Your grass may not be looking at its best. If it contains a large amount of moss or is looking particularly yellow, you may be tempted to scarify your lawn.
So when is the best time?
Answer: Late spring (mid-April onwards) and autumn (September) are good times to scarify your lawn, particularly if it is not too dry. You must scarify your lawn only when your grass is growing strongly.
- What is scarification?
- When exactly should I scarify my lawn?
- Which scarifier should I use or buy?
- Get rid of moss before you scarify
- Help – my lawn looks terrible after scarification!
- Autumn is the best time of year to scarify your lawn
What a lawn scarifier is, and how to use it
- What is a lawn scarifier?
- How to use a lawn scarifier
- When to use a lawn scarifier
- Are there any alternative tools?
- 10 best rakes
- Sneeboer, Ten Tines Soil Rake: £63.95, Harrod Horticultural
- Burgon & Ball, Mid Handled Shrub Rake: £16.99, Burgon & Ball
- Briers, Kids Soil Rake: £5.99, Briers
- Darlac, Rake & Shift: £21.99, Waitrose Garden
- De Wit Bow Tine Rake: £25.89, Crocus
- Bentley Garden Tidy: £19.99, BuyDirect4U
- Spear & Jackson Heavy Duty Lawn Rake: £28.99, Amazon
- Wolf Garten 4-in-1 Rake: £36.95, World Of Wolf
- Wilkinson Sword Plastic Leaf Rake: £24.99, Wilkinson Sword
- Darlac, Big Hands Leaf Collectors: £5.99, Crocus
- The Verdict: Best garden rakes
Weeds tangle in the tines of a soil rake, so they have to be removed first. Stony soils also baulk a garden rake. But you can remove some weed debris and stones with the right kind of rakes and method. Shorter long-handled rakes for borders are usually worked at a steeper angle and flat tines do the job. See my two raking methods ‘the gondolier’ and ‘the rowing’ methods. You can use the first with a sideways sweeping action to effectively usher stones and debris out of the way. Also note that flat faced garden rakes are well-used for gently making a level and evenly firm soil surface before sowing seed onto smaller areas. Curved tines are best on extra long-handled soil rakes. They glide out over the soil and gently lift the earth while being drawn back. Stones are lifted onto the surface. Seeds are gently covered with less piling up at the end. Wider spans are a must for landscaping and creating anything but the smallest lawn. The Bow Rake is designed to add strength to wider span rakes by attaching the handle to both sides instead of the centre. The Bow Rake shown on my links can be turned over and used to grade the soil level.
Soil rakes are however quite a blunt instrument…And I have found that adjustable spring rakes are quite good at preparing small areas of earth for sowing seed. Set them on narrow span and they roughen up the surface more finely for seed than a soil rake does. Hold at a very steep angle (the ‘gondolier’), with tines down and sweeping back and forth.
Actually the adjustable concept is to store the normally wide fan of a spring rake in a smaller space. You can draw the tines up the handle, using a continuously adjustable stop, and the fan width narrows. This enables you to rake into narrow spaces between vegetation. Wide spans deal with larger leaves and with fewer strokes. But I like to narrow the span to concentrate my effort. The adjustment also sorts small and larger sized debris. And on my adjustable garden rake when I twist the adjustable stop the flat ended tines rotate to become like cutting blades – although this wasn’t intended in design it may help you to scarify small areas. See below for scarifying rakes.
Modern leaf rakes have flat plastic tines with a deep bend. Use these to rake fall leaves into big piles. They feel like a big hand because of their ability to gather effectively. They are essential to manually deal with large piles of leaves. Find more garden rakes for leaves here.
- Spring Rakes
- A Rubber Wizard Rake
- Hay Rakes
- Scarifying Rakes – To Remove Moss And Scarify Lawns
- Gravel Rakes
- You’ll Find The Right Type OfGarden Rake To Do Your Job Below…
- Avoid Manual Labor with theseRakes For Large Gardens What you need to quickly clear up in the Fall Garden leaf sweepers, leaf blowers, leaf scoops, & leaf shredders are here. Mechanised Rakes, Scarifiers, Blowers… You can get £20 off £300 spend using Voucher Code: MowDirect20.
- Remember, when using manual garden rakes you can effectively narrow the tine spacing by using a sideways sweeping action. Find three ways to handle a garden rake:- ‘gondolier’, ‘rowing’ and ‘sweeping’ here.
