Autumn is the time to scarify your lawn

By | 05/09/2014
Scarification Before and After

Weather conditions recently have been very difficult for lawns. Drought and floods have weakened grass and caused ‘Red Thread‘ in many lawns. The effect of this has been to reduce the quality of the lawn’s surface and in many cases created the opportunity for moss to develop!

But do not worry, Autumn is the best time of the year to remedy the situation and revive your lawn for next year. Your grass is now entering its second annual growth period and therefore September and October are the perfect months for my three-step repair programme of Scarification, Over-seeding and Top Dressing.

Scarification – The mechanical removal of dead grass, leaves and moss which will gradually suffocate your lawn.


Scarification is an aggressive process that can only be successfully achieved with a professional, powerful machine. Many garden lawn rakes are not powerful enough to properly remove the stubborn thatch layer. You will end up just tearing the grass, damaging the lawn. The aim of scarification is to remove the decaying organic matter that builds up on the surface of your lawn. This encourages moss and helps to promote the healthy growth of the grass plant.

Scarification is an essential operation for maintaining a healthy lawn. It can be combined with other operations such as top dressing and over-seeding. Scarification must be done at a time when the grass still has the potential to grow and recover. If you scarify when the growth rate is slow, i.e. in winter, then the grass cannot recover. The lawn will stay thin for a long period and moss and weeds will thrive in the bare spaces. Scarification should not be confused with domestic lawn raking. Many garden centres and D.I.Y. shops sell lawn rakes under the name of scarifiers, but they are two different machines and do different jobs.

Overseeding – The process of injecting new grass seed into your lawn, to freshen and thicken it.

The process of over seeding is the application of new seed to your lawn. It benefits your lawn by thickening the surface, improves resistance to drought and improves shade tolerance. These all go to prevent of moss infestation and lawn thinning.

I has a range of seeds to meet the needs of your lawn, all our grass seed is mixed using cultivars recommended by the Sports Turf Research Institute the UK’s leading turf research organisation.

If you would like to discuss the correct seed to use in your lawn please get in touch.

Top Dressing – Spreading a fine sand and loam mixture over the surface of your lawn, to help plant grass seed, improve the soil structure and smooth out any small lumps and bumps in the lawn.

Top dressing encourages the new plant growth and serves to protect the lawn from general wear and tear. It will improve drainage and also discourage the re-occurrence of thatch and moss.

Scarify your lawn in the autumn

If this treatment programme is followed carefully over the Autumn period, your lawn will become stronger and healthier. It will have a resistance to drought and will be able to survive the extreme weather over the winter period.

To maintain a lush, green lawn, I strongly recommend scarifying your lawn professionally. This prevents any excessive build up of thatch, keeping your lawn vigorous and healthy.

For further tips on autumn lawn care, check out my 7 best tips here.

If you would like further information or you would like me to review your lawns condition, then please get in touch and I will be happy to advise.

Kris Lord

A beautiful, green grass in the autumn
A beautiful, green grass in Devon. Taken in the autumn of 2020.

2 thoughts on “Autumn is the time to scarify your lawn

  1. Lorraine

    We laid new turfs April 2021 which took well and we have had a beautiful grass since then.. however..right now the grass looks quite patchy with dirt showing through in some places so we would like to ask you if we should scarify the lawn with a electric. Machine at this time of year (April)

    Before we laid the turf we treated the ground with the relevant mixes to areorate it
    If we scarify now will it ruin our grass which we have worked hard to achieve

    Thank you
    Lorraine xx

    1. Kris Lord Post author

      Hi Lorraine
      If a relatively new turf lawn is becoming patchy, scarifying will only make it worse. Scarifying removes thatch from the lawn. It is not a process that magically repairs bare areas.
      Find out why these areas have thinned and address that, then you can fix it up by repairing the lawn.
      For more reading on what scarifying actually does and when you should consider it, have a look at:
      Thanks for your question.


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