Lawn Scarifying For Beginners

    Thatch is naturally occurring and is essential for a healthy lawn. However too much can damage your garden, encouraging moss and disease to affect your lawn. To achieve the perfect balance, you should scarify your lawn once or twice a year. 

    What Is Thatch?

    Thatch is the build-up of dead and living grass that has intertwined and formed a layer between the grass and the soil. A thin layer of thatch is essential for a healthy lawn and protects the grass and soil from harsh weather and disease.
    Thatch only becomes a problem when it becomes too thick. A thick layer of thatch prevents sun, rainwater and nutrients penetrating the soil and reaching the roots. Thick thatch layers also create a suitable habitat for pests and garden diseases, which may damage your lawn.

    What Is Scarifying And What Are Its Benefits?

    Scarifying is beneficial to your lawn as it removes excess material and allows your grass the room to breathe. It also helps to minimise the appearance of moss and diseases. As moss uses spores to breed, removing thatch is the best way to remove these spores and discourage further growth.

    When To Scarify Your Lawn?

    Which season is best?
    For the most part, it’s best to scarify your lawn twice a year. Once at the beginning of the mowing season around March, and again at the end of September before the cold of winter sets in.
    This ensures that a thin layer of thatch is left for the entire year. Avoid scarifying in the summer or winter months.
    If you have shady areas in your garden, it is best to scarify only once a year in the spring to allow for regrowth. Scarifying in autumn will thin the grass without allowing it to grow, potentially making thatch much worse.
    How to prepare your lawn for scarifying
    Short grass is ideal for scarifying your lawn. Longer grass is not impossible, but it requires more time, effort and patience to achieve. You should cut the grass with a lawn mower a couple of weeks before you plan to scarify the grass. This will ensure the grass is a suitable length to dethatch and it will minimise the stress on the grass.
    Which weather conditions are best?
    Whichever season you choose to scarify in, you will need plenty of sun to allow the grass to grow strongly afterwards. However, you should avoid scarifying your lawn in extremely dry conditions. Similarly, avoid scarifying the lawn in cold or overly damp conditions.

    Garden Tools Required To Scarify

    Moss killer
    If you have a moss problem, use moss killer a week or so before you plan to scarify. This will make the moss easier to collect up and prevent it from sporing further as you scarify.
    Handheld lawn rake
    A simple hand-held lawn rake is ideal for collecting thatch from your lawn. It takes some effort and energy but is achievable. You should always wear a pair of good quality gardening gloves to prevent your hands from blistering, or getting cut on anything sharp that may be in the lawn when you pick up the debris.
    Electric lawn rake
    The easiest solution is an electric garden rake or scarifier like the Flymo Lawnrake Compact 3400. These are relatively inexpensive and take all the hard work out of looking after your lawn. Electric lawn rakes will also collect the thatch and any moss up, allowing you to dispose of the waste quickly and easily.

    How To Scarify Your Lawn

    1. Mow your lawn and lay moss killer a week before you plan to scarify.
    2. Water your lawn a couple of days before so that the grass is moist but not wet when you scarify.
    3. Use a rake or an electric rake to remove the layer of thatch on top of your lawn. The aim is to tease the thatch away so be gentle if you are using a rake. Avoid pulling up the grass itself.

    After Scarifying

    Once you have removed the thatch and moss from your lawn, it is important that you encourage the grass to grow. Add a good lawn fertiliser to encourage growth and water lightly for the next few days or as required. This will help the grass grow thicker and more quickly.
    You may also wish to sow extra grass seed in any balding areas of your lawn. If you have bald patches in shady areas, use grass seed that is specifically for this purpose. You can find different types of seeds at most garden centres.
    While you’re scarifying, you may accidentally lift bumps in your lawn. These are easily fixed after scarifying by over-sowing and using lawn flattening methods.