- You’ll find lot’s more pages of information on other gardening tools by following these links:-
- Garden Gate
- My Neighbour’s Garden Plots
- The Right Rake for the Job
- What is Scarification?
- What is Raking & Scarifying?
- 2 What is scarifying?
What is scarification?
Scarification is the process by which the ‘undergrowth’ or thatch is physically removed from a lawn. It can be a harsh process and, initially, will make your lawn look worse but, ultimately, can make it much, much better. So, please have faith!
Bear in mind, however, that if you scarify your lawn at the wrong time of the year, you risk damaging it severely, particularly when grass is not growing strongly. I am constantly amazed that some of the lawn treatment companies promote expensive lawn scarification services at all times of the year. They are doing this to suit themselves and not your lawn. At the end of the day, there are only a few weeks of the year when scarification is recommended, but lawn companies can only scarify a small number of lawns in this period. I’ve seen many lawns damaged by lawn treatment companies as a result, and these lawns would have been better served by just being left alone!
When exactly should I scarify my lawn?
There are two times of the year when it’s best to scarify your lawn:
- late spring (mid-April onwards)
- autumn (September).
Please do not start too early in the spring as this can ruin your lawn! The perfect time for scarification is when the grass is growing strongly. So, avoid scarification in early spring when frosts may still occur. Ideally, the soil should be moderately wet but with a touch-dry surface. In late winter/early spring, we generally get some lovely warm days, and there is a temptation to scarify then. However, the grass is not yet growing rapidly, and the following days can often turn much cooler meaning that your lawn cannot recover.
For the best results, mow the lawn before scarifying.
You should also feed your lawn before scarifying.
Which scarifier should I use or buy?
A lot depends on the size of your lawn and the how quickly you want to get the job done. Doing the job by hand would be an extremely tiring and back breaking task!
If you are looking for a high-quality scarifier/lawn raker, you cannot go too far wrong with the Bosch AVR 1100 Verticutter Lawnraker.
Get rid of moss before you scarify
If you are suffering a significant amount of moss after the winter, you should apply moss killer a few weeks before scarifying. This will kill off the moss so, when it is removed, fewer moss spores will be spread. Also, the moss will come up easier.
Help – my lawn looks terrible after scarification!
Even if you scarify at the best time of the year, your lawn may look terrible immediately after its scarification. Provided that you have scarified at the right time of the year, you don’t have anything to worry about. After several weeks of strong grass growth, your lawn will look much better and will, eventually, look much healthier than it did before you started. To help your lawn recover, you should:
- water the lawn after it has been scarified (or time the scarification to be a few days before rain is due)
- overseed the lawn, particularly where there are bare patches (for example, where moss has been removed).
Good luck. In time, you will have an amazing lawn (well providing that you don’t keep cutting your grass too short).
Autumn is the best time of year to scarify your lawn
It is advisable to carry out aeration and over-seeding immediately after scarification which will give the lawn everything it needs to recover quickly.
Here are our top ten reasons to scarify your lawn:
- Too much thatch will cause deterioration in the quality of your lawn because it forms a spongy layer which chokes the lawn and prevents nutrient, air and water from being efficient in the lawn sward and root zone.
- Removing the build-up of unwanted thatch debris encourages fresh, more resilient grass growth resulting in a much healthier lawn.
- Fine lawns containing fescues and bents always require regular scarification because the root system contains rhizomes which readily build up thatch and need to be scarified to stay healthy.
- Lawns which have been over fertilised with too much nitrogen creating excessive top-growth will require regular scarification.
- Inappropriate mowing regime, wrong type of mower, blunt mower or incorrect mower settings are likely to make your grass lie flat causing thatch problems.
- Lawns grown on an inert soil type which does not contain enough naturally occurring bacteria to digest thatch often have thatch problems
- Scarifying removes moss and will make future moss ingression easier to control.
- Scarifying can rejuvenate a tired lawn and create enough space in the sward for over-seeding as part of the renovation process.
- Reducing thatch makes mowing much easier because the sward of the lawn is less spongy.
- Scarifying removes dead weeds which have been previously treated with selective herbicide.
You can see how Lawntech do it by clicking here to watch this video.
