

  • Powerful scarifier action for tough jobs
  • Strong motor and wide working width
  • 19 deck height settings with lever adjustment

Cons

  • Doesn’t use standard replacement parts

6. VonHaus Corded Electric 2 in 1 Lawn Dethatcher Scarifier and Aerator

VonHaus Corded Electric 2 in 1 Lawn Dethatcher
  • Power source: Corded electric
  • Working width: 15 inches
  • Motor output: 12.5 amps
  • Weight: 21.8 pounds
  • Dimensions: 55 inches long, 23 inches wide and 40 inches tall
  • Number of tines/blades: 8 scarifier blades and 24 aerator spikes
  • Tine/blade material: Not stated
  • Collection bag: Yes, 12 gallons
  • Adjustable working depth: Yes, 5 settings
  • Collapsible for storage: Yes
  • Warranty: 1-year limited warranty

This is another 2-in-1 product with scarifier and aerator cylinders.

Thanks to a 12.5-amp motor and eight thick blades, this machine is incredibly efficient at pulling up thatch. And the working width is on the generous side at 14.5 inches.

You have five deck height settings, varying between -0.47 to +0.24 inches. VonHaus uses a gear shifter-style adjustment handle, so it’s beyond easy to select the setting you want. And switching between the scarifier and aerator cylinders is easy with a few turns of an Allen wrench.

The collection bag holds 45 liters, which is just shy of 12 gallons. However, this machine pulls up so much thatch that the bag still fills up quickly. So plan to take frequent emptying stops or set aside time to rake up your thatch afterward.

While this machine is awesome at dethatching, the aeration cylinder doesn’t quite live up to its end of the deal. The spikes are thin for making fine holes in your yard, which is nice. But they’re a little on the short side, so they don’t penetrate into the ground enough to be optimally effective.

Pros

  • Outstanding efficiency at pulling up thatch
  • Five deck height settings are easy to adjust
  • Easy to switch between scarifier and aerator

Cons

  • Short aerator spikes

RELATED: After getting your lawn dethatched, it’s time to think about those edges and borders. Stop by our post on electric weed eaters to learn about some great options!

7. WORX WG850 Corded Electric Dethatcher

WORX WG850 Corded Electric Dethatcher
  • Power source: Corded electric
  • Working width: 14 inches
  • Motor output: 12 amps
  • Weight: 18.61 pounds
  • Dimensions: 39 inches long, 22.88 inches wide and 43.25 inches tall
  • Number of tines/blades: 24 tines
  • Tine/blade material: Steel
  • Collection bag: Yes, 8.4 gallons
  • Adjustable working depth: Yes, 3 settings
  • Collapsible for storage: Yes
  • Warranty: 30-day guarantee and 3-year limited warranty

If you’re looking for a lightweight electric dethatcher, this model from WORX delivers with a weight of just 18.6 pounds. This makes the dethatcher easy to maneuver and store.

Adjust your working height between three settings: -9mm, -3mm and +3mm. That translates to about -0.35 inches, -0.12 inches and +0.12 inches. The adjustment mechanism is a knob located on the hub of the front wheel.

This isn’t really a con against the product, but it’s one thing you should be aware of. The lowest deck height setting is quite low, and several users have reported ripped-up grass if you spend too much time in one spot on the lowest setting. This aggressive setting could be perfect if your lawn is in bad shape and needs a deep cleaning. But keep in mind that you will need to use extra care to avoid damaging the grass and root system.

The collection bag is just under 8.4 gallons in capacity, which is the smallest of the bag options we’ve seen on our list. So while it’s nice to have, you’ll probably need to empty it frequently or use the dethatcher without it and rake afterwards.

One nice thing about this machine is the ergonomic padded handle. WORX fully enclosed the entire upper portion of the handle in soft foam, so you’re covered no matter where you grip the handle.

Pros

  • Lightweight construction
  • Awesome at pulling up deep thatch
  • Fully padded handlebar

Cons

  • Collection bag is small

RELATED: Dethatching may be a hands-on task, but mowing the lawn doesn’t have to be. Stop by our post on robot lawn mowers to learn more. They can even handle hills!

What is Dethatching?

Thatch is a layer of dead organic material that sits on the surface of your lawn’s soil. A thin layer of thatch is actually helpful for your lawn for a few reasons:

  • The decomposing organic matter provides nutrition for the live grass
  • Acts a shield against the sun’s harsh rays burning the grass root system
  • Helps the soil retain moisture and helps prevent your lawn from drying out
  • It’s a home for beneficial microbes, including friendly bacteria and fungi

But while thatch is good in small amounts, it becomes harmful and unsightly when the thatch layer builds up faster than the decomposition process can keep up with.

