How to Dethatch Buffalo Lawn

Written By:
Scott Carroll
Published On:
April 25, 2023
Dethatching lawn

Dethatching is an important part of keeping your yard healthy and green. Thatch is a layer of dead plants and other organic matter. It can block sunlight, water, and nutrients from getting to the soil, making it hard for grass to grow.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss why dethatching buffalo grass is important, when it’s best to do it, and what tools you’ll need.

What is dethatching?

Lawn thatch is the accumulation of dead leaves and vegetative material on the surface of warm-season grasses. While a small amount of thatch benefits the yard, too much can cause problems. It can prevent air, water, and nutrients from reaching the soil, resulting in slow growth and weak root development. Additionally, all the thatch can create a breeding ground for pests and diseases, further damaging the yard. 

Why is dethatching important for buffalo lawns?

Dethatching is an important part of keeping a healthy and full garden. Thatch is a layer of dead plants and other organic matter that builds up between the grass blades and the dirt. 

If you don’t care for the thatch layer, it can get so thick that it stops sunshine, air, and water from reaching the soil. This makes it hard for the grass to grow. Pests and diseases can also grow in thatch layers that are more than half an inch thick, which can damage the grass. 

Additionally, dethatching removes the dead organic matter layer, letting the grassroots breathe, take in water and nutrients, and make new grass grow. Regular dethatching can also help keep the yard healthy and full of life by stopping thatch from building up. If you don’t remove the thatch, it can choke the grass, causing it to turn brown, have bare spots, or even die. Because of this, gardens need to be dethatched often to keep their health and look.

When is the best time to dethatch a buffalo lawn?

Timing is very important when dethatching a buffalo lawn. If you do it at the wrong time, especially if your grass is still recovering from winter, you could damage it a lot. Early spring or early fall are the best times to dethatch buffalo grass. 

At this time of year, the grass is growing, and the weather is neither too hot nor too cold. This means that your lawn will recover quickly. It’s important not to do it too early or late in the spring. 

If you do it too early, the grass might not start growing again after the winter; if you do it too late, it might not have enough time to heal before winter. Also, it would be best if you didn’t dethatch in the middle of summer when the grass is already under much stress because it could do more harm than good. 

A good rule of thumb is to wait until after the last frost in the spring or the first frost in the fall, then dethatch your yard. If you do this, your yard will have the best chance of growing and thriving year-round. After dethatching, you should always aerate and water your lawn to ensure it gets the nutrients and water it needs to heal quickly.

Tools needed for dethatching a buffalo lawn

To dethatch a buffalo lawn, you will need the following tools:

  1. Thatching rake: This tool has sharp, curved tines that dig into the lawn and pull up the thatch layer. Using a thatching rake rather than a regular lawn rake is important, as the curved tines are better suited for pulling up thatch.
  2. Lawn mower: A lawn mower with a bag attachment can collect the thatch as you mow over the lawn. This method is less labour-intensive than using a thatching rake, but it may be less effective in removing all the thatch.
  3. Leaf blower: A leaf blower can be used to blow away any remaining debris after dethatching. This will help to keep the lawn looking neat and tidy.
  4. Lawn aerator: After dethatching, it’s a good idea to aerate the lawn to promote healthy growth. An aerator will create small holes in the soil, allowing air, water, and nutrients to reach the grassroots.
  5. Fertiliser: Once the lawn has been dethatched and aerated, it’s a good time to apply fertiliser to promote healthy growth. Choose a fertiliser that is specifically designed for buffalo grass.

Dethatching a buffalo lawn can be a labour-intensive process. Still, it’s important for maintaining the health and appearance of the grass. Using the right tools and techniques, you can keep your lawn looking lush and beautiful for years.

Thatching rake for buffalo grass

Preparing the buffalo lawn for dethatching

Before you start dethatching your buffalo lawn, you must ensure it is ready. The first step is to cut your lawn a little shorter than usual. This will make it easier to see the thatch layer and ensure that the tools for dethatching can reach the soil. 

Next, cut back any branches or plants that might get in the way of the dethatching tools. Remove any weeds or grass clippings from the yard before you dethatch it to avoid making more thatch. The day before dethatching, water the yard well. This will help the soil take the shock of the dethatching process. 

After dethatching, the grass may look thin and broken, but if you take good care of it, it will grow back fast. It needs to be watered often and fed with a mild fertiliser to help it grow back. Lastly, don’t mow the grass for at least two weeks to let it heal from the stress of dethatching. 