*Please note that none of the lawn care technicians are dressed in Lycra in the video so don’t be disappointed…
What a lawn scarifier is, and how to use it
If you’ve ever wondered what a lawn scarifier is and how to use it, take a look at our handy guide.
What is a lawn scarifier?
A lawn scarifier, sometimes referred to as a ‘dethatcher’, is a garden tool that is designed to cut through the soil, helping to remove dead moss and other debris like grass cuttings. The cutting action of the tool, either powered by electricity or a manual push action, also helps to aerate the soil, making it healthier, (almost) weed free and longer lasting.
The consequences of not scarifying your lawn and keeping up with other maintenance jobs can be devastating. If dead grass cuttings and moss are allowed to sit on the lawn’s surface they can prevent rain water from draining deep under the ground where it’s needed the most. Much of the water and moisture will sit on top making your lawn soggy and looking very sorry for itself. The layer of dead grass that sits on top of a lawn is sometimes known as a ‘thatch’, which explains the ‘dethatcher’ reference. Excess moisture can also encourage more moss growth, making the problem even worse.
How to use a lawn scarifier
So now you know what a lawn scarifier actually is, let’s take a look at some top tips on how to get the best out of your new garden tool.
Remove any debris from the lawn and apply a moss killer, rake out the dead moss in advance of scarifying
A few weeks before you intend to use a lawn scarifier, inspect your lawn for any live moss or debris. You need to get rid of this before you do anything else. Using a good moss killer, spread this over your lawn as per the instructions. This is a very important step as you don’t want to be spreading the airborne spores of living moss all over the garden with your scarifier, encouraging a moss epidemic!
Mow the lawn on a low setting
Once you are sure that the moss has died (it should look black or brown and dry) mow your lawn on a dry day, with the mower on a low setting. Doing this before using the lawn scarifier will mean that you can collect the cut grass simultaneously at the end of your job, before it has time to do any harm.
Scarify the lawn on a high setting
Start with the lawn scarifier on a high setting and go over the surface a couple of times. Then repeat the process at angles but reduce the severity of the settings on each pass.
Apply top soil and grass seed to finish
As an optional extra you could choose to add some more grass seed at the end of the process, a great idea if your lawn is looking tired. You should then cover the seed with a mixture of some fine compost and sharp sand to protect them while they germinate. This technique is often referred to as ‘over seeding’. With a little TLC your grass will be looking as good as new in a week or so.
When to use a lawn scarifier
The ideal time to scarify your lawn can vary depending on your location and the weather, but as a guide the best time is when the turf growth is at its most prolific. This growing season is normally in the autumn or late spring. As far as frequency goes, once a year is normally sufficient, or more often if your lawn is in bad condition with a lot of moss growth. Scarifying your lawn can take its toll on the grass and roots so you should always err on the side of caution.
Are there any alternative tools?
When scarifying your lawn there are actually other tools you can use to get a similar if not identical result. A simple garden rake is the most popular scarifier alternative, allowing you to control the pressure you put on the lawn with a more lightweight tool.
Depending on the size of your lawn you could use a small trowel to remove debris and a fork to aid aeration of the soil. There are also a number of combined tools on the market that incorporate a scarifier and rake allowing you to choose between the two functions. If you’re just looking to aerate, then why not try out a pair of lawn spikes.
10 best rakes
The raking of lawns and gardens is an important – albeit slightly onerous – part of maintaining your patch.
It’s not just a matter of making things look nice and tidy – the removal of garden matter from places where it shouldn’t reside will help reduce the chances of pests and diseases taking hold and, in cultivated areas, will help prep the soil ready for planting.
Rakes come in all shapes and sizes and it’s important to choose the correct rake for your task in hand.
Garden rakes are the springy, thin-tined type that are useful for clearing up duties on lawns, but will tend to spear fallen leaves, making their removal from rake to composting bin a tedious task. Garden rakes are primarily used to get rid of mossy thatch in lawns – a job best tackled in late spring and early autumn.
Soil rakes are hard toothed and long handled, these are best used for dragging through soil beds to help break down the earth prior to planting.
Leaf rakes are the ones with large heads and wide plastic tines. Although good for keeping lawns looking pristine throughout the year, they really come into their own in the autumn for gathering up leaf debris and grass clippings.
