Keep your grass green - and make your neighbours green with envy - with this handy guide on when to scarify your lawn.

Scarify your lawn

What is lawn scarifying?

Okay, first things first, just what exactly does “scarification” mean? While it may, at first glance, seem like something you would associate with horror movies, the real definition is luckily far less sinister.

Scarifying a lawn – also known as de-thatching – is essentially the process of removing thatch and moss from a garden surface (hence the aptly named alias). The word “scarify” is actually pronounced “skah-rify” – as opposed to “scare” (like Scary Movie) or “scar” (a la Scarface).

But how do you scarify a lawn? Well, say hello to my little friend…the scarifier!

While that name could also very easily pass as a horror movie title, the scarifier is anything but horrifying. This handy tool uses rolling blades to trim and remove thatch, moss and debris, keeping your lawn looking lush and healthy.

Scarifiers typically come in two forms: manually operated and machine powered. Machine scarifiers come with either an electrical or petrol-powered motor and boast self-rotating blades. Meanwhile, the manual version features simple, push/pull operated rollers on the end of a long handle – imagine the bigger, more talented brother of the humble rake and you won’t be far off.

When to scarify lawn surfaces

If your lawn has begun to possess a yellowy tinge, it could be time to break out the scarifier. After all, nobody wants a lawn that looks ill and on its last legs.

That being said, there are certain times of the year that are more suitable than others. Late spring and early autumn are considered to be the two best times to scarify your lawn, capitalising on both the weather and the conditions of the ground.

Most garden experts agree that the ideal time to scarify your lawn is when your grass is growing strongly. If you scarify at the wrong time of year when your grass isn’t growing as fast, you risk damaging your lawn severely.

Dusting off the scarifier too early can ruin your lawn, so be patient and don’t jump the gun – that lawn isn’t going anywhere. Similarly, if you miss your window and are tempted to scarify in the wintertime, do so at your peril. You could leave your lawn exposed to the cold weather making it more difficult for your grass to recover.

It’s also advisable to scarify your grass when it’s had a little rain and isn’t too dry. A lawn that’s moderately moist underneath but dry to the touch is ideal, making for the perfect time to unleash your inner horticultural handyman.

Finally, remember that scarifying can be an extremely stressful process for your lawn, so try to time it to coincide with good weather conditions to follow. Chances are that the grass is still going to need a few days to recover, so try to make the aftermath as comfortable as possible.

Top tips for scarifying your lawn

While timing is everything when it comes to scarifying your garden, there are also a few handy hints and tips you can employ to help give your lawn a fighting chance of flourishing.

Mowing your lawn a week prior to scarifying can be a great way to prep your garden for its impending makeover. This will remove excess grass and dice up any thatch patches, making it easier to shift later on.

Similarly, you may also want to apply moss killer to your lawn a week or so before your scheduled scarify day. This will ensure the moss is dead and prevent it from spreading any further during the scarifying process.

For the best results, it’s also a good idea to water your grass a couple of days before scarifying, if the weather is fine. Alternatively, you could just hold off scarifying your lawn until a day or two after a bout of rainfall and save yourself a job.

Whatever you do, don’t scarify when it’s wet – you could end up yanking out the grass by the root, removing the grass itself as well as the thatch. If your lawn does seem a little bare post-scarification, you may want to scatter some additional grass seed. This can help create a thicker, greener lawn, while also helping to limit weed growth.

Lastly, remember to be patient. You may find that scarifying your lawn leaves your garden looking worse than when you started. Don’t panic and have faith – if you’ve timed it right and followed these top tips, your garden will grow back looking healthy and better than ever.

Want to get the most out of your garden? Request a free lawn survey from Lawn & Weed Expert!

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