The key to maintaining a healthy lawn is understanding how it grows and what can damage it. One of the most important things you should know about your lawn is how often you need to scarify it. This will help get rid of any thatch and allow for new growth. It is also important to understand why your grass might be turning brown or yellowing in certain areas. Scarifying your lawn every year or so will ensure healthy, green grass all summer long! In this article, we will talk about how to revive a lawn after scarifying.

Lawn after scarifying
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What is Lawn Scarification?

Lawn scarification is the practice of mechanically removing deep-rooted turfgrass and weeds and then fertilising and aerating the soil to promote healthy grass coverage. Mechanical removal of weeds, both shallow-rooted and deep-rooted types is a necessary step in preserving the look and health of any lawn. To accomplish this, we use one or more techniques that allow for penetration to remove these pesky weeds without having to get down on their hands and knees with a small hand trowel or hoe. Scarifying is just one method that uses a sharp blade, usually power-driven by a petrol engine mounted on wheels with a rotary disk, drum-type tiller cutter, and a rotating circular vertical blade exactly like what you see used at a farm for ploughing the soil and prepping it before seeding.

The blades are set at a shallow depth of cut to slice down to the root structure, aerating those roots as they go by. Scarifying can also be accomplished with petrol-powered lawnmowers that have sharp hinged blades on them or tilling attachments.

Lawn Scarifier
Lawn Scarifier

What Are the Benefits of Scarifying a Lawn?

Scarifying, also known as lawn dethatching, is a process that involves mechanically removing layers of thatch, moss, and other organic debris from the surface of a lawn.

This process offers several benefits:

  • Improved Soil Aeration: Scarifying breaks up compacted soil, allowing for better air circulation. This enhanced aeration promotes healthier root growth and overall lawn vitality.
  • Enhanced Water and Nutrient Absorption: By removing the layer of thatch, water and nutrients can penetrate the soil more easily, ensuring that the grass roots receive the essential elements they need to thrive.
  • Disease Prevention: A thick layer of thatch can be a breeding ground for pests and diseases. By removing this layer, you reduce the risk of fungal diseases and pest infestations.
  • Stimulates Grass Growth: The process of scarifying can invigorate your lawn, encouraging the growth of new grass shoots and leading to a denser, greener lawn.
  • Reduces Weed and Moss Growth: Scarifying can help control the growth of weeds and moss. By improving the health and density of the lawn, there’s less room for unwanted plants to take hold.

How to Revive a Lawn After Scarifying?

If you have been thinking about how to revive a lawn after scarifying, then we are here to help. The grass is one of the most important parts of landscaping and caring for it properly will be critical in maintaining its health and beauty. The following steps should give you all the tips that you need in order to have a lush green lawn again in no time.

Step 1 – Clear Debris

Right after scarifying your lawn, you will need to rake it over and collect all of the loosened debris and dry thatch. This can be done with a garden rake or by using your hands to remove any large clumps that are left behind.

All of this green garden waste can be recycled and go straight into the compost bin.

Step 2 – Mow

Once all of the debris has been cleared, we recommend that you give your lawn a good mowing with your lawnmower. We do this to remove any unsightly tufty bits but also to give us an idea of how level the ground is as scarification can occasionally leave low spots here and there and you will need to know where they are in order to repair them later.

Step 3 – Top-dress

Next up, you will want to top-dress your lawn. You may find that there are bare patches where a lot of thatch has been removed and even low spots as we mentioned earlier after removing moss etc.

Topdressing is not as difficult as it sounds, and you can just add a little topsoil here and there to make sure your lawn is nice and level.

Step 4 – Overseed

Overseeding a lawn is the process of introducing new greenery to an existing lawn. To do this you will want to broadcast your seed all over the lawn, covering any bare patches where you may have dressed and any areas where the grass is particularly thin. When buying the seed, it is a good idea to try and get a seed that is as close a match as possible to what you already have. Many people do not know that there are loads of different types of varying shades.

Step 5 – Fertilise

Again, another thing that many people are unaware of is that in order to have a healthy and lush lawn, it will also need to be fertilised periodically. There are products available specifically for grass (amazon link – opens in a new tab) so you should not have a hard time finding the right one. If you want to get something a little more multi-purpose, you will want to ensure that the fertiliser is high in nitrogen and phosphate.

Be aware that if you are using any kind of herbicide, be careful with store-bought fertiliser as the chemicals in both products may not be compatible and do more harm than good.