There’s racks of rakes on the market, but which ones to choose? We’ve been raking, scraping and combing our garden with some of the best.
Sneeboer, Ten Tines Soil Rake: £63.95, Harrod Horticultural
This Rolls-Royce of rakes is hand built from forged steel and has an ash shaft that’s so long and sturdy you could could use it to pole vault over a row of broad beans.
It’s a pricey tool, but for your outlay you’ll get a quality rake that boasts 10 talon-like tines to frighten your soil into submission.
The business end of the rake is so sharp you’ll let out an audible gasp when you remove the protective caps supplied, so make sure you store it away safely after use.
Burgon & Ball, Mid Handled Shrub Rake: £16.99, Burgon & Ball
Fans of Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon will spy this rake and be reminded of one handed baddy Han and his vicious, screw-on claw attachment.
Thankfully, this steel-fingered tool is not meant for violent martial arts mayhem, but for the genteel task of prizing leaves and plant debris out from amongst delicate border plants.
It has a smooth, ergonomic long reach handle and nice, fat tines (the width of cooked tagliatelle pasta) that ensure a swift, stress free tidy time.
Briers, Kids Soil Rake: £5.99, Briers
For anyone keen to get their kids into gardening a rake makes a great first tool – not only is raking one of the more enjoyable tasks for children but their efforts are likely to be helpful to you (whereas forks and spades usually lead to holes in the wrong places).
Avoid any garish plastic handled implements that are designed to look like a toy and go for a shorter version of a grown-up rake instead.
Briers products fit the bill, with sturdy wooden handles securely bolted to a strong, bright green plastic leaf rake head for under a fiver or a traditional metal soil rake head in natty orange.
These are quality tools that will last until long after they’re old enough to start borrowing your full-sized versions.
Darlac, Rake & Shift: £21.99, Waitrose Garden
This is a handy tool to have on call. Rake up leaves, then shovel them into your wheelbarrow or compost bin using the large bucket shaped head. It’s essentially a giant spork, complete with back-friendly curvy handle that helps prevent stooping whilst scooping.
We were dubious about the durability of the hard plastic tines, but they withstood our roughshod, over exuberant rake testing without breakage. It’s also useful for other, non-raking tasks; removing leaves from a pond, sifting muck from gravel driveways, eating giant Pot Noodles – that kind of thing.
De Wit Bow Tine Rake: £25.89, Crocus
Bow Rakes are the garden shed’s tough-toothed operators, designed to deal with patches of soil that are harder going than most.
De Wit’s light, ash-handled rake is fitted with a hand forged, carbon steel head complete with 13 menacing, curved tines. It’s sharp enough to easily rough up heavier soil and it can cope with stonier ground without buckling under pressure.
It’s easy to wield and comes with a lifetime guarantee, making it a great investment for both novice and professional gardeners.
Bentley Garden Tidy: £19.99, BuyDirect4U
This budget priced combo from Bentley features a leaf rake, dustpan and brush. All components are constructed from plastic, making them lightweight for nifty shifting of garden detritus.
The rake head and plastic bristled brush are a bit on the small size, so this set best suits the smaller lawn or yard. That said, the dustpan is double the size of an average hand dustpan and will gobble up plenty of garden garbage before it needs emptying.
After use, each component snaps together for easy storage in your shed.
Spear & Jackson Heavy Duty Lawn Rake: £28.99, Amazon
A nice, weighty trad rake that’ll handle most garden raking duties with aplomb. This one boasts 20 heat treated tines that are held securely in place with an extra rivet on the underside of the rake head.
Its bomb proof build makes it a touch on the weighty side, but the long hardwood shaft gives it balance to help ease you through long autumn raking sessions.
Wolf Garten 4-in-1 Rake: £36.95, World Of Wolf
This versatile 4-in-1 leaf rake from Wolf Garten can be assembled in 3 different widths (20cm, 48cm and 76cm) to cater for all your raking needs.
Use the central rake piece on its own for tackling small grassy pathways or clip on either one or two of the side rake extensions to form one massive, leaf-herding head.
You can also dual wield the side wings – sans pole – for close quarter leaf combat. The pole itself will need to be purchased separately, but can be used to host other tool heads in the Wolf Garten range.
Wilkinson Sword Plastic Leaf Rake: £24.99, Wilkinson Sword
This big-headed, plastic tined tool makes the gathering up of pesky leaves an absolute breeze.
