How to scarify a lawn

Lawns provide the centrepiece to many of our English country gardens but the question is often asked: ‘How do you scarify a lawn?’

Scarifying a lawn is the process of removing dead thatch – the brown material found beneath the green grass. If left unattended, this can inhibit growth of new grass and prevent water and nutrients from reaching the roots, effectively suffocating your grass.

Ideally scarify your lawn twice a year and this will help to breathe new life into otherwise tired lawns.

For best results, carry out some preparation work first.

o Weeding or a weed killer application should be done a week before the lawn gets its makeover and this will stop the moss from invading the bare patches later.

o It is also advisable to mow the lawn about a week before to a height of about two centimetres. This will help to remove excess grass and reduce the thatch patches making the lawn easier to scarify or rake later.

It is important to remember to only scarify your lawn when it is dry. If the soil is too wet, your rake or scarifier may tear up healthy patches of lawn and cause damage.

Scarifying at the right or wrong time of year can make or break all the hard work you have put into your beautiful garden.

Winter scarifying should be avoided at all costs. Temperatures drop significantly between November and February and you may kill your grass completely if you try to rake it during this time when the grass is dormant. March too might seem more spring like but it is still too early to scarify the lawns.

The summer months of June, July and August should also be avoided as the temperature is too hot and the ground too dry. Drought slows grass recovery and scarifying at this time could do more harm than good. The best time to scarify is in September and again in the spring around April.

Don’t try to scarify new lawns - you must wait at least a year before scarifying or you could damage the new growth. 

And if parts of your lawn are under constant shade, scarifying in the autumn is not recommended. Instead leave these sections until the spring when the grass grows more prevalently.

Once you have the right time and temperature, it is time to get to work. To scarify your lawn, you will need a rake or a scarifying machine. This will effectively scratch the grass to remove the thatch and allow new grass to grow.

Using a rake can be hard work so pace yourself and be careful not to be too enthusiastic. Leaving a small amount of the thatch can protect the lawn and a top tip is to work in different directions across the lawn to ensure the thatch is removed evenly.

Alternatively, a scarifying machine or grass rake can do the heavy work for you with outstanding results. 

The results might look unsightly at first but the process of scarifying your lawn will pay dividends in the long run.

For more advice, on how to scarify a lawn ask one of our expert team at Poplar Nurseries – we are always happy to help.