How to Scarify Your Lawn

Posted October 14, 2021

Scarifying your lawn doesn’t have to be scary. We’ve put together this quick guide to get you acquainted with the basics.

Anyone with a lawn is well-acquainted with the need for regular mowing, but unless you’re a professional landscaper or gardener, you might not be familiar with the process of scarifying. And yet, scarifying is a fairly straightforward process that requires a few pieces of basic gardening equipment – a lawn mower and lawn edger nz – as well as one specialised piece of equipment, the scarifier itself. In this blog, we take you through the scarifying process. Using these techniques, you’ll be able to keep your lawn in pristine condition for years to come.


What is Scarifying?

Scarifying is the process of removing excess thatch from your lawn. Every time a blade of grass or other piece of organic matter dies or is cut by your lawnmower, it goes back into the ground and becomes part of the spongy root material that forms between the soil and the blades of grass you see on the top level. This layer of root is what we call thatch. Over time, the thatch builds up, forming a dense, tough layer. Scarifying uses a specialised machine to thin out (but does not completely remove) lawn thatch. The scarifier closely resembles a lawnmower, but its mechanism is designed to pull apart the interwoven roots of thatch, in much the same way a hair comb teases out knots from your hair. 


Why Should I Scarify My Lawn?

Some thatch – around a quarter of an inch – is important for a healthy lawn. It stops the soil from losing too much moisture through evaporation and creates a natural barrier that protects the crowns of grass from disease. However, when thatch becomes too thick, it starts to cause problems. Rather than rooting deeply into the soil, your grass will root into the thatch. Overly thick thatch absorbs surface water and dries out in hot weather, meaning your grass will suffer from drought.


Thick thatch also forms an ideal breeding ground for moss, lichen, and fungus to take root. This is why scarifying every two years is so important.


What Time of Year Is Best for Scarifying?

Scarification can be done in Spring or Autumn. If you’re working in Spring, sometime in September is best, when the temperature begins to rise and the rate of growth and recovery increases. For autumn, late March or April is best, at a time when the rains have started but before frost arrives.


How to Prepare for Scarification

About two weeks before you plan to scarify your lawn, you should begin mowing it regularly to gradually bring the height down. You want the grass to be short and dry when you begin scarification, but you don’t want to damage it by cutting off too much too quickly. This staggered approach will work best. You also want to make sure that the soil has a healthy level of moisture before you begin; scarification is a fairly intensive process, and if not done carefully, you can end up damaging your lawn. Having soil that is too moist or too dry will make it more difficult for the grass to recover. Once this is done, you are ready to bring in the scarifier.


Post-Scarification Lawn Care

Your lawn will not look its best right after scarification, but don’t be alarmed; in 4-6 weeks time, it should be back better than before, provided you perform some basic lawn care. Check and adjust the moisture levels and sow grass seed; depending on the state of the lawn, you may only need to sow in especially patchy areas, or you may need to re-sow the whole lawn.


Contact Metrogreen Today

At Metrogreen, we have all the tools, materials, and knowledge NZ gardeners and landscapers have been relying on for over 25 years. To speak to one of our team members, contact us by phone or email today.