Its light, wooden shaft and springy plastic tines makes it comfortable and speedy to work with – it also excels in gathering grass clippings for when you’ve not been bothered to fit the grass box on your mower.
Darlac, Big Hands Leaf Collectors: £5.99, Crocus
Technically not a rake, but we reckon Darlac’s tough plastic Big Hands are close enough for this list and they certainly make a cheap and cheerful addition to the raker’s rack.
The theory is simple: slide your fingers through the fixed straps and gather larger piles of raked up detritus than your own palms can manage, meaning less bending down and fewer trips to the compost bin.
Although they can be used for grass cuttings they really come into their own with leaves or hedge trimmings, enabling large scoops with minimal spillage, and are particularly useful if you’re shifting piles with pointy bits that might penetrate human skin.
The Verdict: Best garden rakes
For beasting soil beds into a fine grain ready for planting, reach for the excellent (if pricey) Sneeboer Ten Tines Soil Rake.
For speedy leaf leaf clearing duties, the Wolf Garten 4-in-1 rake will happily be your flexible friend. Grab yourself the Spear & Jackson, Heavy Duty Lawn Rake for dealing with pesky lawn thatch.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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A traditional rake for clearing leaves and debris from lawns and drives is the spring rake also known as a Springbok. I suggest you get the longest handle you can. With interchangeable tools you can save clutter with just one or two handles for all your tool heads.
Gardeners sometimes complain that the tines on spring rakes come loose. But tines are usually inserted in pairs as hair pin bent wires. See also adjustable spring rakes – I work mine hard with no problems.
But Alan Titchmarsh recommends … …
A Rubber Wizard Rake
These Wizard Rakes have curved rubber tines. The tines are flexible enough not to damage a lawn while lifting out all the dead leaves, petals and berries that have landed – they’re easy to use too.
However, I should add that an extra long handle is best for these jobs. Some are too short for my liking. Check out the Bulldog Premier Wizard Rubber Rake U.K. – (33 tines – 54″ ash shaft.)
You can also use Wizard Rakes to clear debris from gravel. Gravel rakes and scarifying rakes have a different purpose that’s described below.
But the Hay Rake is a more traditional design with round pegs of wood or metal. They are also used for clearing debris from grass and aggregate surfaces. The Longspan Rake on this link is an example – it’s ideal for gathering grass cuttings.
Scarifying Rakes – To Remove Moss And Scarify Lawns
The reason for scarifying lawns is to cut through and drag out organic debris. In some circumstances this debris consolidates on the surface beneath the grass blades. If left it can seal the surface and spoil your lawn.
You need a sharp instrument for this job. When done with an ordinary wire rake it can be hard exhausting work. And they are not as effective. The answer… Scarifying rakes have hooked tines designed to cut through the thatch and drag it out.
Gravel rakes may be used to grade and level aggregate surfaces. You can rake gravel into patterns and raking helps to maintain a neat and fresh appearance.
If you only want to remove debris from a gravel surface then you might choose a wide span Hay or Wizard rake as noted above. Otherwise you need a rake with tine spacings to suite the size of gravel that you are working with. Curved tines of the correct spacing help sort out larger from smaller aggregates.
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Garden Rake To Do Your Job Below…
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Avoid Manual Labor with these
Rakes For Large Gardens
- What you need to quickly clear up in the Fall Garden
leaf sweepers, leaf blowers, leaf scoops, & leaf shredders are here.
- Mechanised Rakes, Scarifiers, Blowers…
- You can get £20 off £300 spend using Voucher Code: MowDirect20.
- What you need to quickly clear up in the Fall Garden
Remember, when using manual garden rakes you can effectively narrow the tine spacing by using a sideways sweeping action.
Find three ways to handle a garden rake:- ‘gondolier’, ‘rowing’ and ‘sweeping’ here.
Check out my Garden Tool Shed for information on small garden rakes, larger garden tools from shedders to rotavators – and other handy gardening resources for the potting shed and garden.
Get more information about weed problems and how to tackle them.
Find organic gardening suppliers in your country from here.
My Neighbour’s Garden Plots
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The Right Rake for the Job
Autumn leaves are falling, which means pumpkin donuts and lattes are available at your favorite morning pit stop. And if you own a home, it probably means your weekends now include that annual rite of yardwork passage: raking.
