How often should you scarify your lawn?

By | 18/01/2018
Kris Lord scarifying a lawn

I am often asked by customers how often should you scarify a lawn? The answer is a lot less than you may expect.

How often should you scarify depends on the amount of thatch. This lawn has a lot of thatch.
Thick thatch on a lawn. This badly needs scarifying.

Scarification is the mechanical process of removing thatch from your lawn. Thatch is the layer of grass leaves and organic matter which can build up in the lawn above the soil surface. How many times you need to remove this layer depends on how quickly it builds up. The speed of thatch creation, and the need to remove it, varies from lawn to lawn.

If your lawn has been neglected for years, or has a lot of moss, then a heavy scarification is usually essential. Scarifying and overseeding is a quick and cost effective way to bring an old lawn back to life. Especially when carried out by a professional.

On very rare occasions, the lawn may need scarifying again after a few weeks. This is to clean up and revive any remaining areas which may struggle to recover. This is very rare though and is usually only on lawns with very extreme thatch levels.

How often should you scarify depends on your grass

If you follow a maintenance regime, how often should you scarify can depend on the species of grass in your lawn. Fescue and some other fine grass species can produce enormous amounts of thatch. Lawns containing these grasses may need scarifying more often. This is to keep them looking fresh and the growth healthy.

By design, many species of grass used in turf production produce a lot of thatch. A thatchy sward is a favourable feature in turf production. It hold the grass together better for lifting and transporting. This trait can become a problem once the turf has become established as a lawn. High thatch production is not desirable in a home lawn. Fungal diseases can become a problem and it may need scarification at least every year.

A close up of a lawn after scarification
A close up of a lawn after scarification. There is no thatch layer left and the soil can be seen.

Most UK domestic lawns contain grass species which do not produce a lot of thatch. Modern rye grass lawns don’t tend to produce a lot of thatch. If you have one of these lawns, scarifying once every two years is plenty. A light scarification in the spring and again in the autumn.

Some customers lawns which I maintain have not been scarified in over seven years of lawn maintenance. They don’t need it. A balanced feeding programme and regular aeration keeps their microbial activity in balance. The lawn organically decomposes any thatch created. This is the ideal scenario in lawn maintenance.

So, how often should you scarify your lawn? When it needs it. No more, no less.

Have a look at my previous post on lawn scarification to assess if your lawn does need scarifying.

2 thoughts on “How often should you scarify your lawn?

  1. Mr Steve Hobbis

    My lawn is looking very sad due to the recent heatwave, I have been watering to maintain the green colour but quickly lost the battle as it soon turned dry and straw colour, I am told that it should revive after rain, over the past couple of days we have had rain I’m pleased to say.
    Could you advise me if I should now scarify to remove the thatch / straw coloured grass please, or the best way to treat etc.


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