Scarifying is the process of digging into the grass, creating slits in the lawn to remove the build-up of thatch and other organic detritus like moss, beneath the new growing shoots of grass.
It is an important part of dedicated lawn care, as thatch can choke new growth, stealing nutrients and water and gradually undermine the health of a lawn.
Thatch is made up of dead and dying grass shoots and is part of the life cycle of a lawn. As the new shoots grow these defunct shoots drop beneath the surface of the lawn. However, these dead shoots do not decay, due to a polymer present in their molecular make-up. This means they build up and can choke a lawn.
it is easy to tell or to work out if you have a thatch problem.
- Your lawn may feel excessively springy and bouncy
- Look carefully at the lawn. Can you see any soil between the grass? If not, you could well be looking at a bed of thatch
- Take a core sample, about 3 or so inches should do (you could use an apple corer or a trowel to do this) if the thatch layer is more than about half an inch thick, you need to scarify
A scarifier uses blades, usually curved, or sprung tines to remove deeply embedded thatch, moss and other organic detritus from below the surface. As part of this process, slits are created which further aerate the lawn enabling water and air to get in.
It is possible to scarify with a rake, and moss is often removed this way, but this is highly labour intensive and potentially inefficient and you are unlikely to remove enough thatch if it has become dense and widespread, so it is probably more efficient, fast, easy and accurate to carry out this task out with a dedicated mechanical scarifier.
Mechanical scarifiers can be powered by hand, by petrol, electric or even by batteries.
There are a few different types of scarifier.
- Scarifiers with curved sharp blades, as detailed above
- Those that use tines (rather like a rake) designed mainly for the removal of moss. Although they are generally included in the scarifier category, they are also sometimes called mechanical lawn rakes.
- Combi scarifiers that include tines and blades
- Combi aerator/scarifiers that include dedicated aerating blades as well.
There is more information on scarifiers on these pages and if you want to have a look for yourself, we have a large range of scarifiers of different types on these pages.