Skip to content
The Lawn Review: Home » Sun Joe Dethatcher: Spring 2023 Review

Sun Joe Dethatcher: Spring 2023 Review

The Sun Joe dethatcher AKA Sun Joe AJ801E, is a tool that has recently blown me away. If you have never used a dethatcher on your lawn before, you need to buckle up and prepare to have your mind blown.

Ever gotten really close to the soil and wondered what all that dead grass was doing? After it rains it is all of the super soggy, dirty, twisty grass that sits at the base of the grass and clogs it up. I can tell you what it is doing – it is called thatch and it is clogging up the soil and suffocating your lawn.

Dethatching your lawn at least once per year, especially before you aerate and seed, can yield amazing results. Getting rid of those dead strands of grass gives your yard room to breathe, take in nutrients, and grow more luscious throughout the season. 

Let’s get started – click to jump ahead

Why would I buy a Sun Joe dethatcher?

I am not really sure who Sun Joe is, but he makes electric yard tools like dethatchers, pressure washers, electric air compressors, and more. Traditionally, dethatching is done with a fine rake across the entirety of your yard. Other than the damage this does to your weekend and lower back, it can put a lot of stress on your living grass. 

The Sun Joe dethatcher AJ801E provides an electronic way for you to simply scoot across your lawn and pull up all of the dead grass. This saves you time and back pain and is much more effective. 

Sun Joe also has a line of winter products, aptly named Snow Joe.

When to use a dethatcher

Dethatchers are great for people who do their own lawn care. Where I see dethatchers being most useful is at the beginning of the spring when the snow has melted. Snow plows and general use around your yard can cause dirt, debris, and rotten roots.

Another great time to use the dethatcher is right before aerating and seeding, typically around October (depending on where you live). This gives the seed fresh ground upon which to grow and takes away competing sources of nutrients like sunlight, nitrogen, and water. 

Sun Joe dethatcher features and benefits

At first glance, the Sun Joe dethatcher appears to be a big plastic box with a metal bar. In fact, it looks weak and wimpy. It feels kind of unsturdy and cheaply made.

Do not be fooled. This thing is a workhorse! You will notice once you get it going that it has some serious power to pull up the dead grass. Yep, that same dead grass that broke your back with the rake is coming up super easily by a plastic box. No reason to feel embarrassed.

The Sun Joe Dethatcher without bag attachment
The Sun Joe Dethatcher in all of its glory.

Plug and play

The downside of this dethatcher is that it needs to be plugged in to operate – it is not battery powered. A nice, long extension cord will help get the job done. I recommend a fifty foot extension cord if you can manage. One hundred foot extension cords tend to get really heavy and difficult to maneuver. 

sun  joe dethatcher
The dethatcher from the front with bag attached.

Clean-up after you dethatch – bag or no bag?

The Sun Joe dethatcher leaves quite the mess behind. You will be surprised to see the amount of thatch that comes up from beneath your grass. That being said, Sun Joe provides a bag that can be mounted to the dethatcher. I suggest using this to clean as you go. Otherwise, you can go over the loose thatch with your mower and collect it in that bag. Another option is to grab the rake, but obviously would be a last resort. 

Sun joe dethatcher scarifier heights
Height adjustment.

Sun Joe Dethatcher Durability

At first glance, this chunk of neon green plastic that is only about 13-15 inches wide does not look like it would be super durable. Frankly, that is exactly what I thought when I first looked at the Sun Joe Dethatcher (or really any Sun Joe product).

The truth is, the little throngs at the bottom poking out are called tines. The tines on this machine are, in fact, super durable. These tines will work to dig up all of the thatch and leave your lawn looking great. Truly, the plastic casing and wheels are deceptive, as they simply serve as a cover for an otherwise low-output (meaning not getting super hot or vibrating) tool. I have no concerns with the durability of this equipment and have had zero issues with tines. The tines can also be replaced if needed, giving the Sun Joe dethatcher a high durability ranking.

Setting expectations

While the Sun Joe dethatcher is a powerful tool that will save your back, it isn’t for everyone. If you have a massive yard, you are better off getting a commercial size dethatcher that can be hooked on to the back of your riding mower.

sun joe assembly dethatcher
Assembling the Dethatcher right out of the box.

To level-set expectations, the Sun Joe dethatcher has a width of almost 13 inches ranging up to 15 inches with the largest model. This is not going to be “a few passes in the yard and you are good to go”. It will require you to move relatively slowly and make many passes to cover the entirety of your yard. But boy, will you be surprised by the amount of thatch you pull up. 

It is ideal to use the dethatcher on your yard right before you aerate and seed. This gives your yard a fresh slate to work off of for the most aeration and overseeding. All of those gaps that you notice between the blades will become filled in (if only this could happen to my hair).

The scarifier attachment on the Sun Joe Dethatcher

This machine also comes with a scarifier attachment. Honestly, I had never used or even heard of a scarifier before I used the dethatcher. It basically looks like someone removed the blades out of my blender and put them in this machine. 

scarifier and dethatcher tines
The tines inside.

Basically, the scarifier cuts little grooves in your yard to somewhat aerate and cut through small roots and other tricky pieces that might give the dethatcher a hard time. In my experience, I would just use the dethatcher then switch over to a normal aerator to get the job done prior to seeding. 

Renting vs buying the Sun Joe Dethatcher

This is a very easy question for me to answer. Simply put, once you use the dethatcher on your lawn one time, you will be addicted. It is incredibly satisfying to pull up a bunch of old grass that has been plaguing your lawn. 

Sun Joe AJ801E
Dethatcher underbelly (with scarifier attachment).

Renting a Sun Joe dethatcher simply is not worth it. This is something you will want to do to your lawn every couple of months. The dethatcher is relatively inexpensive compared to other lawn items, ranging from $150 to $200 depending on where and when you buy. It is on sale on Amazon for under $150 right now.

The Cordless Sun Joe Dethatcher

For an additional $100 or so, you can purchase a cordless dethatcher. I do not generally recommend getting the cordless version and I will explain why.

The range of the batteries on these will not get you much further than the limit of an extension cord. Meaning, you will not get much of a benefit besides not having to worry about pulling around or tripping over an extension cord. I also hate having clutter in my garage and already have enough battery chargers for my other tools. This comes with two batteries that will simply add more clutter, chargers, and things that I will fall and break my neck on in the garage. 

The official review: Sun Joe Dethatcher

FeatureSun Joe AJ801E
Difficulty to useMuch easier to use than a rake
DurabilityMedium durability
MaintenanceNo maintenance required
ValueHigh value to own vs. rent
For lots <10,000 sq. ftHighly recommended
For lots <1 acreRecommended up to 0.5 acres
For lots >1 acreNot recommended
Our breakdown.

The Sun Joe dethatcher will absolutely change your yard. While this can be a tedious process, it beats out the alternative of breaking your back with a rake. We here at The Lawn Review highly encourage purchasing this product and giving it a try. Once you do your first pass in your lawn, you will be addicted!

Check out our comparison web story we made stacking this one up against the Greenworks dethatcher.

You can grab the Sun Joe dethatcher AJ801E on Amazon for sale right now.

nv-author-image

Alex is a lawn tool enthusiast who cut his teeth as a normal Joe lawn dad. After burning through expensive, fancy tools, Alex became dedicated to finding the best tools on the planet. He is now a leading expert on electric lawn tools, quoted in the Washington Post among other publications.