I lived in NYC for the last 20 years, so it’s been a long time since I last picked up a rake. Standing in the garden tool section of our local big box hardware store to select one, I was a bit overwhelmed. There are a lot of different types of rakes—a lot. I surely don’t need, nor can I buy, them all. So which should I choose? A quick search through my favorite gardening resources provided answers.
Leaf rake. Photo: believejay.blogspot
If you’re raking leaves, what you need is a leaf rake, also known as a lawn rake (view example on Amazon). Sold in varying widths (up to 30″), it has a long handle with tines that fan out in a triangle. The tines are generally made of either metal, plastic, or bamboo. Metal is the most resilient, but perhaps not quite as effective as plastic tines when moving large quantities of leaves, especially if they’re wet. Bamboo tines are the most fragile, of course, but are much gentler on plants, if you are raking over groundcovers or garden beds.
Shrub rake. Photo: Hawaiidermatology.com
A shrub rake is built very much like a leaf rake. It has a smaller fan of tines, though, allowing it better access to the ground beneath shrubbery, around fencing, and in other tight areas of your landscape. Depending on your landscape and your needs, a shrub rake may be a worthy addition to your shed, especially considering that even top-quality tools of this type sell for under $20 (view example on Amazon). When purchasing, pay special attention to the length of the handle and note that some handles telescope in and out, a function that may be handy in some yards.
Garden bow rake. Photo: Twigandbloom.com
A bow rake (view example on Amazon) is generally considered homeowners’ best bet for leveling dirt, sand, and other materials that are heavier than leaves. The tines of a quality bow rake are made of metal and are shorter and thicker than those of a leaf rake (and spaced more widely). Basically, this type of rake is a workhorse—definitely something you want at your side if you have a gravel driveway, if your yard care routine includes seasonal mulching, or if you plan on doing any hardscaping projects yourself.
A hand rake is a smaller version of a shrub rake or bow rake. It has a short handle and is more or less the same size as a garden trowel. A hand rake is what you want to use in and around flowers and smaller plantings. The short handle gives you greater control in those tight spaces; just be prepared to get down on your knees with it. Expect to pay around $10 even for a model that can last for many years (view example on Amazon).
Thatch rake. Photo: easylawncarehelp.com
A thatch rake is not for raking leaves at all. It’s for removing thatch—a layer of organic material between your lawn and the soil surface. Unlike most other rake types, a thatch rake features sharp blades on both sides of its head. One side breaks the thatch up; the other side removes it.
Armed with the right rake, I’m ready for fall. Of course, our newly planted trees may not produce enough leaves to require raking this year. Nevertheless, I’m prepared.
And a city girl can dream, can’t she?
Scarification is the mechanical removal of surface thatch from a lawn. Surface thatch naturally forms on a lawn. However, when it gets too thick it prevents important nutrients such as water, fertiliser and oxygen from getting to the grass roots. The result is a mossy and spongy lawn. Scarification removes most of the surface thatch and should be a feature of any good annual lawn maintenance programme.
How can GreenThumb tell if my lawn needs Scarification?
Do you find your lawn suffers with moss in the autumn and winter time? Is the lawn spongy under foot? These are often signs that the lawn needs to be scarified. We also take core samples from the lawn and look at the depth of thatch below and above the soil line. Excess thatch above the soil line indicates a need for Scarification.
Read more information about thatch by clicking here. Scarification is included in the NutraGreen Enhanced and Complete Programmes.
Is lawn raking the same as Scarification?
Definitely not. Lawn raking, whether using a spring-tine rake or a raking machine, is the removal of moss on the lawn. Scarification using heavy duty flails (like knives) removes the cause of the moss, surface thatch. Moss is removed during this intrusive machine work, but its purpose is thatch removal.
Raking moss off a lawn is like using a handkerchief when you have the flu. Scarification is like having a flu vaccine; one addresses the effect, the other the cause.
When does GreenThumb carry out Scarification?
We carry out Scarification during the out-of-season growing period. Since lawns can look very untidy after Scarification, we avoid doing it when you want your lawn looking its best, even if it has surface thatch issues.
Scarification doesn’t remove all of the surface thatch in one go. Doing this would significantly reduce the amount of grass left on a lawn and this would be harmful. There is an art to scarifying a lawn and we recognise that all lawns are different, and this is reflected in our Scarification process.
