Lawn scarification, also known as dethatching, is one of the most effective solutions to quite a pesky gardening problem that faces many people: Thatch build-up. No one likes dealing with dead grass patches, and many of us don’t even know why they occur. This article will explain to you where thatch comes from, how you can hinder its build-up before it becomes a problem, and how to get rid of it by scarifying your lawn.

What is Lawn Scarification?

Lawn scarification is the process of removing thatch from your lawn to prevent dead grass patches and to keep your lawn looking healthy. Fortunately, you can do this process by yourself using the proper tools, but first, you need to understand how thatching happens.

What Creates A Thatch?

Normally, the grass grows by the original plant system spreading underground stems called rhizomes. New shoots then grow from the underground stems to produce their own seeds. These seeds grow roots through the soil and the roots absorb nutrients to grow more grass above the soil.

Thatching occurs when these side shoots, from underground stems, start building up faster than the bacteria and microbes in the soil can break it down. In other words, thatch is a very normal component of the grass reproduction process, but when the bacteria in the soil can’t keep up – often due to environmental factors – thatch build-up develops.

Because thatch grows between the soil and the seeds/roots, too much thatch ends up getting in the way of new roots, preventing them from reaching the soil. Over time, this results in patches of dead grass all over your lawn

How To Scarify Your Lawn?

First off, scarifying isn’t a process that you can do whenever you want, as too much scarification can damage the soil. As we mentioned, some level of thatch is normal. To gauge whether or not you need to scarify, dig 5 cm (2 inches) using a hollow tine in various areas of the soil to check if the thatch is too thick (over 1.3 cm or ½ an inch).

Let’s say you live in the UK and you’ve got too much thatch. Before you scarify, you need to spend the three weeks before that clearing any weeds and gradually cutting the grass until it’s 5cm long. The last step is applying moss killer a week before, raking the moss, and after that, comes the scarifying. The key to a scarifying well done is having the proper tools. Now, buying a lawn scarifying can be a tad intimidating, especially if you’ve never bought one before. That’s why DIY Garden tested the UK’s best lawn scarifiers to help you out with the process. Keep in mind that there are several scarifier options to match your exact needs, so make sure to choose what suits you best in order to be comfortable when performing the process.

The first step in the scarification process is moving your scarifier along your lawn in straight lines, from one edge to the other. Don’t forget to rake and gather any remaining grass/thatch clippings. The second step is exactly similar to the first, except that you move diagonally, at a 45-degree angle, across the lawn. If you still have more thatch after the second step, rotate another 45 degrees and go a third time before you move on to the last step.

After you’re finished, cut half a centimeter into the soil using the blades to allow the growth of new seeds.

How to Prevent Thatching in the Future?

Luckily, you don’t have to scarify your lawn often. There are a few tips and tricks to help you avoid, or at least prolong, the hassle of dealing with thatch build-up:

  • Regularly mow your lawn and collect the longer trimmings that fall behind.
  • Aerate your lawn every year or two.
  • Regularly rake dead grass and excess thatch before it accumulates.

That’s all there is to lawn scarification. To recap, thatch prevents the growth of new grass and results in dead patches in the lawn. If left to build up for a long time, it can promote the growth of fungi which, in turn, can spread diseases to the rest of your lawn. Scarification is the process of removing the thatch in order to make space for new seeds and restore the soil and lawn back to their original condition. The process can be a hassle, but it is essential, and as long as you stick to the tips and tricks we mentioned above, you won’t need to frequently scarify your lawn.