Scarification is a process perhaps best described as a thorough mechanical raking of the lawn.

The machine we use has a series of sharp tungsten blades that rotate at high speed and cut vertically into the turf. The depth can be adjusted to remove as much or as little thatch as required. This machine and process should not be confused with the typical machine available on the domestic market, which is more of a lawn rake, has much less power and has limited depth penetration.

What is the objective of scarification?

The main objective of scarification is to reduce the level of thatch in a lawn by  allowing air and water to flow freely between the surface of the lawn down to the soil level. To break down naturally, thatch requires a good amount of air- and water-flow. This increase in airflow will also create unfavourable conditions for moss and fungal diseases to grow, whilst improving the overall health of the grass plant.

When and why does my lawn need scarifying?

A lawn that has developed thatch and moss needs to be scarified to remove as much of this material as possible allowing the grass space to grow, and to increase the movement of air around the surface of the lawn. Scarifying should be carried out at a time when the grass is growing slowly to allow it to recover from this rigorous process, usually autumn through to spring time.

Scarifying is also used throughout the year to help thicken up sparse lawns by splitting the stolons of the grass plant and/or to prepare the ground for overseeding and lawn renovation.

How often does my lawn need scarifying?

All lawns are different in their characteristics and it is therefore very difficult to predict how often to scarify a lawn. Professional Greenkeepers scarify at least once a year, and depending on the quality of lawn you would like, we would recommend including Scarification in your annual lawn care schedule.

There are a number of factors that will affect the frequency required. If a lawn contains large amounts of thatch and / or moss it may need a number of treatments to reduce the level to be manageable. Different grass types tend to produce more thatch than others and therefore need scarifying more frequently.

What will my lawn look like following scarification?

The condition of your lawn following scarification will differ depending on several factors. The depth of the thatch layer and the time of year it is carried out will have the biggest impact. Most lawns will look a little worse-for-wear following scarification.

Scarification carried out in Autumn or Winter: Lawns that are scarified at this time of year will take some time to recover as the grass plant does not grow in low temperatures. You should not expect to see any rejuvenation of your lawn until the following Spring. The good news is that you don’t need to do anything during this period as the soil is generally wet enough to ensure the roots and the grass plants remain healthy.

Scarification carried out in Spring or Summer: Lawns that are scarified in Spring or Summer will require a little further help to rejuvenate. Generally, we would only carry out such work if we feel the lawn has little chance of improving without it. To help your lawn rejuvenate, the soil must remain wet at all times by watering it, and the lawn must be mown regularly to ensure the grass plants remain healthy. The more frequently you mow your lawn whilst ensuring the soil remains wet, the quicker your lawn will rejuvenate.

What will happen to the thatch once my lawn is scarified?

 Scarification can produce a lot of waste in the form of thatch, grass clippings and other organic material. Prior to scarification, we can discuss the potential amount of waste that may be produced, and the options available to you. Generally, on smaller lawns, we will place the waste in to a council recycling bag or in to bin bags for you to dispose of. For larger lawns, or lawns with a considerably more than average amount of thatch, we can discuss other options, such as using a skip or other waste disposal service

Will scarification remove all of the moss in my lawn?

No. Although scarification does remove a large proportion of moss from the lawn, it’s main purpose is to reduce the home of moss, thatch. Attempting to remove every last bit of moss will only cause long term damage to the grass plants.

Any moss that is left following scarification will be controlled following a moss control treatment. Following an application of moss control, the moss will turn black and will break down naturally in to the soil. Please do not attempt to remove any more moss following scarification, especially if we have applied an overseed or carried out patch repair or renovation.

Why don't I just control the moss in my lawn using a moss control treatment each year?

You can. Our moss control treatments are very effective at killing the moss that is alive in your lawn at the time of treatment. However, this year’s moss is next years thatch. When moss is killed and scarification is not carried out, the dead moss simply forms a home for next year’s moss to flourish in. Scarification breaks this cycle, and makes our moss control treatments more effective.

Are you able to scarify my entire lawn?

This really depends on several factors. The machines we use are 19 inches wide, and the blades are on a rotating shaft that is around 16 inches wide. If there are areas of lawn (for example, narrow grass pathways) that are narrower than our machine, we are unable to scarify these areas as this will more-then-likely cause damage to the turf in these areas.

The border of lawns can also pose a problem. The wheels on our machine are around 1.5 inches wide, which means we are unable to scarify all the way up to the edge of a lawn, especially if there is a dip in to the flower bed at the edge of the lawn. Experience has shown us that due to the improved airflow over the entire lawn, moss in the edges of the lawn will soon find it hard to survive and will break down naturally.