How NOT to scarify your lawn!

By | 06/04/2012
A badly scarified lawn

One of my lawn care customers is the proud owner of a gorgeous garden. Beds filled with exotic plants and a lovely lush, green, weed free lawn that sets it all off. That was until her gardener scarified it for her a couple of weeks ago.

In trying to save a bit of money, this poor lady now has to put up with a terribly patchy lawn. The grass probably won’t recover from the butchering inflicted on it for at least a year, and may even need to be done again properly in the autumn and re-seeded to bring it back to its best.

Thatch in a lawn
Thatch left in a lawn after a bad scarification.

To say this was a rushed job is an understatement. There is obvious banding in two directions where strips have been missed. Whole chunks of lawn have been untouched, while other sections have been completely destroyed. In many places, a thick layer of thatch still smothers the lawn meaning the bare areas won’t recover at all.

Get a professional to scarify your lawn!

I really take pride in the lawns that I care for. It breaks my heart to see a lawn that I have worked on completely ruined by “gardeners” who are in it for some easy money and who take no pride in their work at all.

It is often better to not scarify your lawn at all rather than scarify it badly. The lawn can take an awful long time to recover, or may not recover at all.

So just a tip, leave scarifying of your lawn to your lawn care professional. If you don’t know what you’re doing you can do real damage!

If you need any advice on how or when to scarify your lawn, and live in the Exeter area, please get in touch and I will be happy to advise.


4 thoughts on “How NOT to scarify your lawn!

  1. John Blagg

    What length should the grass be to scarify. I have some areas that are close to 2″ others 1 ”
    Could you clarify what tool removes dead grass and what it’s called. And what tool actually breaks up the thatch. I have never removed thatch on my lawn because I mistook the tine tool to remember be a scarifier. I have prepared my lawn now for scarifying. I am going to buy a duel purpose tine and scarifier from homebase is this ok

    1. Kris Lord Post author

      There is no set length of the grass, but generally the shorter it is the better. You can then get the thatch out much more easily and see what you have left with a short lawn.
      A scarifier is used to remove the thatch (dead grass). Don’t confuse this with a lawn rake though (these have weak, metal tines) and are often mis-branded as scarifiers. A DiY shop one is probably not going to be powerful enough to do a proper job. You may be better off hiring a professional petrol-powered machine.

  2. Hamerdoon

    I live in Scotland. I have a large lawn on which the grass won’t grow very well. I had a Gardner come and scarify and reseed it – didn’t work. I did a wee experiment and put too soul on one quarter where the lawn doesn’t appear quite so matted underneath – worked reasonably well and grass grew ok. My question is this – I want to scarify all my lawn to open it up and then lay topsoil over it and seed. What should my lawn look like after scarifying? I don’t want to make a total mess of it but the matting underneath the dead grass looks bad – as if someone has laid a mat over soil. Be grateful for your advice because I’m fed up getting poor advice elsewhere!!!

    1. Kris Lord Post author

      Hi, If there is a mat of thatch on the lawn then this needs to be removed really. If you are overseeding and applying a topsoil layer then there isn’t really a limit on how much you should scarify.
      A good guide is keep going until there is soil for the seed to root into. The results will be much better then.
      If you don’t scarify it enough, you risk being in a halfway-house stage and the lawn may look a LOT worse and not recover at all. New shoots and grass can’t get through the thatch left and old grass has been ripped out.
      With a major renovation more is always better. You will get out a HUGE amount of material, so be prepared! Good luck.


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