Step 6 – Water

Yes, this may seem obvious, but the final step is to water your lawn well. We recommend that you give your lawn a good soaking at least once, maybe even twice a day for the next 2 weeks. If your lawn is quite a sunny area, the best time of day to water your lawn is late in the evening when the sun is no longer beating down as the water could magnify the sun’s rays and scorch your nice new grass. If your lawn is not particularly sunny, you can water it daily as and when you can.

Scarifying a Lawn
Scarifying a Lawn

What is the Best Time of Year to Scarify a Lawn?

There are 2 schools of thought when it comes to scarification. Some people prefer to scarify their lawn in mid-spring and others prefer to wait until the autumn in preparation for the next growing season. I am firmly in the mid-spring camp, and I am going to tell you why. Scarification affects the top layers of soil, so in order for it to be effective, scarification needs to be done during wet weather. Sufficient drying time between rains should also be allowed. Fresh, uniform scarification will restore your lawn to better health. It is important to note that timing is crucial. You do not want to do this too early in the spring because you will remove a lot of roots and all the active growth energy for the grass would be expended further recreating new roots. Nor should you wait too long in the season before scarifying either because as they say, “The best time to heal an injury is right after it happens” and that is especially true when it comes time to repair or regrow damaged grass roots. By the middle of the spring, we are still getting the occasional rains which will keep the soil moist and workable, and any new growth will be well-rooted and growing at its strongest.

Mid-spring is the perfect time for scarification as this is also the best time of year for overseeding. This means that your young grass will have the right conditions for natural growth making your lawn lush and green in no time.

Can You Over-Scarify a Lawn?

Yes, you can over-scarify a lawn. Scarifying may help temporarily with some issues such as weeds and surface debris accumulation, but if done too often it can have the effect of prematurely wearing the lawn down. When the material is removed from the top layer of turf it leaves the roots exposed which will dry out and lead to a lack of water, causing the lawn to become dormant until rainfall replenishes moisture. If you do decide to Scarify your lawn periodically you need to wait at least 6 months before doing so again because the turf has been shown, to be much more resistant after this adaptation time period.

We recommend scarifying your lawn annually in the spring when the lawn will be growing strongly enough to recover.

Conclusion

Scarifying a lawn is an important step to take before the arrival of summer. Keep your garden looking good with these 6 steps and you will be ready for all those BBQs in no time! 1) Clear debris, 2) Mow, 3) Top-dress, 4) Overseed, 5) Fertilise 6) Water. Now that you know the six steps to revive a lawn, it is time to get started. If your garden is in need of some TLC and there are weeds popping up here and there, do not worry; with these tips on hand, you should be able to revitalise your grass within weeks.

Lawn care after scarifying Infographic

Garden Doctor Tips

“When scarifying, it is important that the soil is moist and loose, not compacted, or clumpy because it will make your machine more difficult to pull across the surface of the grass!”

“If there has been an extended period without rain, then watering every day for about 15 minutes is advised!”

“For best results and a healthier looking lawn in no time, scarify in mid-spring!”

“You will also want to fertilise at least twice per year. We recommend doing this once during early spring before new growth starts up again in addition to after the summer’s heat dies down.!”

Frequently Asked Questions

Is scarifying the same as aerating?

No. Scarifying and aerating are two different techniques. Scarifying is a more aggressive way to get rid of thatch, while aerating does so with gentler tines or blades, injecting holes into the soil to allow air circulation and moisture absorption.

Is scarifying worth it?

Yes, scarification is worth it. It promotes healthy lawn growth by allowing moisture to stay near the grass roots, leading to enhanced root development. This intentional soil surface damage ultimately results in a more resilient and lush lawn.

Will my lawn recover after scarifying?

Yes, your lawn will not only recover but scarifying your lawn will actually improve overall health and promote better, stronger growth.

Is Grass a Weed?

First of all, let us define ‘weed’. Weeds are plants that grow where they are not wanted or in a way that is detrimental to the environment. This means that most plants in your garden qualify as weeds if you did not specifically plant them there! So, what about grass? Grass is considered a weed by many but not everyone would agree because many of us like having grass lawns.

Is Grass Edible?

No, regular grass in the UK is not edible. It has a bad taste, and no nutritional value and you would expend more energy digesting it than you gain from eating it.

However, many cultures around the world regularly consume grasses as part of their regular diet.

Will Grass Grow in Stony Soil?

