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How and when to Scarify your lawn

When growth and weather conditions allow, your lawn should be scarified to remove thatch and the matted and horizontal growth that has accumulated over time. This activity should engage the soil; grass is resilient and will soon grow back with a flourish.

Autumn is usually considered to be the best time to scarify because the lawn will have the remainder of the growing season and the whole winter to recover.  Spring is also a time when Scarification can be carried out, but consideration should be made that recovery might take longer if conditions turn hot and dry. Any over-seeding carried out at the same time might take longer to germinate due to the cooler soil temperature compared with Autumn.

Things to consider before Scarifying

The UK Lawn Care Association recommend regular scarification is carried out to your lawn to prevent excessive thatch build-up. This is because lawns with excessive thatch will not respond well to regular lawn treatments. They will also be difficult to mow and maintain for the home owner.   Your grass type, soil conditions and local environment will determine how often scarification is required, but many lawns benefit from scarifying once every two or three years whereas lawns which are more prone to the build-up of thatch may need it every year.

DIY Scarifying can be done by using your own scarifier, by hiring one from a local hire centre or by employing a local professional lawn care company. They are likely to have the best quality equipment, which will be far superior to that available to hire. As a result it will remove more thatch to give a better outcome.  If you have plenty of time and energy there is no reason why you should not tackle the job yourself.

We advise that you are well prepared prior to starting this task as it is very labour intensive, and it is likely that you will produce a huge mountain of thatch which will need raking up and disposing of.  Most lawns will need several passes with the scarifier to get down to the base of the grass plant where the bulk of the thick thatch will be hiding.

Scarified Lawn

How to Scarify your lawn

  • Start by mowing the lawn in two or three directions, lowering the mower each time to remove and collect the top growth of grass.
  • Using a heavy duty scarifier with solid tine blades, set the depth of the scarifier so that it brings up a decent amount of thatch without choking or stalling the machine. Proceed to scarify the entire lawn.  Once complete, rake up or mow to collect the arisings, this will take considerable time due to the density of the thatch.
  • Now you are ready for the second pass with the scarifier, lower the depth setting to go deeper in to the sward and travel diagonally across the lawn until you have covered the whole area. Mow up again.  Repeat this process several times in multiple directions until the thatch is removed and you can see the surface of the soil in the lawn sward.
  • Once the scarifying is complete, your lawn will look very bare. Have no fear, this is normal. The next step will be to carry out aeration using either hollow-tines or solid tines, and then to over-seed any thin or bare areas so the lawn can recover and look better than ever. For information and advice regarding aeration and over seeding please follow the links to these pages.

How long will my lawn take to recover from Scarification? 

The time it takes for your lawn to recover from scarification will vary depending on the time of year, weather and the condition of the lawn when you started. If conditions remain cold or dry, the lawn will take longer to bounce back. In most cases it will take 3-4 months for the lawn sward to adequately fill in, so you will need to be patient. However, if conditions are perfect you could be mowing again in a few weeks and amazed at how good the lawn looks.  No matter what the conditions, once the regrowth has reached about 60mm in height it is time to start mowing again.


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