thatching rake
Photo: Alison Rosa
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Where to Start: Dethatch

Pulling up thatch, a tight mat of dead and living plant material on top of the soil, opens up a lawn so that nutrients and water can reach turf roots. A thatching rake, like the one shown at left ($30; ames.com), has curved tines made for the job and works for lawns up to 100 square feet. For large areas or very heavy thatch, rent a power dethatcher for about $45 a day.
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