Soil that is particularly stony is not great for growing grass, so it is a good idea to remove as many of the stones as possible. Stony soil also dries out and loses nutrients quickly, so amending with compost can help by providing an organic alternative that retains those minerals.

Can I Put Builders Rubble Under My Lawn?

The answer to this question is a resounding NO. Builders’ rubble, such as concrete and bricks, can cause more harm than good when it comes to your lawn.

Even if you are putting builders’ rubble under your lawn in order to help level out an incline or uneven ground, there are other ways that would be less harmful to your grass.

In the past, it was not uncommon to find builders’ rubble under lawns. However, this is no longer the case. The law changed in 1993 when builders were required to remove all of their rubbish from the site before leaving or they are fined for every tonne that has not been cleared away.

Can I Put Topsoil Over Grass and Reseed?

Yes, you can add topsoil over grass and reseed. This is often done to bring low spots up to level with the rest of the garden.

Do I Need to Remove Grass Before Rotavating?

No, you do not need to remove your grass before rotavating – but it is up to personal preference or what you are trying to achieve. Some people prefer removing their grass because it can help make for an easier clean-up afterwards. Grass removal also gives a more thorough look at any potential problems below ground level which may require further investigation.

How to get Daisies on your Lawn?

Daisies can be planted from seeds (you can buy a packet of daisy seeds at your local garden centre). Plant them in soil that is moist and full of nutrients, about 1 inch below ground level.

What are the White Grubs on my Lawn?

The grubs most frequently seen in lawns are called white grubs. They are the larvae of various beetles, including Japanese beetles and European Chafers.

Japanese beetle larvae can be distinguished by their dark heads which they use to push themselves through the soil looking for food and water sources. Chafer and May/ June grubs have light-coloured heads.

The biology of white grub larvae is such that they only emerge from their underground cocoon (or within a few inches of it) when the grassroots are soft and moist because this provides abundant food close to the surface.

Do Pigeons Eat Grass?

Mostly, pigeons eat seeds from various plants, but they will sometimes eat grass as well. The diet of the Common Pigeon varies depending on where it lives and the season. It mostly eats plant material such as a wide variety of seeds, nuts, vegetables, and fruit so long as it is available. They also enjoy feeding on peanuts that are sold during fairs or circuses.

What do Wood Pigeons Eat on the Lawn?

On a lawn, pigeons will spend their time eating grass seed, bugs, and deposits like guano left by other animals. Pigeons eat seeds from surrounding plants and trees. Pigeons also eat protein-rich foods like worms or insects they find in the ground.

Why is my Grass Growing in Patches?

The most common reason for grass to grow in patches or in ‘dribbles’ is due to underlying health issues within the soil, which often stem from compaction. Growth will take place where roots have better access because nutrients and water are available.

Debris build-up on the surface of your lawn may also result in growth occurring in ‘patches’. Soil that is too hard, compacted, or packed will inhibit root growth and eventual emergence. Too much shade will also delay plant development, so if there are woody plants (trees) near your home, this may contribute to a slower-growing lawn.

What to do if I Accidentally Sprayed Grass Killer on the Lawn?

When you realise you have sprayed your lawn with a herbicide or other harmful substance, the first step is to irrigate the grass thoroughly so that it dilutes the substance on the soil. If you have a sprinkler, this will work well. For areas with less extensive lawns, use a bucket of water and vigorously douse the area.

Should my Patio be Flush with Grass?

When it comes to aesthetics, it is your personal choice how you want your patio to look although if you are using wooden decking it may be a better idea to have it raised and create a small step up from the lawn to prevent the wood coming into contact with the grass or soil beneath.

Another reason for having your patio flush to the lawn may be because you have little mobility or even use a wheelchair so having a nice level transition may be important.

There are arguments for and against each patio design but as long as you are happy, it really is up to you.

Can you use Tomato Feed on Grass?

Using tomato feed on your lawn is not recommended, tomato feed is high in potassium and is designed to promote flowering and fruiting. A typical lawn feed will be much higher in nitrogen and is inexpensive so there really is no reason not to purchase lawn feed specifically designed for that purpose.

Is Grass Seed Safe for Dogs?

Grass seed is high in fibre and contains Vitamin A, B1, B2, PP (niacin), C, and K; so, in small doses, there is no reason to be concerned if your dog eats some. Every dog is different and while some dogs might not have an adverse reaction to ingesting grass seed, some may experience bloating and diarrhoea. Grass seed contains folic acid which can be toxic if ingested in large quantities or over time leading to liver damage


Author

Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.


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