Any lawn is bound to benefit from lawn scarification. This is a process that makes the lawn breathe better and at the same time leave the lawn looking greener and healthier.
Telltale signs it's time to scarify your lawn include:
- Springy and spongy feeling
- Yellow patches on the lawn
- Failure of the lawn to drain water
The main reason why you should undertake scarification is to get rid of thatch
What is thatch?
Thatch is the organic material that builds up among grass plants of your lawn. Grass contains lignin which doesn't die even after you have cut the grass and dried it up.
Lignin stays inside the lawn and if you don't remove it, it builds up as new grass grows.
As the new grass grows, thatch begins to choke it, preventing air, water, and sunshine from getting through. As you might guess, this leads to the grass being malnourished.
When the thatch reaches a thickness of more than half a centimeter, it becomes a serious hazard, preventing the grass from growing at all.
Thatch is often the main problem with growing grass, but there are other dangers. They include: dead weeds, moss, and organic matter.
Soil compaction has also been shown to prevent the lawn from growing and thriving. When you undertake scarification, you fix this problem too.
Why an aerator won’t fix the problem
Since you are looking to increase the amount of air and water that reaches the grass, some people have the notion that they only need to use an aerator.
While the tool is highly effective in its working, it doesn’t get rid of all the organic matter that impedes the proper flow of water and nutrients.
Aerators concentrate on creating holes that let water and air in, stopping the effects of compaction and the effects brought about by thatch.
Scarification, on the other hand, carries out both of these tasks and at the same time removes most of the organic material hence stopping thatch from blocking growth.
To someone who has never undertaken scarification, we can say that scarification is synonymous to deep raking.
When you drive a large rake across your lawn, you are able to remove a lot of organic matter as possible.
In addition to getting rid of the organic matter, the process also leaves holes in the ground that enables more air and water into the grass and soil.
When should you scarify your lawn?
For ideal results, you should scarify your lawn twice a year.
Do it the first time at the beginning of the mowing season, around March and the second time at the end of September before the cold winter starts.
You should avoid scarifying in the summer or winter months.
When you do this, you ensure that you have a thin layer of thatch the entire year round.
Do you have shady areas in your garden? You should consider scarifying once a year. The best time to do it is in the spring. This is to allow optimal re-growth.
Preparing your lawn for scarification
It’s important that you plan ahead. For easy scarification, you need short dry grass.
This calls for you to bring down the grass height gradually over a week or two before you undertake the scarification.
When you do this, you don’t shock the grass and at the same time, you allow the air to go deeper into the turf which aids in drying the grass.
When you get rid of long grass that creates resistance making the scarification process long and tedious.
If there are weeds on your lawn, you should manually remove them. Don’t use a weed killer.
This is because scarifying within a few weeks of applying a weed killer you will be disrupting the weed killing process. Doing so has also been shown to lead to seed germination.
In addition to reducing the height of the lawn, you also should ensure that the soil has enough moisture so that the lawn recovers as quickly as possible.
If there is too much water or the soil is too dry, you should wait for the situation to improve.
What tools do you need to scarify?
For you to undertake proper scarification, you need to use a number of tools. They include:
Moss killer: Is there moss on your yard? You should try to get rid of it using a moss killer.
The best way of going about it is by applying the killer a week or so before you plan to scarify. This makes the moss easier to collect.
It also prevents it from sporing further as you scarify.
Lawn rake: A handheld rake might appear too simple, but it's highly effective at collecting thatch.
When using it, you should note that you will need to use more effort and energy than when using a powered machine.
When using the rake, always use a pair of good quality work gloves that will prevent your hands from blistering.
The gloves will also protect your hands from getting cut by sharp objects that might be on your lawn.
Electric lawn rake: If you have the budget, you should consider investing in an electric garden rake.
Since the rake is powered, you don’t need to work as hard as when using a handheld device.
Electric lawn rakes easily collect the thatch and moss leaving your lawn looking great and healthy.
There are plenty of inexpensive electric lawn rakes in the market that you can go for. If you have the budget, you should go for known brands.
While they will be a little bit expensive, they will last for a long time and do their work better.
How a scarifier works
The machine has steel blades that are set into a roller in a wheeled machine. This ensures that penetration occurs at regular intervals as you propel the scarifier forward.
Scarifier blades revolve forwards and clockwise that the organic material is left behind.
When you are using the machine, remember to adjust the height so that you can regulate how deep you want the scarifier to go.
When you are buying the machine, you should go for versions with wide-tread wheels as they ensure that there is no damage to the turf as you are working.
How to scarify a lawn
For you to get rid of all the debris on your yard, you should start with getting rid of debris from your lawn.
A few weeks before you use the lawn scarifier, inspect the lawn for any live moss or debris that might be there.
You should get rid of the moss before you do anything. The cool thing is that there are plenty of moss killers in the market that you can choose from.
You only need to spread it over your lawn while following the instructions given by the manufacturer.
Once you are sure that the moss has died (it should turn black or brown and dry), you should mow the lawn on a dry day, with a mower on a low setting.
Mowing the lawn ensures that you have enough grass that you can collect simultaneously at the end of the job.
When it comes to using the lawn scarifier, you should start it on a high setting then go over the lawn a few times repeating the process at angles.
When you are making the passes, remember to reduce the severity of the settings on each pass.
Is your yard looking tired? You should consider adding grass seed at the end of the scarification process.
For ideal results, cover the seed with a mixture of fine compost and sharp sand. This is to protect the seeds as they are germinating.
Once you have completed overseeding the lawn, keep the soil moist with regular light applications of water.
Keep the traffic over the lawn to a minimum after you have overseeded the lawn. This is to give the seeds a chance to grow.
To prevent birds from stealing the seeds, consider covering the lawn areas with a mesh.
You should give the lawn a few weeks to recover and the seeds to establish before you can mow the lawn.
When you are mowing the lawn, remember to raise the height of the mower blades so that you don’t damage the seeds.
What should you do after scarifying?
Once you are done with scarifying your lawn, you should aerate the lawn using an aerator.
This machine uses a similar process as the scarifying machine but the aerator tines punch tiny holes into the lawn hence improving drainage and encouraging the healthy growth of grass.
Since moss thrives in moist areas, aerating the lawn aids in preventing future moss growth. It does this by improving drainage.
Aerating the lawn also allows water, nutrients, and air into the soil, which aids in feeling the grassroots and at the same time aids in improving grass growth.
You also should encourage the growth of grass by adding good quality fertilizer to the lawn.
For ideal results, use granular spring/summer fertilizer. This is because the fertilizer contains high levels of nitrogen and other nutrients such as phosphate.
If you have a small yard, you can easily spread the fertilizer using your hands, but if the area is large, you don’t have any way out other than to use a fertilizer spreader.
The machine not only makes the work easy, it also ensures even distribution of fertilizer.