Note: We highly recommend our MiracleMOSS™ treatment over scarification as it is less invasive whilst being more effective at treating moss and thatch, find out more here.
Scarifying is the process of mechanically removing moss and thatch from a lawn surface as this organic matter suffocates the roots of your lawn, inhibiting grass growth whilst encouraging more moss and weeds to grow.
If done correctly, your lawn will initially look in quite a bad state as scarifying is a very aggressive process, however over time the process will encourage new grass to grow and can reinvigorate lawns.
The surface of the lawn is machined by vertical rotating blades that not only rake out moss, but also dislodge thatch, and if done deep enough, it encourages tillering which is the production of new grass shoots from cut rhizomes' (vegetative reproduction).
Number of Treatments: Typically, once a year every 1 to 2 years.
Time of year: Spring and Autumn, September-November or March/April.
Treatment Type: An additional lawn care treatment.
The benefits are:
- Improved surface quality, by clearing out dead grass material and removing moss & creates good growing conditions for a healthy lawn.
- The best advantage is gained from scarifying when the lawn is reseeded afterward. This will really turn a tired lawn around.
- Breaks up the surface allowing water and nutrients to better penetrate when grass seed is reintroduced.
- A fine-bladed lawn often becomes very dense with age. Single-pass scarification thins the sward and rejuvenates the lawn, especially if it is aerated and fed at the same time.
The disadvantages' are:
- Dense layers of moss on lawns require it to be scarified in several directions.
- Poor visual appearance for some time after e.g. bare patches, dry looking grass etc.
- A large amount of debris produced that needs to be disposed of.
Due to the invasiveness of scarification, we highly recommend our MiracleMOSS™ treatment over scarification as it is more effective at treating moss and thatch, find out more here.
Why is Lawn Scarification Essential for Healthy Grass Growth?
In cultivating a lush green lawn, adequate space is crucial for the optimal development of grass plants. The primary growth occurs at the base or crown, situated at the soil line. The blades of grass emanate from this crown, and the spacing between crowns plays a pivotal role in determining the overall health of the lawn.
When the soil surface becomes overcrowded with other plants, particularly with the intrusion of moss, issues may arise. Moss can proliferate between grass crowns, impeding the passage of essential elements like oxygen, sunlight, and nutrients to the soil. This interference can adversely affect the healthy growth of grass. Additionally, the presence of a thatch layer, composed of dead organic matter like autumn leaves, has the potential to suffocate the lawn, necessitating scarification as a remedial measure.
How can you tell when a lawn needs to be scarified?
A lawn needs to be scarified if it suffers with moss during the autumn and winter time or it feels spongy underfoot.
What is the difference between lawn raking and scarification?
Lawn raking which is often carried out with a leaf rake or a small raking machine is a good way to remove moss from a lawn. However scarification uses heavy-duty flails (knives) on a motorised machine which reduces the level of thatch on the lawns surface. This in turn reduces moss as thatch is something that moss loves and thrives on. In simple terms, lawn raking removes the effect, moss but scarification removes the cause, surface thatch.
How long does a scarified lawn take to recover?
A scarified lawn can take between 4-6 weeks to recover from the scarification treatment fully. To help the lawn to recover quicker, there are a few additional treatments which you can do to help the lawn recover quicker, including:
- Top Dressing
Lawn 3 can also help you with these, so please get in touch and we would be happy to assist you.
When is the best time to scarify a lawn?
Scarifying once or twice a year depends on the condition of the turf and the desired result. The perfect time for scarifying has specific weather conditions that you must look out for – not too hot, not too cold, not too dry as scarification leaves the soil exposed and temporarily vulnerable to the growth of weeds and other unwanted seeds.
The optimal periods for scarifying a lawn typically occur in March/April and during autumn from September to November. It's crucial to recognize that grass experiences limited growth when the soil temperature falls below 10ºC, and it's more susceptible to drying out when temperatures exceed 20ºC. When monitoring temperatures, it's essential to focus on soil temperature rather than air temperature, as soil undergoes slower temperature changes than the air.
For accurate temperature assessment, use a soil thermometer, inserting it approximately 3cm into the soil surface. Avoid scarifying during the warmest part of the day, and consider conducting the process on a cloudy day with some rain. This choice can help grass to recover more quickly..
Scarification Grass in Spring
Light scarification or removing the thatch can be done in the spring as this is when the weather starts to get warmer and the growth and recovery rate of the lawn should be at its highest. Another good opportunity is August/September though it is important not to delay it beyond this as the weather might get too cold.
If you have a patch of grass which is under constant shade, perhaps with a tree growing then it is better to scarify in the spring as tree crowns will be at their thinnest from the winter whilst also getting maximum sunlight. This will ensure good growth and the best opportunity for the new grass seeds to grow.
Scarification Grass in Autumn
If the lawn requires serious thatch removal, then autumn is the best chance to reinvigorate it. Scarifying often leaves patches of soil exposed and whilst this does make an ideal seed bed for fresh grass seeds, it can also leave it open for weeds to invade. Late August and Early September can be a great time to avoid all the summer weeds and reduce the chances of any seeds other than grass ones to start growing.