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Gardening DIY: What is a lawn scarifier and how to use it


What is scarifying?

Scarifying is a process that you carry out to remove organic matter (mostly moss, weeds and previous grass cuttings) from around the base of your grass. It removes this lateral growth and helps to aerate the soil – which promotes healthy, uniformed growth. It’s a really important task. If you don’t do it, your lawn will start to struggle. Light can’t reach the roots of the grass and rainwater won’t drain into the grass (or reach the roots). You can also end up with water sitting on the surface, making your lawn soggy, unattractive and unusable.

Do I need to do it?

Probably, yes. To check, get down on your knees on your lawn. Have a good look. Push your fingers through the surface of your lawn to find the surface of the soil. If your lawn is in rude health, there will be very little dead organic matter that you have to push through to find the surface of the soil. If, on the other hand, you have a bit of resistance looking for the surface of the soil, then you need to scarify. It’s something that everyone should aim to do once a year, to help maintain a healthy-looking lawn. Aim to do it in spring or early autumn, for maximum benefit.

How do I start?

You’ll need a lawn scarifier. So, call us. We offer a 5.5hp petrol-powered version or a 240v electric version. You can hire them by the day.

But let’s rewind a wee bit. Before you start there’s, some important prep-work you need to do (or check if it needs doing). Look to see if you have moss. If you do, we’d advise putting down a moss control treatment at least two weeks before you plan to scarify. Some people will tell you that scarifying will remove moss. Which is true. But you run the risk of spreading moss spores across your whole lawn during the scarifying. So, save yourself some hassle and treat it first.

You’re also best to cut your lawn at least three days prior to scarifying. Cutting your grass will clean the surface of the grass, removing any leaves, twigs and other debris. Leaving the surface clear and ready to be treated. 

Scarifying your lawn

Okay, so you’ve got your scarifier and you’ve done your moss treatment and preparation cutting of the grass. Make sure the weather isn’t awful and prepare to start. Firstly, you should check that the scarifier’s blades are running at the correct height. It’s best to start with the machine as high as it will go. Then start on a flat area of your lawn and lower the blades until they are just making contact with the soil. Test on a small area to make sure you’re pulling out debris (but not destroying the grass).

Once you’re happy with the set-up, you can get cracking. Cover your lawn travelling in the same direction – north to south or east to west, not round and round.

And again?

After you’ve completed your first pass, bag up the waste and debris that has come loose. Then have a look and see if your lawn is clear, or if there is still some dead grass, roots and weeds lurking. Most lawns will need more than one pass to get them into prime condition (as most lawns haven’t been scarified terribly often). If you do have to make another pass, switch the direction of your scarifying. So, if you went east to west the first time, go north to south this time.

Once you’re happy with the way the surface looks you can pack up your scarifier. But there are still a few more things to do to keep your lawn in perfect condition. 

Treat your lawn to overseeding

Once you’ve completed scarifying your lawn, you might want to overseed to bring your lawn back to full health. The best time to do this (to give the seed the best chance to grow) is autumn. It helps introduce a uniform colour to your grass and helps fill in any areas that have been left thin from the scarifying. Make sure you use a good-quality spreader to ensure even coverage.

Feed your lawn

Keep the ground moist, but not wet. Do this with regular light applications from your sprinkler. You’re aiming to keep the seeds from drying out, without watering them so heavily that they get washed away. You can add fertiliser, if you think your lawn needs it. Try to keep people (and pets) off the grass as the seeds start to grow. And once you’re ready to mow the lawn, try raising the height of your mower blades for the first couple of times.

It’s hard work scarifying your lawn. But with a lawn scarifier it’s a much more straightforward job. And you’ll have a lawn your neighbours will be jealous of.

Whatever gardening work you’re thinking of doing, we have equipment that can help and make the whole job a lot easier. Get in touch if you have any questions – we’ll be happy to help.

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Click here to go directly to our online lawn scarifier hire page.

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