What is a lawn scarifier and how to use it

If you’re interested in getting your garden looking great, then you may already have heard of a lawn scarifier. But what actually is it and is scarifying your lawn worth the effort.

According to the Cambridge dictionary, to scarify means “to use a scarifier to break up and remove unwanted grass or plants that are covering the surface of a lawn”. In other words, if you have a very mossy or thatch-covered lawn, scarifying is a great way to give it a refresh by breaking up the moss and letting light and air reach the grass.

reseeding the lawn after scarifying

In addition, dead grass left in the lawn can block water or fertiliser from really penetrating deep down to the roots of your grass, preventing the good strong growth you need to achieve a lush-looking lawn.

You don’t need to scarify your lawn every week – a thorough effort once or twice a year should be sufficient, but make sure you don’t do it in the height of summer. Lawns need time to recover after scarifying, so it’s best to do it in an active growth phase – either early Spring, or Autumn time work best. Just make sure that it isn’t too hot or too cold – if an early heatwave hits in April, for example, it may be best to rethink your plans and a late frost should make you think twice too. A soil temperature of around 8 degrees or above is ideal.

There are several ways to scarify, and the option you choose may well depend on how big your lawn is. The simplest way is to use a spring-tined rake, and just rake the moss or thatch out, but this can be quite an intense workout and it may take a while if you have a particularly large garden!

rl540 petrol scarifier If you want an easier life though, there are mechanical options that do the trick – The Stihl petrol RL 540 scarifier is designed with large gardens in mind as it has sturdy, fixed blades that help you to break up any moss or thatch quickly and easily.

A word of warning – your garden won’t be looking its best immediately after scarifying! But don’t panic, this won’t last, and your grass will thank you for the effort you’ve made once it has had some time to recover. You can go over the lawn with a lawnmower (make sure the setting isn’t too low) afterwards to pick up any dead grass or moss, and then you may want to reseed it, especially if the scarifying has revealed sparse patches.

You can also apply a general fertiliser to the lawn to help it recover more quickly. Make sure you don’t let the lawn dry out either – if those famous April showers don’t materialise, then you’ll need to water your lawn yourself, and then you’ll have a green and healthy lawn in no time.

For more Spring lawncare tips, why not watch the Stihl Mow-How video with the professional gardener, author and radio personality Matthew Biggs.

Credit: Stihl UK Blog

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