Scarifying Your Lawn
The main purpose of scarifying your lawn is to remove any excess thatch and moss found within the grass, but it does have several other benefits too.
With this removal of debris you will be opening up the soil which makes for better air, water and fertiliser penetration to the grass roots. It is highly beneficial for your grass roots to have access to these, as they are essential for healthy grass growth.
Scarification is also very effective for removing weeds from the soil so they are left lying on the surface to be collected/picked up with a mower. Many fine turf areas can be affected by an excessive production of fibrous material at the surface, this of course is not desirable but scarification can help in their prevention and elimination.
A lawn that has large amounts of thatch, moss and weeds must be scarified otherwise the grass underneath will become poorly and possibly die. Using powered lawn scarifiers equipped with steel blades will make the scarifying process easier and more effective. They cut into the soil and open up the surface making it easier for the thatch to be pulled away. Not only that but they also cut the grass downwards, instead of across like with mowing, which promotes more shoots to grow and therefore thickens the turf. This results in healthier and greener looking lawn.
If you do need to scarify make sure you do so when the grass is growing actively, so that it can recover appropriately – this does depend on the weather conditions but is usually done in spring or autumn.
Also for better recovery and growth of your lawn, it is a good idea to carry out scarifying before a fertiliser treatment is applied.
But no matter when you plan on scarifying always remember that best way to tackle thatch or moss is to address the issue as quickly as possible, once identified. Wait too long and there might be no grass left to treat.
1. Preparation Work
Ensure your grass has been cut progressively shorter over the last few mows prior to carrying our your scarification. This will make the process a little easier and help to ensure that the grass can recover quicker after the scarification process.
Check your lawn before you carry out scarification and ensure that you have the right tool for the job. If your lawn is medium sized then an electric scarifier would be suitable, if your lawn is large then you may want to consider a petrol scarifier.
Remember, scarifying your lawn by hand is back breaking work, and should only be considered for very small lawns. You can also use hand push scarifier.
If there are weeds or moss in your lawn make sure these are taken care of beforehand. Moss can be removed by setting your scarifier to a higher level (rake) and running over your lawn prior to a deeper scarification. Alternatively you can apply a moss killer around 10 days prior to carrying out the scarification.
If your lawn is filled with quite a lot of weeds and moss, then most of it will be taken up during the deep scarification, so you will want to over-seed afterwards.
2. Choose the Right Season for Scarifying
Always keep an eye on the weather before you plan to scarify. You really don’t want to be clearing up debris that has clung together because of a light rainfall. Ideally you want the grass to be moist, not too wet and not too dry, this is why you want to carry out this process in the spring and autumn months. If your lawn is too wet, the scarification process may pull up healthy grass by its roots, instead of just removing the unwanted thatch and moss.
In spring you should consider lighter raking or scarification, and in autumn a deeper scarification/de-thatching should be carried out.
3. Preparing the Scarifier for the Job
If you have a serious thatch problem and don’t want to re-seed, then you are better using spring tines. If you are wanting a vertical cut because you are planning on planting seeds afterwards then you are better using solid type blades.
The aim for de-thatching is to set the blades as deep as possible without disturbing the roots, and the aim for vertical cutting is to go deep enough to prune the roots, again without harming the grass. Take your scarifier over to a less visible area of the lawn and gradually lower the depth of the blades until you have reached the desired height. It is best to start by just flicking the grass and working your way down from there.
Having the right tool for the job will ensure that you do the job once and you do it properly. There are different types of lawn scarifiers and aerators on the market, so it is essential to understand the differences and choose the right one for you and your lawn.
Top Electric Powered Aerators and Scarifiers are listed below.
Last update on 2021-10-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Once you have got the desired height begin by working your way around the perimeter of the garden, this saves you from throwing debris into the borders and allows for turning points at each pass. After doing this a couple of times start on the main area of lawn by going backward and forward in straight, parallel lines.
After you have gathered up the debris from the first pass, make sure you make a second pass at a slightly different angle.
5. Gathering Debris
You will find that most scarifying machines come with grass collection boxes so you shouldn’t need to do too much cleaning up afterwards. If there is still debris left lying on the surface then you could use a back-pack blower, these make gathering them up much easier, just blow them into one area and pick them up.
However if you want to use a blower then the thatch will need to be relatively dry, if it is a little damp then you are better using a plastic rake. Whether or not you choose to rake or blow you are going to want to work in the same direction as you scarified – it is much easier this way as some debris will be missed if you work at right angles.
Alternatively, you can try using your lawn mower.
6. Over-seeding your Lawn
Once you have scarified your lawn it is a good idea to carry out over-seeding. By sowing additional grass seed as soon as possible you will limit the amount of weed growth whilst ensuring you have a thicker and greener lawn. Take extra care when scarifying steep slopes as any grass seed sown can be washed away during heavy rain or watering.
Once your lawn has been scarified and over-seeded you should continue with your normal lawn maintenance schedule.
Now if your lawn is prone to moss, wet, shaded areas, or even on clay soil, then you will have to do your fair share of raking from time to time. Raking can be done by using a manual hand rake (can be a great workout) or using an electric powered lawn rake. Naturally the latter is much quicker and easier. Some electric machines will allow you to switch the drum between steel blades and tines. If you are carrying out raking of your lawn, you will want to use the steel tines with the machine set on a higher level.
On some scarifying machines you will see that the tines are not fixed in place but instead swivel, this means that they just flick out the way if you come across something hard, but they will still remove the moss without causing much lawn damage.
If you are going to use a manual rake, for the best results make sure you have a rake with wires, the moss isn’t rooted so will come away easily. They are also useful for clearing your lawn of dead brown grass that has gathered after a drought.
Top manual Lawn Rakes are listed below.
Last update on 2021-10-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
If you intend on raking by hand then be warned this can get quite exhausting after a while. The rake needs some pressure when pushing into the soil which will take some physical effort. If you want to avoid this then you are better off getting a rolling push scarifier as they are much easier to use.
When raking make sure you, like de-thatching, work in one direction and then in another just off at a slight angle. This will be easier and you will achieve better results.
How Often do You Need to Rake or De-thatch?
All lawns and grasses are different so it is difficult to judge exactly how often you will need to scarify. If your lawn contains large amounts of thatch and moss then it will need to be scarified on a regular basis to be manageable. The secret to less scarifying is to ensure that the lawn is healthy and well fertilised to prevent the weeds and moss from taking hold.
In relation to thatch different grass types tend to produce more thatch than others and therefore need scarifying more frequently. It is really up to you and the appearance of your lawn to decide when your lawn needs it.
Top Lawn Scarifier Reviews
If you would like to see a full review of our best lawn scarifiers and aerators, click the link below.
If you found this post interesting and would like to see some of my other lawn care articles or reviews relating to best gardening tools I have reviewed, visit easylawnmowing.co.uk
If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please use the comment box below – I will be happy to respond.