What does GreenThumb do with all the thatch waste?
Since customers gardens and local authority garden waste collection policies vary throughout the country we don’t have one solution that fits everybody. We will always neatly bag the waste up, put it on your compost heap or in your waste bin. Your local GreenThumb branch will explain any other solutions they may have.
What is Scarification?
Scarification is a very important lawn operation and should only be completed with a professional machine. A scarifier is a powerful machine that removes the thatch layer, organic matter and debris between the lower leaf level of the lawn.
Scarification is not designed to remove all the moss from a lawn. However, scarifying will remove moss to a certain extent. But to use a machine solely with the intention of fully removing moss may cause unavoidable damage to your lawn.
The action of the scarifier will loosen moss, and during the process and for a few days afterwards, it will allow it to come to the surface.
The removal of thatch build-up is the main objective of scarification. The removal of this layer helps to reduce the build-up of moss in a lawn, therefore helping the lawn to recover to its peak condition. Avoiding scarification allows the thatch and debris level to increase, which can lead to further problems such as outbreaks of turf diseases and waterlogging.
What Is Thatch?
When SHOULD My Lawn Be Scarified?
The best time to scarify your lawn partly depends on the time of year. This will ensure that the process works as effectively as possible.
A light scarification can be beneficial during good growing conditions in the summer. However some lawns, particularly fine fescue grass lawns may need scarifying twice within a twelve month period, to allow the lawn to recover back to full heath.
Spring time onwards is the best time to have your lawn scarified as the lawn will recover much more quickly when it starts to grow. Autumn is also acceptable as the lawn will still grow at a quick enough rate to fully recover.
When SHOULDN’T My Lawn Be Scarified
You should not have your lawn scarified in the winter season as grass almost completely stops growing at this time of year, meaning it can take months to recover back to good health. Lawns can take longer to recover when the temperature suddenly plummets. Due to the slow recovery process in winter months, your lawn could also become very muddy. Any frost that is likely due will also have a significant impact on your lawn’s recovery.
Similarly, lawn scarification should not be completed in drought conditions either as grass can become very stressed during these periods.
When receiving a quotation, Lawn Master can help you to choose the best time to scarify your lawn. This would be based on the grass type, current weather conditions and the time of year.
It is best to combine scarification with other operations, such as over-seeding and top dressing. However, scarification is the first process that must be completed before considering these additional options.
Scarified Lawn – Thatch and debris bagged for disposal
After Scarification – Lawn has recovered to it’s peak condition
Lawn Master uses the latest pedestrian machines, which have bladed drums with tungsten tips that rotate at very high speed to pull out the thatch layer from the turf.
Many people believe that a lawn raker is capable of achieving the same results as a scarifier. However, scarification should not be confused with a lawn rake. Using a small DIY electric powered machine can cause more harm than good when used incorrectly.
Domestic lawn rakers are only suitbale for very specific purposes where professional machines are less suitable, as Matt Evans explains in the video below.
After scarification, lawns need to be kept moist. Afterwards, a fertiliser application can be applied to speed up growth and recovery. Over-seeding and top dressing are optional proccesses that can be applied afterwards to help to form a base for holding nutrients for the future months.
Please discuss this lawn treatment with your local Lawn Master outlet.
What is Raking & Scarifying?
What is scarifying?
The term scarifying means different things to different people. If you were a gardener you would be giving the lawn a good scarifying in the spring to remove any dead grass and improve the quality and appearance of the lawn.
So, what does a gardener actually do? A gardener would use a rake or a cassette in his mower to remove the dead foliage. This would be in the form of a spring tine rake or a spring tine cassette in the mower. This type of ‘scarifying’ would not damage the soil surface, and would not matter if it did.
But, what about the amateur groundsman looking after a bowls green? In the spring he would be expected to carry out a form of ‘scarifying’ to reduce the lateral growth in the sward, and also remove the dead foliage.
For this, a cassette would be used in a professional mower or a specific machine designed for this purpose. These machines use a series of three-pointed sharp blades that will cut the lateral growth and thin the sward to encourage new growth. Again, if the blades mark the surface of the soil, it will not cause any serious problems because a bowls green is usually a high sand content soil.
