Scarifying Lawn: Why, When And How Often?

Scarifying the lawn removes thatch and moss and promotes good lawn growth. We show why it is worthwhile and give precise instructions.

Lawn care is like health care: Consuming fruit and vegetables regularly is far less strenuous than recovering from a protracted cold or flu. It is up to every lawn owner to decide whether he or she wants to make a little effort to maintain the lawn or rather wait until the tedious lawn repair becomes unavoidable or even impossible at some point. Therefore, we recommend scarifying the lawn before it is in worse shape.

In the following you will find detailed instructions for scarifying your lawn as well as care tips so that your lawn recovers well after the rigors of scarifying.

Why scarifying the lawn is worthwhile

Among other things, poor soil, insufficient nutrient supply or lack of care can lead to the formation of moss and thatch in the lawn. Moss and felt worsen the growing conditions of the lawn grasses. Water and air cannot penetrate the soil as well and, in the worst case, the grassroots suffer from a lack of water and oxygen. This weakens the grass and leads to even stronger moss and felt formation. In order to break this vicious circle, moss and lawn thatch are removed in the course of scarifying. This means that lawns that are not matted or mossy do not need to be scarified. Most hobby gardeners can hardly imagine this dream scenario, but in sunny locations with loose, nutrient-rich, and well-aerated soil, i.e. on ideal lawn locations, moss rarely forms.

Scarifying Lawn: Why, When & How Often?

Mossy and tangled lawns particularly benefit from scarifying

Why is it worth scarifying the lawn?

  • Moss and thatch are removed
  • This improves the growing conditions for the lawn grasses, as water and air can penetrate the soil again and the permeability is increased

How often should the lawn be scarified?

Scarifying is carried out as required and therefore by no means at regular intervals. Unnecessary scarifying weakens the grasses more than promoting them – at least if they enjoy good growing conditions even without the intervention. Scarifying should be carried out no more than once a year, even in the case of a very poor location and unfavorable soil properties. In the long term, scarifying is of course a nuisance so that if possible, efforts should be made to combat the causes of moss and felt formation. Here you can read about how to remove moss in the lawn over the long term.

When should the lawn be scarified?

The optimal season for scarifying is spring when the grass is already beginning to grow. Then you should start scarifying and then apply spring fertilization with primarily organic lawn fertilizer. With this care, your lawn is optimally prepared for the warm season and has the chance to use the wounds in its roots to branch. The increasingly longer days also give him the energy to be one step ahead of the weeds and also the shade-loving moss. If you have the choice, scarifying should therefore be carried out in spring.

Early autumn to the end of September is not that good for scarifying. But because the lawn still grows slowly even at temperatures above 8 ° C, it can still use autumn to close the wounds in the lawn. After scarifying in autumn, the autumn lawn fertilization can be carried out – it is essential to use a potassium-rich, low-nitrogen autumn lawn fertilizer in order to avoid frost damage to the lawn. We have developed our Gardender organic autumn lawn fertilizer especially for this purpose, which protects your lawn against crisp cold temperatures. You can also find more information here on how to properly winterize your lawn.

Since their leaves and roots are injured when scarifying, the lawn plants then have to fight to regulate their water balance. Warm, humid weather, i.e. vigorous weather, optimally supports the lawn in its regeneration and ensures that it does not dry out. So if it is too dry and there is no rain forecast for the next day, you should leave the scarifier standing – or use the sprinkler.

When should the lawn be scarified?

  • The perfect time to scarify is in spring when the grass is already beginning to grow
  • Scarifying in autumn is possible, but not optimal
  • So that the regeneration of the lawn is not unnecessarily difficult, scarifying should take place in warm, humid weather

Scarifying Lawn: Why, When & How Often?

Ideally, the lawn is scarified in spring

Instructions for scarifying the lawn

So that you really do something good for your lawn, the right approach to scarifying is crucial. A previous deep mowing to about 2 cm and the removal of the lawn clippings is absolutely necessary so that the grass is not pulled out when scarifying. A scarifier should slightly scratch the sward and not cut the ground. The working depth of the knives must not exceed 2 to 3 millimeters, because the sward is severely damaged when working 4 to 5 millimeters deep. When scarifying itself, the lawn should be worked on at least once lengthways and once across. Of course, you can also use a manual scarifier for this. Between the work steps and at the end, the thatch is removed with a rake, which is also much easier on a short-cut lawn.

