Best Lawn Scarifier
At some point, your lawn will likely benefit from scarifying. The process can keep your lawn looking great and allow your soil to “breathe,” which makes for a healthier lawn that will increase curb appeal.
If you notice that your lawn feels spongy or springy when you walk on it, or you see patches of yellow or brown, these could be signs that the lawn isn’t properly drained. Another indication of this is small puddles around the lawn. These factors could also mean there’s too much thatch in your lawn.
Keep in mind that all lawns are prone to these conditions, which is why scarifying or raking at the right time is essential. Using a scarifier properly can improve the health of your lawn.
In this guide we will be explaining everything you need to know about scarifying your garden as well as giving you our top recommendations for the best lawn scarifier, but first!
What Is Thatch?
Thatch is the organic material that has developed in the grassy plants of your lawn. Of course, your entire lawn consists of several types of plants.
The development of thatch means that your lawn is growing normally. Grass contains something called “lignin” which indicates that plants will fall and diet as a natural part of their growth cycle. However, the plants don’t rot. Instead, they remain in the lawn and increase as younger plants grow.
Your lawn should have plenty of sunlight, air and water to ensure that your plants and grass are growing at a healthy rate. When there’s too much thatch on the lawn, the new grown in your lawn can be stunted and create a barrier for air, water and sun to get to the new plants on your property.
When thatch is about half a centimetre to 1 centimetre thick, it can cause a problem for the new grass attempting to grow in your lawn.
If you think you have too much thatch in your lawn, take a closer look to see lots of dead blades of grass that have a yellow tinge to them.
Other Problems To Look Out For
Unfortunately, thatch isn’t the only problem you could face when you’re caring for your lawn. Dead weeds, as well as moss and other organic materials can compromise the quality of the soil. If your soil is compacted, this will also stop your lawn from growing and prevent the grass from thriving to its full potential. These are additional reasons scarifying is beneficial for your lawn.
Can You Use An Aerator Instead of a Scarifier?
Aerators can be useful when it comes to caring for your garden. However, an aerator would get rid of as many organic materials as a lawn scarifier would. Aerators penetrate the soil with holes that allow water and air in, which will stop the harmful effects of thatch. However, a scarifier can create the holes will also removing extra material from the grass and soil to encourage healthy grass growth.
What Does It Mean to Scarify My Lawn?
Scarifying is very similar to deep raking. When you run a rake across your grass, you’ll remove some of the organic detritus that is trapping water on your lawn or stopping your grass from growing. However, scarifying will remove more than basic raking.
When you scarify the lawn, you’re penetrating the soil with sharp blades that cut deep into the turf to life organic material. This process leaves holes in the soil that will allow air and water to travel to your lawn.
What Is the Best Way to Scarify?
While you can do some minor scarifying with a sprung lawn rake, you won’t remove much thatch. It’s best to get a mechanical scarifier that is high-quality and efficient.
The scarifier works by using steel blades that are moulded into a roller. The roller is moulded into a wheeled machine which allows you to move the scarifier forward and penetrate the soil evenly. The blades on the machine revolve clockwise and forward so you can aerate the soil without picking up organic material.
You can normally adjust the height for the scarifier so you can control how deep you want the machine to infiltrate the soil. It’s also best to choose a scarifier with wide-tread wheels to ensure that you don’t damage your lawn while you’re removing thatch and debris from the surface of your grass.
What Are My Options When It Comes to Scarifiers?
There are several scarifiers in the market, so whether you’ve looking for a petrol version or an electric device, you’ll likely have several options to choose from. There are also a few battery-powered scarifiers. While these aren’t as efficient, you can also select a manual or hand-propelled to make the scarifier process a little easier for you.
However, a manual scarifier is probably best served for a small yard or section of your lawn that needs special attention. There are combination scarifiers on the market as well. These items are a mixture of an aerator and scarifier. During certain parts of the year, you’ll only need to aerate; a few months later, you may need to scarify the lawn.
Are the Results Evident Right Away?
The truth is, you’re probably not going to see results immediately. You may even wonder why you decided to scarify your lawn once the process is complete. However, this is completely normal. When you scarify the lawn, you’ll notice that your lawn looks ragged and unkept.
However, the intensity of the damage will depend on how much moss or thatch you had to remove. If you’re scarifying your lawn for the first time, don’t be alarmed when you see that your yard looks dishevelled. The process is freeing the soil facilitate growth and decreasing the chances that thatch and moss will clog the soil again.
Preparing For Scarifying
Before you start scarifying, you should cut the grass. The grass has to be short to make it easier for you to remove moss and get to the soil. You can cut the lawn a week or two before you plan to scarify.