Now, we come to the amateur cricket groundsman. What happens in the spring on a cricket square? Again, some form of ‘scarifying’ is likely to take place, but the problem arises as to what method of scarifying should be used.
During the autumn renovations vigorous scarifying takes place to remove thatch – an organic matter build up at the surface of the soil. This needs to be removed to ensure a good playing surface for the following season.
The gardener’s lawn also benefits from thatch removal in the autumn as this will help nutrient, air and water to enter the soil profile, and will also help to reduce the activity of casting worms.
The same applies to the bowls green and the cricket square. The machine designed for this purpose has a series of tungsten tipped blades strong enough to enter the surface, and remove the thatch. This does not cause any lasting damage to the surface as a topdressing of suitable soil is applied, and overseeding takes place. The surface has the whole winter to regenerate and recover, with no lasting damage.
Now, back to the spring on a cricket square. If any marking of the surface takes place at this time of year the damage will be detrimental to the playing quality of the surface, and could take a long time to recover. The question is what type of ‘scarifying’ should take place. In the spring I would not recommend using a bladed scarifier or verticutter that is used on a bowls green, unless you are a very experienced person and have a very level surface.
The soil on a cricket square has high clay content and, if it is slightly marked with the cutting blades, will cause fault lines in the soil. When the soil dries it will crack along those lines, causing an unpredictable surface. This can be seen on some cricket squares as the ‘cubing effect’.
I have encountered this problem on more than one occasion when inspecting cricket squares in the spring. I suggest that a lawn rake be used to remove the dead organic matter, at this time, to avoid damaging the soil surface. This should also be used in the preparation of pitches throughout the season, together with the brush attachment or a power brush.
When deciding to ‘scarify’ at any time, think about the type of work you need to do and the surface you are working on, taking into account the time of year the work is to be carried out.
What is scarifying?
Scarification is a thatch control and pruning technique which helps to keep the lawn healthy and promotes a thicker, lush lawn, reducing the risk of disease, weeds and moss issues.
What is thatch ?
Over time your lawn develops thatch – a fibrous matter made up of dead parts of the grass plant including the crown, stolons and rhizomes. Without removing this dead matter your lawn will quickly deteriorate, making it especially vulnerable to moss, disease, weeds and stress in periods of drought.
What is the purpose of thatch?
Thatch keeps the grass plant cool in hot weather and helps your soil retain warmth when it is cold. Without thatch your lawn will be baked dry when it is hot and become muddy in the wet.
How much thatch should my lawn have?
As a general rule of thumb we’re looking for a quarter to half an inch of thatch at the start of the year.
Why can too much thatch be a problem?
If your lawn has too much thatch not only will it suffer from disease, weeds and poor water and nutrient penetration, left to its own devices thatch will start to build in your lawn where the grass starts rooting to it.
A lawn with a lot of thatch might feel spongey under foot, it could also be difficult to cut as the mower will sink into the lawn potentially causing scalping issues.
Once this happens your lawn is at a critical situation as the grass grows roots into the thatch to survive because this is where the water a nutrients are stored, not in the soil which will be dry and nutrient deficient.
What are the benefits of scarification?
- Encourages a thicker, lusher and more resilient lawn
- Reduces your lawns susceptibility to disease
- Removes the dead matter from the surface of the lawn, helping it breathe
- Refreshes a lawn, helping it to absorb water and nutrients more effectively
- Helps reduce moss & weeds
- Stops it becoming ‘spongy’
- It is one of the most beneficial treatments that can be done to your lawn
Regular scarification will strengthen your lawn against moss and weeds, encouraging thicker growth.
Get rid of the moss after scarification
Renovation scarification is an essential part of the autumn work for moss heavy lawns, (September is usually best) in preparation for the winter months. At this stage of the year, if lawns are showing signs of moss, the scarification process is used before a moss killer has been applied. There is a common misconception that the moss needs to be killed before scarification. It is unlikely that all the moss is killed when applying moss killer, so scarifying after applying moss killer puts your lawn at risk of spreading moss spores, which are invisible to the eye, back across your lawn – rather counter intuitive!
When is the best time for scarification?
Simply, the perfect time to scarify is when the grass is growing strongly. We’d avoid scarifying your lawn when frost may occur and in dry conditions as it will take your lawn longer to recover, putting it at unnecessary risk to deterioration.