Scarifying your lawn in Spring
Updated: Mar 7
What is Scarification?
Scarification is using a petrol or electric machine, that has blades that move at speed, cutting through the soil, helping to remove moss and thatch. This helps water and air access the root zone of the grass, making the plant healthier. Thatch is the dead, organic material (like grass cuttings) that builds up in all lawns over time.
Why should you remove the moss and thatch from your lawn?
Thatch sits on top of the soil in your lawn and reduces the amount of air and water getting to the root zone of the grass plant, preventing the grass from thriving. The thatch acts as a barrier to the rain, leaving the surface damp during autumn and winter, creating the perfect conditions for moss to thrive. The moss acts as an extra barrier to the water and air, but it also blocks the light from reaching the grass leaf. These things lead to unhealthy grass, which in turn, enables weeds to infiltrate the lawn.
Firstly, it helps to reduce the recovery time if the grass is short, so mow the lawn before you scarify, but follow the golden rule of not cutting more than 1/3 of the grass blade off.
Set the scarifier up, so that the blades are just breaking the surface of the soil. Do a little test patch, rake off the debris and check the depth. If you are scarifying on a yearly basis you shouldn't need to go very deep to remove a sufficient amount of thatch. Like all lawn care jobs, little and often is best, particularly in aggressive procedures like scarification.
We would normally do a double pass (perform the scarification procedure twice in two different directions), but it depends on much thatch you need to remove. It is important to remember that the larger the change in direction on the second pass the more stress you will put the lawn under. Try a 30 degree change from the direction of the first pass, but this will also take less thatch out than say a 90 degree change.
Now for the clear up. This can be a time consuming process, as you need to get up as much of the loose thatch and moss as possible, as it will just go back into the turf to build up the thatch layer again. We use back pack blowers to save time, but using a rake is fine too.
I think you will be surprised at the amount of waste you are left with, particularly if a professional grade scarifier is used.
It is a good idea to then treat the lawn with a moss killer to kill any remaining moss that the scarifying process didn't remove (see the previous blog on the benefits iron sulphate). Also applying a slow release spring fertiliser will aid the recovery process, leading to a much improved lawn by the summer time.
That's it, I hope this helps you understand the process and aids you in tackling the job yourself, if you are so inclined. If this has failed in motivating you to DIY, then we, at Wylde Green Garden Services are more than happy to come and give you a free quote. Sometimes, these rarely performed tasks are better left to the professionals, quite often we can carry out the job for less than it would cost to hire the equipment and buy the fertiliser.