Last updated on March 9th, 2022
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Your lawn needs food, water and oxygen, just like you do. In order to give it the air circulation it requires, you have to scarify your lawn to remove thatch, moss and remove weeds. Don’t let this frighten you off. There are many different ways to scarify your lawn so that you get the perfect, lush greenery and it’s fairly straightforward and easy to do.
When you first scarify your lawn it can look terrible, which puts some gardeners off, however, after just a few weeks, you will see a big improvement and it makes a huge difference.
Need a lawn scarifier? – check my review of the Bosch 1100 AVR Verticutter in this post – or watch the video below
When to Scarify a Lawn
Heavily scarify in autumn and lightly scarify in spring
Long-term it’s incredibly beneficial for your lawn if you rake or scarify it. If you do this at the wrong time of year it can damage your lawn or create a huge eyesore for weeks on end, so it is vital you scarify at the correct time. You need to time this process accordingly so that your lawn has enough time to recover. Don’t do it when conditions are incredibly hot, cold or you are experiencing a drought. Your lawn needs warmth, sunshine, and a little bit of rain to properly recover. Effectively this means you need optimum growing conditions before you scarify.
During the spring, you can do some light scarifying to get rid of the moss. This generally means around April before things really heat up. If you do it too late in the season the temperatures will get too warm for your lawn to recover in time. You can also do it in autumn if you want to do some heavy scarifying. This type of scarifying will leave your lawn very thin and leave the soil exposed in a lot of areas, however, this gives you the opportunity to reseed bare patches.
Heavily scarify in autumn, or in spring if autumn isn’t suitable
Deciding when to do it, early spring or early autumn is really based upon what you are trying to achieve. If bad weather happens in the autumn and you simply aren’t able to heavily scarify your lawn, you can wait until April to do it.
If the area you are trying to scarify is very shady you should wait to do it in spring because it will stand out over winter and it won’t have an opportunity to recover. Likewise if the area is underneath the trees you should scarify between the end of March and April to allow good growth for the upcoming season. In all other situations that is best to do it in autumn.
How to Scarify a Lawn
Trim the grass prior to scarifying
Once you decide when you are going to scarify it’s time to plan ahead and make all the necessary preparations. In order to properly scarify you need your grass to be short and dry so start to bring the height down over the span of one or two weeks prior to scarifying. This will help reduce the length of the grass without shocking the grass and it will allow for increased air circulation to dry out the grass prior to scarifying.
Remove any large weeds before scarifying
If there are weeds in your lawn you should not use a weedkiller but rather remove them by hand. Weedkillers will disrupt the germination process after scarifying, we recommend using a weed puller to remove most perennial weeds from the lawn.
Scarifying with a rake or manual scarifier
There are different ways to scarify your lawn. You can do it manually if you have the means and the time. To do this you need a rake or manual scarifier and strong leather gloves. If you are using a rake you need to apply moderate pressure throughout the work so that you can lift out any thatch or moss from your lawn.
It can be rewarding to do it by hand but it will also be time-consuming. You can get better results in a much faster fashion if you use a lawn scarifier with wheels. If you do this you should head in one direction and rake at slightly different angles so that you don’t cause too much damage. Once you are done manually moving the lawn scarifier, you can collect any of the debris that was brought up with a rake and discard it.
A powered scarifier is quicker and much easier
Another way to go about scarifying your lawn, which is what I personally use, is to use a powered scarifier, the model I have is the electric Bosch AVR 1100 Verticutter that also collects. An electric or petrol scarifier will both tease up any of the thatch or moss from your lawn but it does so with machine power instead of your physical manpower. With these machines, there are adjustments most of the time for the height and you should alter these when the machine is turned off and placed on a hard surface. You may need to use the machine for a few metres and then make minor adjustments so that the debris gets removed without tearing up large chunks of your lawn with it but it’s much easier.
If you don’t use a scarifier that collects, use a large hay rake and a lawnmower you can typically collect all of the thatch and moss that you picked up and then cut it so that it’s easier to collect. Whatever machine you use, just the same as doing it manually, it’s best for you to change direction each time you complete a run so that you can remove more and more of the debris.
Each time you complete a run you should see less debris remaining, at which point you can start to lower the machine ever-so-slightly. If you are using any machine you should try to keep it on the high side to reduce the amount of damage your lawn sustains. If you start too low you might damage something severely right from the get go, so we recommend starting high and lowering slowly.
As you go about this process you might notice that your lawn is not perfectly level and there could be areas that have bumps in them or dips. You might have to scarify that particular section by hand or exercise caution and make adjustments for those areas in particular.
What to do After Scarifying
After the process is complete you need to help your lawn recover. The first thing you need to do is add a ferrous sulfate moss killer if you have a particular problem with moss.
You also want to add lawn grass seed. You should give your lawn a light sprinkling of seed and if you see fit, an application of fertiliser to help it recover. Fertilisers with potassium, specifically lawn-based fertilisers, are going to really help your lawn recover. The potassium in the fertilisers helps the lawn to fight off any of the stress brought about by the scarifying process.
If you opt to scarify in the autumn look for an autumn lawn feed fertiliser in particular. If you do it during the spring, look for a spring and summer mixture. You also want to, of course, give it a gentle watering if there’s no natural rain happening but if it does rain in your area within a few days after, you won’t have to supplement.
Doing all of this regularly will keep your lawn looking great!
Image credits – Shutterstock.com