Lawn Care

How to Scarify a Lawn Either by Hand or by Machine

Thatch is a natural component of any lawn, but when it becomes too thick it can overwhelm the grass roots below, depriving it of nutrients and water. Scarification is the process of removing thatch, either by hand or with a machine, in order to keep your grass healthy Scarifying can form a vital aspect of year-round lawn care. In our explainer on how to scarify a lawn, we’ll explore the importance of scarification, when to scarify a lawn, and the alternating methods your can use.

What is Scarification and Why is it Needed?

Scarification is the process of removing thatch and moss from the base of a lawn. Thatch is formed by a mixture of organic matter such as dead grass and leaves, and it will naturally form between the blades and the soil within your lawn. While thatch can decay into your soil, in some cases it can build into a dry undergrowth that can prevent both water and fertilisers from reaching the roots of your lawn. Excessive thatching can also stop the flow of oxygen, which can cause further issues, and help to encourage the growth of moss.

When you scarify your lawn you will be looking to remove the thatch and moss without damaging the grass. This will allow your grass to receive the nutrients it needs, and reduce the presence of moss on your lawn.

How to Scarify a Lawn

When looking to scarify a lawn you’ll have a couple of options, using a manual tool like a rake, or using a specialised scarification machine. While using a handheld tool is obviously the more cost-effective choice of the two, depending on the size of your lawn it could prove to be a time consuming and physically intensive process. You should avoid scarifying during rain or if your lawn is boggy, as this could lead to you damaging your lawn. 

A couple of weeks before you scarify you should treat your lawn with a moss killer. This is to ensure that you don’t spread moss spores across your lawn during scarification. You should also mow your lawn low before you start, to around 2cm in height, collecting the grass clippings if possible. You shouldn’t cut more than a third off of your grass plants at any one time, so you may need to gradually shorten it over the proceeding weeks.

How to Scarify a Lawn With a Rake

If scarifying by hand, either with a rake or a handheld scarifier, you should cover the entirety of your lawn with a first pass, carefully tearing up most of the thatch. Ensure you leave a little thatch behind, which can help to protect your grass. All surface thatch and moss you’ve pulled up should be removed, either with a rake or a gardening vacuum. A second pass with your hand tool should be more thorough, moving at a 45° angle from your original line. If there is more deeply entrenched moss and thatch in your lawn this should come loose more easily on the second pass. As before, remove all debris from your lawn.

How to Scarify a Lawn With a Machine

A powered machine scarifier will operate much like a lawnmower, allowing you to easily cover the entirety of your lawn. Many scarifiers will collect the thatch and moss themselves, further saving time. A second pass should, like the handheld method, involve moving at a 45° angle from your original line, pulling up more moss and thatch.

What’s the Cost of Scarifying a Lawn With a Machine?

A professional machine scarifier can cost upwards of £1000, but quality personal machines will come with a lower price tag. We sell a range of scarifiers through our website, with models like the STIHL RL 540 Scarifier offering excellent performance at a more reasonable price. Scarifying via lawn raking will clearly save you money, and especially if you have a small lawn, the cost of a mechanical scarifier may not be justifiable to you.

How Deep to Scarify a Lawn?

You should be looking to leave some thatch during scarifying, with about 1cm being the recommended level. Heights above this can restrict the passage of water and nutrients to the grassroots. 

How to Scarify a Large Lawn?

The same methods can be applied to a large lawn, but you may want to consider investing in a mechanical scarifier due to the high levels of exertion that will come from carefully covering your lawn twice with a rake or other handheld scarifier. While it can be a high cost for something that will be used once a year it will save you considerable time and effort, particularly in gardens with heavy-duty thatch issues.

When to Scarify a Lawn?

There are two ideal times of year to scarify a lawn, spring and autumn. You should be looking to scarify once a year. Generally, spring is better for shaded gardens, or for gardens with smaller thatch issues. Autumn is suited for heavy-duty scarification, doubling up to four passes with either method. This may cause some visual damage to your lawn, and can be coupled with planting grass seeds to ensure a healthy lawn. For more information, we have a guide on the best time of year to scarify a lawn.

Our Range of Scarifiers For Sale

Sims Garden Machinery has over 100 years of experience selling quality gardening supplies to both professional and private gardeners interested in lawn treatment. We have a range of scarifiers available through our website, with both electric and petrol models, perfect for a large lawn. We also stock the Wolf Garten Moss Removal Rake, for use with its multi-change handles, alongside a spring tine rake head. This specialist rake is specifically designed for removing moss and thatch from lawns by hand, ensuring the thorough manual scarification of your lawn. Our expert team are available to answer any questions you might have about our range of scarification equipment or the ongoing care of your lawn.

Explore our range of mechanical scarifiers today.

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