Tips & Advies
5 MIN 16 Apr
Last update: 06 Dec 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Lawn Scarification

What is scarifying? Why do you need to do it regularly and how do you get the best results? Here's how to go about it.

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Jump into the world of scarifying! Discover what it means, understand why it is necessary to scarify your lawn regularly, and discover the steps to achieve the best results. Follow our hands-on guide to give your lawn the care it deserves for a green and healthy look!

Table of contents:
Show all
  • What is scarifying?
  • Why do I need to scarify my lawn?
  • When should I scarify my lawn?
  • Manual or machine?
  • The roadmap

What is scarifying?

Scarifying is a crucial maintenance technique to remove moss or dead organic matter, also known as the thatch layer. This organic layer suffocates the lawn. It can be seen as a form of vertical mowing, designed to give the grass more space for optimal growth.

wheelbarrows

Why do I need to scarify my lawn?

Grass needs space between its plants to thrive, but this space is often taken up by unwanted elements such as moss, weeds or a thatch layer. The thatch layer consists mainly of undecomposed dead organic material, creating a suffocating barrier between the grass and important elements such as water, light, air and nutrients.

By regularly scarifying, you effectively remove the thatch layer and restore grass plants’ access to these essential elements. Moss has a similar suffocating effect on the grass, preventing a lush lawn. Removing moss mechanically via scarification gives the grass room to develop horizontally, resulting in a dense and beautiful lawn.

If lawn problems go untreated and a stubborn thatch or moss gets the upper hand, scarifying becomes an integral part of a lawn renovation. It is an important aspect of lawn maintenance that should ideally be carried out annually. Depending on the condition of your lawn, it can be a considerable job, but the satisfaction of a healthy lawn is worth it.

We have created a scarifying kit especially to make things easier. This kit contains all the necessary products, making the lawn recover faster, preventing the return of weeds and preventing soil acidification, which reduces moss regrowth.

For scarifying the lawn
Front image of Scarifying Kit
For scarifying the lawn
Scarifying Kit
  • Controls weed growth
  • Restores your grass quickly after scarifying
  • Contains everything you need to make your scarifying project a success

When should I scarify my lawn?

Scarifying is most effective when your lawn is in a growth period, which is typically in spring (March to May) and autumn (late August to October).

It is important to remember that grass does not grow below a soil temperature of 10 degrees Celsius. Therefore, use the soil temperature as a yardstick, not the outside temperature, as the soil needs more time to reach the right temperature. Generally, this tends to be at the beginning of March, but measuring is important here.

Choose a day with pleasant weather – not too hot and not too sunny. This not only makes the task more pleasant for you, but is also beneficial for the grass. An overcast day and a light rain shower wouldn’t hurt either!

Scarifying rake

What time of day is best?

Since scarifying leaves small wounds on the grass plants, which can promote dehydration, avoid performing this task in full sun. If unavoidable, choose the end of the day when most of the heat has subsided. After scarifying, proper fertilising and thorough watering of the lawn is essential.

How often I scarify my lawn?

For a lawn with significant thatch and moss, annual scarification is essential to maintain control. If the felt layer is less than 1 cm, every other year is sufficient.
If the layer is 2 cm, it is required annually, especially if grass clippings are left behind, which encourages its growth.

Manual or machine?

You have a choice between a scarifying rake and a scarifying machine.

Scarifying with scarifier

Manual scarification is time-consuming and not recommended for lawns larger than 150 square metres.
When machine scarifying, you can choose between an electric or petrol scarifier. Lawns larger than 500 square metres often require the petrol option due to the limited reach of the cord. For significant moss removal, the extra power of a petrol engine is recommended.

Since a scarifier is needed annually, renting may be more economical than buying one. These can often be rented from garden centres, DIY stores or local garden machine specialists.

scarifier

Want to learn more about all of this? Have a peek here.

The roadmap

Ready to get busy? Follow these steps for maximum results!

Step #1: Mowing the lawn short

It’s important to mow the lawn properly before you get started. If you don’t do this, you will find that the job will be very tough! Mow the grass at a height between three and five centimetres to make the job easy for yourself.

Read up on our tips on mowing the lawn here.

Step #2: Scarifying

A common mistake is going too deep into the ground with the tools, making the task unnecessarily heavy. A maximum depth of 5 millimetres is sufficient for moss removal and promotes the release of growth hormones for the repair process.
When in doubt, it is best to start at the most unremarkable spot and assess the result.

Step #3: Repeat, for optimal result

Repeat the process at least twice for full coverage. Work longitudinally first and then at a 45-degree angle to reach every part of the lawn.

Why scarify at a 45-degree angle instead of perpendicular to the first direction?

Easier work for the operator
Less strain on the machine
Less intensity for the lawn
Faster recovery of the turf

If the lawn is in poor condition, a third round of scarifying may be necessary.

Step #4: Aftercare

Scarifying can stress the lawn. Immediately after the process, the grass needs fertiliser and water. Optional, but recommended, is to sow new grass seed. This prevents weed growth in the thinned lawn and promotes a youthful lawn with high reproductive capacity.

Read more about the benefits of supplementary seeding here.

After scarifying, use a nitrogen-rich fertiliser such as our fast-acting lawn fertiliser. This is because nitrogen stimulates leaf development, which helps recovery.

After fertilising, the grass seed can be sown. Our Sports & Fun grass seed is ideal for this.

Make sure the lawn does not dry out by watering it thoroughly immediately after fertilising and sowing. Daily watering for a fortnight is necessary unless rain is forecast.

This lawn transformation is just the beginning!

Dive deeper into the world of green here.

Have any questions or want to know more? Feel free to contact us, or leave a comment below!

Louis Hooft
Founder & Lawn expert
Introducing Louis Hooft, the founder of MOOWY and your reliable expert. With a profound love for stunning lawns and extensive experience in garden maintenance, Louis is here to assist garden enthusiasts in achieving a greener and livelier outdoors than ever before. Count on Louis for invaluable tips, clever tricks, and top-notch products to make your garden flourish!
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  • What is your lawn care goal?
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    2. B. A more lush, dense lawn
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    5. E. Laying out a new lawn
    6. F. Combating moss
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    2. B. Summer
    3. C. Autumn
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    2. B. My lawn is used intensively (e.g. by children & pets)
    3. C. I have a decorative lawn
    4. D. I have a standard lawn without special features
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    2. B. I want to overseed my existing lawn
  • Describe your lawn:
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    2. B. My lawn will be used intensively (e.g. by children & pets)
    3. C. I would like to have a decorative lawn
    4. D. I would like to have a thick and strong lawn
  • How bad is the moss problem in your garden?
    1. A. Bad. My lawn is covered in moss.
    2. B. Just a few spots
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