WHAT, WHY, HOW

Lawn Scarification
scarify 4 edited Pixlr 1

WHAT, WHY, HOW

Lawn Scarification

Introducing lawn scarification

Scarification is often misunderstood and used incorrectly or for the wrong reasons. But done properly, scarification is a very useful part of good lawn care, so it is important to understand the purpose and the techniques.

mid scarification

What is Lawn Scarification?

Good scarifying photo
Scarify to MAINTAIN a healthy lawn

Scarification is primarily for pruning the grass plants. It also helps to control the thatch layer which, in turn discourages moss. And if you do get moss, scarification can help in the moss removal too. Hence it ‘spring cleans’ the lawn, removing unwanted material, reducing the conditions that diseases and moss love, and encouraging stronger grass spread and growth. Let’s see how each of these works:

PRUNING: As with many plants, lawn grasses require pruning to encourage healthy growth. Scarification slices through the sideways-growing shoots and stolons. And this is how bents and fescues (our native grasses), re-develop into thickening the sward, often without ever needing to overseed your lawn.

THATCH CONTROL: Scarification also helps to prevent the thatch layer from becoming too dense by raking up the loose organic debris. 

MOSS CONTROL: By itself, scarifying does NOT kill moss, but it certainly helps to remove dead or dying moss. However, scarifying BEFORE applying moss control is also useful as it enables the moss control to reach to the bottom of the moss plants where it is the most effective.

Do I have to scarify my lawn?

E401 Working

If you want a healthy, happy lawn then the answer is ‘Yes’.  You will also save time in the long run by reducing any moss problem. You can hire machines or even purchase some smaller affordable machines.

So, how often should I scarify?

Although you are pruning the grass you are also removing some thatch, so frequency depends to some extent on how much thatch is accumulating. Once a year is a good minimum but of course doing lawn scarification twice a year (Spring and Autumn) will leave you with less post-scarification waste to clear AND your lawn will recover much faster.

When is the best time for lawn scarification?

eliet scarifier blades

Underside of Eliet E401 - ideal for small/medium lawns

Your grass must be actively growing and tillering so that it can recover easily and grow to fill in the spaces left by scarifying. This means you must scarify in Spring and/or Autumn. However, as the operation will initially thin out the lawn, you need to make sure the weather conditions are favourable for the lawn to fill back out again. March/April and September/October can be the best times, with sufficient rainfall and warmth to encourage regrowth. 

What type of scarifying machine should I use?

For small areas you can use a springbok rake, but it is hard work and doesn’t give you the important bonus of ‘pruning’ or tillering. So, use a proper machine like an Eliet scarifier, but choose one with the appropriate blades:  

FIXED BLADES: These are the standard blades, equally effective for moderately heavy thatch control and especially for light pruning or maintenance scarification.

fixed blade

FLAIL BLADES: These are the heavy-duty blades that do what they say by attacking a very heavy thatch or moss lawn.

flail blade

WIRE BLADES: Machines with these are basically mechanised wire rakes, and only good for removing light material, perhaps after a heavier scarification.

wire blade

Lawn scarification process

It is much like mowing, but two passes across the lawn will give better results. Remember, the aim is NOT to remove all of the moss as this causes too much damage to the thatch and the grass itself. If the machine labours, it generally means you’re going too deep, so comb some material out where possible.

What will my lawn look like after scarifying?

Scarifying is a messy process but your lawn will soon recover (providing you scarify at the right times of year). However, you don’t want to disturb the surface too much after scarifying, so remove the debris with a blower, a besom or a leaf rake.

post scarification
Newly-scarified lawn
7 days following scar moss MOSS OR SCAR
A cleaned-up healthy lawn several days after scarifying

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