Thatch is considered excessive when it measures more than 1/2 inch to 1 inch. If your thatch layer has grown too dense, you’ll likely notice a squishy, spongy feeling when you walk across your grass.

Here’s where dethatching comes into play. A dethatcher penetrates through the thatch layer, breaking it up and pulling some of it to the grass surface for removal.

Getting rid of excess thatch restores a healthy balance in your lawn’s ecosystem and encourages greener, denser, thriving grass.

Power Rake vs Dethatcher: What’s the Difference?

You may have heard the term “power rake” used interchangeably with a “dethatcher” and wondered if they are the same thing. The truth is that they do perform a similar task, but there’s enough of a difference to make them two separate things.

Let’s break it down a bit more:

A power rake uses rotating blades to slice through thatch (up to 1/2 inch deep into the soil), matted roots and other organic debris, then turns them up to the grass surface for removal. The power rake is a much more forceful method than using a standard dethatcher. Since it’s more aggressive, power raking is ideal for removing severely overgrown thatch, and it should only be done when necessary.

A dethatcher uses thin spring tines to pull up loose yard debris and dead grass (which is “technically” not thatch). It doesn’t go quite as deep as a power rake would. It can pull up some thatch in the soil, but dethatchers mainly only pull up loose material sitting on the surface of the soil.  Dethatching typically leaves behind a small, healthy amount of organic matter on your lawn. It’s a gentler treatment, and dethatching once or twice a year is usually a safe lawn maintenance schedule.

Both of these options will effectively remove excess thatch from your grass. When it comes down to which one is best, it really depends on the current state of your lawn and your goals. To sum it up:

  • If your grass is in really tough shape and the thatch has been building up for years, a power rake is probably your best bet for tackling the problem. Power rakes are large pieces of equipment that typically cost $1000+, so you may want to look into renting one from a home improvement store.
  • For seasonal maintenance, an electric dethatcher (like the ones we’re looking at here) is a perfect choice.

Safety First: Use an Appropriately Sized Extension Cord

All the dethatcher models we’re looking at here use an extension for power, and it’s critical that you use the right size cord for safety and maximum performance.

Multiple factors go into determining the proper cord gauge and length, starting with the tool’s amperage. AskTheBuilder.com does a great job of outlining the process of figuring proper extension cord usage.

The models we’re looking at here all take between 10 and 13 amps of power. According to AskTheBuilder’s formula, you should be fine with a 12-gauge extension cord in lengths between 50 and 100 feet. If you’re using a cord that’s less than 50 feet in length, a 14-gauge one will work.

Here are a 12-gauge cord and a 14-gauge one to consider.

Frequently Asked Questions about Electric Dethatchers

For most homeowners, purchasing an electric detatcher will save money over the long term. Depending on your area, landscaping services may charge just as much or even more for a single lawn dethatching treatment as it would cost to buy your own machine.

Also, electric dethatchers are usually fairly compact in size, so they’re easy to store during the off-season. And they tend to hold up well, so you should be able to get many uses out of your dethatcher over a few years.

If you have a grass that grows best in warm weather, aim to dethatch in late spring or early in the summer. Some warm-weather grasses include Bermuda, Zoysia and St. Augustine. Dethatching in late spring/early summer is ideal because it’s during your grass’s active growth period, so your lawn can better recover from the stress of dethatching.

Early fall is typically a great time to remove excess thatch from grasses that thrive in cooler temperatures. A couple of examples of cool-climate grasses are fescue, bluegrass and ryegrass. However, cool-weather grasses tend to produce less thatch in general, and they likely don’t require frequent dethatching.

Yes, you can use a wire spring rake to pull up thatch. But while it’s effective, it’s also a very laborious and time-intensive task.

If you’d like to give it a try, the TRG Groundskeeper II model is a great option.

Yes, applying fertilizer right after dethatching is optimal. Not only can the fertilizer penetrate into the ground better after excessive thatch is gone, but the nutrients in the fertilizer can also help your lawn recover from dethatching stress.

This formula from Milorganite might be a great option to consider.

Final Thoughts

Getting rid of excessive thatch is often the first step to getting your lawn back in shape. But trying to do it with a manual dethatching rake can be a long, arduous task. Fortunately, there are several great electric options out there that can shorten your work time considerably and spare your back in the process.

We hope you’ve found our picks for the best electric dethatcher helpful. Do you have any other questions about electric dethatchers, or do you have any useful tips to share?

Let us know in the comments!

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About Erinn Witz

Hi! I’m Erinn, a Midwestern gal who’s just as interested in honing my gardening skills as you are. I’m here to show you that if I can do this growing thing, seriously, YOU can too! 

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