Home Blog Verticutter vs. Dethatcher – Are they the same thing?

Verticutter vs. Dethatcher – Are they the same thing?

by Jackson White

Verticutting and dethatching are two important care practices for a grass lawn owner. They use an almost similar principle, but the tools used to achieve each are different in a sense. So, what sets a dethatcher and a verticutter apart?

Grass lawns require a significant amount of care to grow, thrive and maintain their beauty for a long time. Common care practices involve mowing, mulching, fertilizing, reseeding and constant watering. While each of these practices goes a long way in ensuring that your lawn maintains a luscious and full look for a long time, you need to go a step further. You need to ensure that the grass does not develop a thick layer of thatch, and this is where a verticutter or dethatcher comes in.

What are the differences between a verticutter and dethatcher?

Cutting mechanism
Uses small rectangular or star shaped knives
Uses a wide range of blades that are small and large
Cutting depth
Slices through stolons and top layer of soil
Slices deep into the soil to create slits
Physical features
Comes as one machine
Comes in the form of powered rakes, corers, spikers and slicers
Application time
After seed has been sawn
During periods of active growth and development

Verticutter vs. Dethatcher – How do they compare?

Application and Cutting mechanism

When a grass lawn has been growing for a good deal of time, a layer of thatch usually forms between the growing grass and nutritious soils. This thatch largely comprises of dead stolons and roots which are intermingled with the growing grass. It becomes a problem since it prevents proper soil aeration, prevents proper root development and prevents water and fertilizer from getting deep into the soil where it is needed. Additionally, it acts as a host for pests and other disease causing micro-organisms.

A verticutter uses its small sharp blades to cut through a slightly grown layer of thatch. This device is largely effective before the thatch becomes too thick. Its blades make small slices on the stolons and top layer of the soil, allowing for air, water and fertilizer to penetrate for optimal growth of the grass.

On the other hand, a dethatcher comes to play when the layer of thatch has become quite thick, reaching a depth of ½ an inch. Thatch that is this thick may cause problems with water, air and fertilizer penetration due to its compactness. A dethatcher does not just cut through the thatch, it also makes deep cuts into the soil, allowing for compacted soil to be removed. It also reduces the bumpiness of the lawn and restores health and beauty of the grass.

A dethatcher is able to work through extremely thick thatch, making it a better tool than a verticutter.

Physical features and Application time

When it comes to time of use, a verticutter is best applied just after you have re-seeded your lawn. This allows for the machine to create small slits where the seed can grow and thrive, and it also eliminates thatch that would otherwise become competition for the new growing grass. You will notice that a verticutter is an actual machine that can be purchased in stores that have farm related equipment. Routine Verticutting can be done twice or thrice a year.

A dethatcher comes in handy during the period of most aggressive growth. For cool season grasses, this period is mostly observed in the fall when it is cooler. Warmer grass types experience heightened growth during the warmer seasons of summer and spring. Since a dethatcher is a lot more thorough than a verticutter, it is recommended that you use it just once a year to get rid of thatch buildup and loosen compacted soils.

Dethatchers come in a number of forms and you can choose one based on how easy it is for you to use.

A dethatcher is clearly a more practical and aggressive tool that only needs to be used once a year, making it a better device than a verticutter.

Verticutter vs. Dethatcher – A comparison Overview

Verticutter Overview

Verticutters have been quite instrumental in keeping massive lawns looking beautiful. Since it is a massive machine – just like a ride-on lawn mower- you are more likely to find it in a commercial setting such as a football field or golf course.

A verticutter is made to keep delicate looking lawns looking beautiful and pristine, and they work by making slits across stolons and dead roots that are entangled with the growing grass and roots. Even though it keeps a lawn beautiful and tidy, it does not bear the capacity to get rid of an overgrown thatch. Additionally, it only lightly aerates the soil, and sooner than later, you will need to use something heavier.


  • Gets rid of light thatch
  • Lightly aerates the soil
  • Allows for a healthy lawn to thrive


  • You need to buy the machine as a unit
  • Not ideal for a home setting

Dethatcher Overview

Dethatchers are meant to work on lawns that have thick thatch which has accumulated over a long period of time. There are several types of dethatchers that use different mechanisms to work. Some of them include;

  • Spikers – These work by perforating the soil by use of blades or solid tines. They are not powered and their depth is limited to approximately one inch.
  • Power rakes – They use either flexible or rigid wire tines. They are powered and remove thatch that is ½ an inch thick.
  • Slicers – They make a deep vertical cut in the soil and use disks or V-shaped knives that are rigid.


  • Ideal for removing overgrown thatch
  • Come as a wide variety of tools
  • Can be used over expansive lawns
  • Ideal for home use


  • Overuse can damage the grass

Verdict: So, which one makes a better tool, a verticutter or a dethatcher?

Dethatchers make better tools since they are more diverse and do a thorough job. Verticutters are more ideal for newer lawns and commercial settings, making them less practical.


Can I use a verticutter on long grass?

No, you have to mow it first.

Are corers also dethatchers?

Yes, corers are also dethatchers.

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