By preparing your buffalo lawn well for dethatching, you can minimise damage and encourage healthy replanting, giving you a better lawn.

Mowing buffalo lawn before dethatching

Techniques for dethatching a buffalo lawn

A few ways to ensure that dethatching a buffalo lawn is done well. One way is to use a dethatching rake, a special rake with sharp, curved tines that can easily penetrate the surface of the grass and pull out any dead material that may be clogging the soil. 

A power dethatcher is another way that can be a faster and more effective way to remove dead grass from a big area, but care should be taken because the blades can hurt the grass if they are not used properly. 

You can hire a professional to do the dethatching. This can be a good choice if you don’t have the time, tools, or knowledge to dethatch your yard yourself. A professional can ensure that the job is done right and help your yard grow stronger and healthier by fertilising and aerating it. 

Overall, it’s important to dethatch your buffalo lawn often to keep it healthy and looking its best, no matter your method.

How to clean up after dethatching a buffalo lawn

Cleaning up after dethatching your buffalo lawn is crucial to remove dead leaf material and keep the area around your lawn:

  1. Remove dead leaf material by dethatching your lawn with a specialised dethatching machine or by raking the yard’s surface layer, effectively removing trash and thatch buildup.
  2. Transfer any large pile of thatch to your compost pile with a bucket during early summer when it can effectively feed your garden.
  3. Utilise a leaf blower to eliminate any leftover debris in the yard’s edges, cracks, and corners, ensuring to clean up any trash that may have landed in the flower beds or other areas that border the lawn.
  4. Adjust the soil level if necessary, and perform a moderate low mowing to help eliminate any additional thatch you may have missed during dethatching.
  5. Water your lawn to assist it in growing and spreading out any topdressing you might have added while dethatching.

By following these steps, you can effectively clean up after dethatching your buffalo lawn, promoting its health and beauty.

Frequent dethatching mistakes to avoid on buffalo lawns

Dethatching is an important part of maintaining both warm-season lawns and couch lawns. Still, there are some common mistakes you should avoid. One of the most significant mistakes is removing too much thatch at once. 

Thatch, which is made up of grass stems, leaves, and roots, should be about half an inch thick. Removing more than an inch at once can hurt the roots, exposing them to the sun and heat. It’s also important to ensure you use the right tools for dethatching, especially couch grass. 

Heavy-duty or commercial-grade tools made for other types of grass might not work well on couch fields with thick, strong grass stems. If you use the wrong tools, you might only remove part of the thatch layer or damage the roots of the grass blades. 

While dethatching your lawn, avoid cutting the grass too short. This can expose bare soil and cause the grass blades to burn, especially when it’s hot and dry. It also makes it easier for weeds and pests to grow, which can cause further damage.

Additionally, it’s important not to dethatch your lawn immediately. Dethatching too often can harm the grassroots and make the lawn weak and thin. Buffalo lawns should only be dethatched once or twice a season, depending on how much thatch has built up. In conclusion, if you want a buffalo yard that is the envy of the neighbourhood, you need to dethatch it properly and avoid these common mistakes.

Alternatives to dethatching a buffalo lawn

Alternatives to dethatching a buffalo lawn include reducing how often you water your yard to avoid accumulating dead vegetative material. Buffalo grass excels in drought conditions, but overwatering can cause the thatch layer to become thicker and more compact. 

Watering deeply but less often can promote the growth of stronger roots. If you have a Kikuyu lawn, you may want to consider removing thatch with a garden fork.

Changing how you mow is another option, leaving grass clippings where they provide essential nutrients for your lawn to thrive. 

Lastly, you can break up the thatch layer with a power rake or verticutter, but be mindful not to harm the underground stolons or runners

Consulting with a professional can also help you find the best way to care for your buffalo lawn.


How often should I dethatch my buffalo lawn?

Buffalo lawns generally require dethatching once or twice a year, typically in early spring or autumn, depending on your location and climate.

Can I use a regular rake for dethatching?

Yes, you can use a regular garden rake for dethatching your lawn. However, using a specialised dethatching rake or power dethatcher may be more efficient and effective.

How soon after dethatching can I mow my lawn?

Waiting at least two days after dethatching before mowing your lawn is recommended to allow time for the grass to recover. Additionally, ensure that the blades of your lawnmower are sharp to prevent damage to the grass.