If there are weeds in the yard and they are large enough for you to grab yourself, get rid of them before you use the scarifier. Survey your lawn and ensure there are no safety hazards or hinderances like large rocks in the grass. Just as these obstructions could damage your lawn mower and cause injury, the same is true when you’re using a scarifier.
Test your grass to see how damp it is before you begin. If the lawn is dewy, wait until another day. Or you can check the lawn again later in the day. As the day gets warmer, the dew on grass is dried by the sun.
When Is the Best Time to Scarify?
The ideal time to scarify depends on a few factors. If you’re going to lightly scarify, it’s usually best to do this late in the spring until the early part of summer (from April until June). Or you could scarify your yard lightly near the end of summer and into the early part of autumn, which is around the end of August until the beginning or middle of September.
Heavy scarifying is an option during the autumn season as well, but you can complete the task later in the season depending on the weather in your area. When the weather is colder, you’re less likely to have a problem with weeds.
The soil will also be colder and especially solid, so you won’t have to worry about weeds seeding and taking up space in your lawn. However, you may want to do your intense scarifying earlier in the year if your lawn or garden has lots of shade from bushes or trees.
The grass is naturally thinner during autumn and scarifying may make the grass too fragile.
Is It Safe to Scarify During Winter?
Usually it’s not safe to scarify your lawn in the winter. There will likely be too much moisture on the ground from snow and frost. The best time to scarify the lawn is when the ground is somewhat moist but not overly wet.
If you try to scarify the lawn when the soil is too wet, this will cause a huge mess and could possibly damage your grass. The same is true for trying to dig into a yard that is frozen solid or nearly solid; scarifying in these weather conditions could be dangerous for you and could possibly ruin the lawn.
Unless you live in an area that gets warm weather all year round, you should avoid scarifying during the months of January and February.
Best Lawn Scarifier Reviews
Now that you know a bit more about lawn scarifiers, you’ll likely feel more confident searching for the scarifier that will work best for your garden. Here are a few selections you may want to consider.
Bosch ALR Electric Lawn Raker
This lawn scarifier is a rotary model that has a 32 cm cutting diameter. The device also features Z-fold handles so you can store it easily and 10 double-wound metal lines to make effective openings in the soil.
- You’ll receive a two-year warranty from the manufacturer with your purchase
- The collection box is 50 litres to adequately hold moss and debris
- It may take some extra manpower to push the scarifier through the soil since the device is low-power
- The scarifier is lightweight and only best for smaller lawns or yards
VonHaus 2 in 1 Lawn Scarifier
This VonHaus device is marketed as an electric lawn rake and comes with four settings so you can customise how deep the scarifier aerates the soil. The scarifier is also efficient and lightweight, which makes for easy storage. If you have moss, thatch or leaves in your yard often the 2 in 1 lawn scarifier from VonHaus could be a worthwhile purchase.
- The scarifier is designed to be lightweight and easy to use
- The machine has both aeration and scarifying rollers for dual-action lawn care
- The device comes with a two-year manufacturer warranty
- The lightweight nature of the machine may not hold up against large lawns or areas with tough soil
- Collection box doesn’t hold much moss and lawn debris
- The appliance is noisy
- Since the scarifier is so light, it often falls over when positioned upright
BLACK+DECKER 600W 30cm Lawn Raker
This scarifier has a large based attached to catch all debris and moss while you work. The motor is 600W and the machine features three raking heights so you can keep your yard neat all throughout the year. You can also adjust the height of the device easily to make it easier to use.
- Features and basket make it easy to sweep loose leaves and scarify the lawn
- 30 cm width ideal for scarifying small and medium gardens
- Appliance is completely electric
- Collection bag fills quickly
- Dial/controls can be difficult to move and manipulate
- Device isn’t very powerful and has a short cable cord
Flymo Lawnrake Compact 3400 Electric Lawnrake
This compact lawn scarifier has a collection bucket that is 34 litres. The motor is 750 watts, which is ideal for larger lawns and for yards that have lots of moss and thatch. There are 6 rake heights, so you can adjust the machine to make scarifying easier and faster.
- Device is lightweight and easy to transport and carry
- Works well on dry grass and makes for fast scarifying
- Machine is easy to assemble
- Machine may only catch thatch and not sticks or debris
- Device may not be very powerful for thick grass or lawns with heavy soil
- Scarifier may stop working after a year or two
BMC 2in1 Electric Lawn Scarifier Aerator
This scarifier is designed to easily lift moss and debris from the lawn to make your grass grow easier. The machine is also an aerator and is designed to create deep holes in the soil to allow air and water to revitalise the soil and restore your grass.
