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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’ll be opening up the soil which makes for better air, water and fertiliser penetration to the grass roots, access to these are essential for healthy grass growth.
Scarification is also very effective for removing weeds and creeping grass from the soil so they’re left lying on the surface to be mown off. 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.
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 it’s usually done through autumn to spring.
Also for better recovery and growth it’s a good idea to carry out scarifying before a fertiliser treatment.
But no matter when you plan on scarifying always remember that best way to tackle thatch or moss is to do so as quickly as possible. Wait too long and there might be no grass left underneath to treat.
Whether or not you’re gonna need to de-thatch your lawn really depends on your grass type. If you’ve got anything other than a rye grass then you’ll need to do it every now and then and if your lawn if filled with fescue grasses then you’ll need to do much more often.
Thatch is removed much more easily and effectively when using lawn scarifiers equipped with steel blades, 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.
- Prep work
Have a little check over you lawn before you carry out scarifying, if there are any weeds or moss make sure these are taken care of beforehand. Also if your lawn is filled with quite a lot of weeds and moss then most of it will be taken up after scarification so you’ll want to overseed afterwards.
To make the process a little easier you might want to run over the grass with your mower, make it quite low so you take out some of its volume.
Always keep an eye on the weather before you plan to scarify to o, 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 moist, not too wet and not too dry, this is why you want to start no later than the end of October and the spring months.
- Preparing the scarifier
If you have a serious thatch problem then you’re better using spring type tines, and if you’re wanting a vertical cut because you are planning on planting seeds afterwards then you’re 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 you scarifier over to a less visible area of the lawn and gradually lower the depth of the blades until you’ve reached the desired height. It’s best to start by just flicking the grass and working your way down from there.
Once you’ve 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 a turning point at each pass. After doing this a couple of times start on the main area of lawn by going back and forward in straight, parallel lines.
After you’ve gathered up the debris from the first pass, make sure you make a second at a slightly different angle – NOT at right angles.
- Gathering Debris
You’ll find 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 then 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’s a little damp then you’re better using a plastic rake. Whether or not you choose to rake or blow you’re going to want to work in the same direction as you scarified – it’s much easier this way and some debris will be missed if you work at right angles.
Now if your lawn if prone to moss, wet, shaded or even on clay soil, then you’ll have to do your fair share of raking from time to time. 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.
On some scarifying machines you’ll see that the wires are not fixed in place but instead swivel, this will mean 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 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’re better off getting a rolling scarifier as they’re 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 (not in right angles as this will cause damage). This will be easier and find you get better results.
How Often do You Need to Rake or De-thatch?
All lawns and grasses are different so it’s difficult to judge exactly how often you’ll need to scarify. If your lawn contains large amounts of thatch and moss then it’ll need scarified quite a few times to be manageable. Different grass types tend to produce more thatch than others and therefore need scarifying more frequently. It’s really up to you and when you think your lawn needs it.
If you found this post interesting then maybe you’d like to see some of my other content, like my robomower reviews? If so then head over to my Robot Lawn Mower Review Page, I’ve reviewed various models all designed for different purposes so if you’re in the market there won’t be a better place to go than here!