How is the lawn properly scarified?

  • Before scarifying it is mowed (about 2 cm deep)
  • The scarifier is adjusted so that it only engages 2 to 3 mm in the soil surface; otherwise, the grassroots can be damaged
  • The lawn should be scarified at least once lengthways and once across
  • In between and finally, the worked-out material is removed with a rake

Scarifying Lawn: Why, When & How Often?

The lawn should be cleaned during and after scarifying

Maintain lawn after scarifying

If the device is correctly adjusted, scarifying only damages the grassroots as much as is necessary. Nevertheless, it presents the lawn with special, energy-sapping tasks. In order to promote the regeneration of the lawn, scarifying is followed by a few other maintenance measures.

Ventilate the lawn after scarifying

Like scarifying, aerating (aerating) the lawn is also used to improve the air and water permeability of the soil. But while scarifying only removes the layer of felt on the surface of the ground and gently scratches the sward to make it branch, the tools penetrate 10 cm or deeper when aerating the lawn to literally “aerate” the ground.

When aerating the lawn, the sward is punctured deeply at certain points, and water, nutrients, and oxygen reach the lawn roots better, which promotes their branching. The airing of the lawn serves to remove soil compaction close to the surface and can be carried out 2 to 12 times a year as required since the entirety of the sward remains unharmed. After aeration, the resulting holes are filled by sanding.

Scarifying Lawn: Why, When & How Often?

With lawn ventilation shoes, the lawn can be aerated with little effort

Tip: Airing the lawn can also be carried out independently of scarifying and also much more frequently.

Sand the lawn after scarifying

On heavy, cohesive soils, sand the soil after scarifying. By introducing sand, the proportion of air-conducting coarse pores in the soil is increased and the soil structure is permanently improved in accordance with the requirements of the lawn. Soil organisms are also much better off with a better oxygen supply. The sanding of the lawn prevents the re-emergence of moss and thatch by promoting lawn plants and soil organisms.

Re-sow and fertilize the lawn after scarifying

It is normal for the lawn to look a little plucked after it has been scarified. An evenly thinned lawn area will soon be covered with new green with good care. However, if there are larger bald spots, which are particularly often found in damp, shady and compacted areas in the garden, they are sown again after scarifying. This is important so that a closed sward is created again and renewed moss and weed infestation is prevented.

The Gardender lawn reseeding or the Gardender lawn repair are ideal for treating the bald spots in your lawn. Because the lawn did not have it particularly difficult in these areas for nothing, you should prepare the seedbed well, loosen a compacted soil well, mix it with sand and mainly incorporate organic fertilizer. Here you can read again how to sow the lawn successfully.

Scarifying Lawn: Why, When & How Often?

Any bald spots can be re-sown after scarifying

Fertilize the lawn after scarifying

After scarifying, the lawn can be fertilized. The soil is now exposed and the fertilizer can easily be incorporated. A good supply of nutrients gives the heavily draining lawn plants the decisive advantage over unwanted weeds. However, especially if you have reseeded at the same time, you should avoid excessively high nutrient concentrations: If the soil solution contains too many nutrients, this leads to soft, susceptible, and poorly rooted young lawn plants.

You can’t go wrong with primarily organic lawn fertilizer. The slow release of these lawn fertilizers not only leads to healthier emergence of the plants, but also promotes soil life through the introduction of organic material and a continuous release of nutrients.

We have developed our Gardender organic lawn fertilizer and our Gardender organic autumn lawn fertilizer as biological and long-term lawn care. They ensure active soil life, which converts thatch into nutrients and humus. The constant supply of nutrients prevents unchecked moss growth. The mainly organic fertilization after scarifying ensures, in the medium and long term, a dense lawn without wild herbs that have to be scarified less often.

How is the lawn properly cared for after scarifying?

  • Very heavy soils are also ventilated for scarifying; Ventilation can also be carried out every month independently of scarifying, if necessary
  • Sanding is compulsory after airing and has a beneficial effect on lawn growth even after scarifying
  • Bald spots that have arisen during scarifying should be improved and re-sown
  • After scarifying, mainly organic fertilizers should be used to prevent the formation of moss and felt in the long term; we recommend our Gardender organic lawn fertilizer in spring and our Gardender organic autumn lawn fertilizer in autumn – for a frost-hard lawn

You can find out more about correct lawn care all year round here.

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