What is scarifying
Lawn scarification plays an important role in any lawn care program. Scarification, sometimes known as dethatching is the process of removing organic matter (thatch) from lawns & turf.
Over a period of time thatch will build up in a lawn. This build up is caused by grass clipping, leaves, in fact any dead or decaying organic matter will add to the thatch layer.
A small amount of thatch in a lawn is considered desirable as it helps encourage a resilient sward. However when the thatch becomes too deep it creates problems and has a detrimental effect on the health of the lawn. Ideally lawns should be scarified on a regular basis to prevent the build up of thatch and prevent it becoming a serious problem sometime in the future.
When thatch becomes a problem it needs removing by intense scarification. For more information on this lawn problem please visit our thatch page. Thatch is removed by a powered machine with a series of vertically mounted spinning blades. These blades penetrate into the lawn and physically rake out the thatch. This machine is called a lawn scarifier or lawn rake.
There are many machines and implements available for this operation, from hand rakes to powered lawn rakes and scarifiers. A spring bok rake can be used for small areas where build up is not too severe. If large amounts of thatch needs removing a powered scarifier will be needed.
When to scarify or dethatch a lawn
Lawn scarification or dethatching can be undertaken any time during the growing season when grass growth is strong, avoiding periods of drought. Strong grass growth is important following scarification as this aids recovery as this operation can be very severe and the lawn needs sufficient time to recover.
Traditionally late spring (too remove moss after moss control has taken place) and late summer have been the two most popular time for heavy scarification. This is because it ties in well with the timing of spring and autumn lawn maintenance programs.
Lighter operations can be carried out frequently during the growing season to help prevent thatch build up. This will also help discourage any broad leaf weeds and help prevent lateral grass growth which in turn will give the lawn a nice clean finish.
How to scarify a lawn
Before you undertake this operation it is important to ensure the soil conditions are suitable for scarification. Ideally the soil should be moist, not too wet and not too dry.
Mow the lawn before you scarify as this will help with the task of cleaning up the debris that will be removed by the scarifier. Pick a nice dry day as this will also help with the clean up work, scarifying during wet weather is very messy as well as hard work.
Once you a satisfied that the conditions are right you can go ahead and scarify. Aim to do this operation twice, the second pass should be done at a 30 degree angle from the first pass.
Once this task is completed you can then go ahead and remove the debris, either with a trailed sweeper or similar, or by hand using a suitable rake.
Seeking professional advice on lawn scarifying
If you are new to this task it would be advisable to first seek professional advice before scarifying as using a scarifier incorrectly can result in severe damage to your lawn. This is especially true if your lawn has never received this treatment previously. So if you are unsure about this seek the advice of a lawn care specialist.