- The scarifier has a single adjustment from high to low to make it easy to scarify the lawn quickly
- Scarifier is compact and easy to fold after use in a garden shed or garage
- Device comes with a 1500W motor, which his ideal for hearty grasses and thick soil
- Device may malfunction due to a lack of cool air in the filter
- Collection compartment is fairly small and must be emptied often
Now that you have a more detailed idea of some of the scarifiers that are available to you, you can purchase the one that will work well with the rest of your garden tools to keep your yard looking great. Here are some additional tips that will help you use your scarifier efficiently.
What To Do With Detritus
In most cases, the scarifier you choose will have a collection bag or box the same way a lawn mower would. However, scarifiers usually extract more matter from your lawn that the collection bag can take in at one time. You may be surprised that a small scarifier can easily take up so much moss and debris in just a few minutes.
If you find that there is too much thatch or moss in your collection bag and you don’t want to keep stopping to empty the bag, just remove the basket or bag and allow the moss or debris to fall onto the lawn. After you’ve scarified the entire area, rake up the debris and add it to your compost heat. Remember not to leave it on the lawn, since it can collect water and deprive your grass of nutrients.
If you use a manual rake, make sure you wear leather gloves. Put a little talcum powder in the gloves as well to keep your hands from blistering. Use medium pressure and lift the rake repeatedly to ensure you’re getting as much thatch or moss out of the lawn as possible.
If this too labour-intensive or time-consuming, you may want to think about purchasing a scarifier that has wheels. This will make raking easier and quicker. If you’re using an electric rake, use up and down strokes to loosen the moss and debris in the yard to get all harmful substances away from your soil without damaging the grass or your machine.
If you want to use a petrol powered scarifier, remember that you’re working with a powerful device. Don’t allow the machine to go as deep in the soil as it could. Run the scarifier a little deeper each time to remove moss without tearing the soil to severely.
Don’t forget to adjust the height on your scarifier before turning it on. Be sure to complete this phase on a hard, flat surface to ensure that the wires and blades are touching the ground. Test the machine out on your yard for a few feet and make small adjustments as needed so you can complete the yard comfortably and efficiently.
When you’re ready to take up all the thatch and moss from the yard, start with a hay rake that is about 2 or 3 feet wide, or you can use your lawnmower. The mower will provide an additional cut that allows the debris to pack into one spot, which makes it easier to remove.
Keep in mind that if moss and weeds grow on your lawn often, it’s best to collect it often so your lawn is clear and healthy and the grass is growing at a normal rate.
When you scarify for the second or third time, alternate directions. Don’t scarify the lawn at right angles, since this can damage the grass and soil. When you switch directions, you’ll remove more thatch each time and finish the job quicker.
You know you’re making progress when you see less debris in the yard and don’t have to run the scarifier on the highest setting every time you remove moss or thatch from your yard.
You’ll need to decide at some point how much debris you want to remove. If the moss or thatch in your lawn isn’t severe or you’re just trying to keep your yard neat during the spring, going up the lawn and back down again, then scarifying on a diagonal motion should do the trick.
If there is an abundance of moss or thatch, you may have to use the scarifier for four or five runs. Even if your yard looks messy and ravaged at first, your grass will come back healthier than before with regularly scarifying.
Caring For Your Lawn
If you notice there are lumps or pumps in your yard, you could cause damage to your lawn if you run over these areas with the scarifier. If you’ve accidently damaged the lawn, follow these tips to restore the grass and soil.
When you see or feel shallow dips or bumps, you may be able to use a light dressing after scarifying the grass to even the lawn. You can also help with unevenness by overseeding the yard.
There are also times that the thatch is so intense that some of your grass may be rooted in the thatch. If this is the case for your yard, the clumps of grass and soil that are connected to the thatch will separate from the ground and you’ll eventually be stuck with clumps of grass-less thatch.
If the thatch has taken over your lawn, it may be best to talk to a landscaping professional about growing new grain. If the thatch infestation is not a matter of soil disease or compaction, you can come up with a scarifying schedule that will slowly revitalise your lawn naturally.
Be sure to keep monitoring your lawn to see how your grass and soil reactions to scarifying. A day or two after you’ve raked and aerated the lawn, check your soil to see how dry or moist it is. Inspect your grass to ensure it’s the right colour and isn’t dry or fragile. In addition to scarifying the lawn, water and fertilise the yard to keep your soil in great condition and encourage your grass to flourish.