Scarification is something most gardeners do in order to fight off thatch and moss. It’s very beneficial for your grass and although messy at times, is totally worth it in the end. The problem most people experience with scarifying their lawn, however, doesn’t stem from the act itself. It’s more of a consequence of choosing the wrong time of year or bad weather conditions.

Scarifying your lawn at the wrong time can leave it damaged and even worse than it was before. Therefore timing is key. But when exactly is the best time to scarify the lawn? Well in this post we’ll be looking to answer just that.

Table of Contents:

This post is for:

  • People wondering when to scarify your lawn.
  • Those who want to know the ups and downs of the preferential seasons.
  • Anyone with a lawn covered with heavy thatch and moss.

When to scarify a lawn

An abundance of moss and thatch in a lawn can push a person to some questionable decisions. Like performing scarification during the wrong time of year and completely butchering the lawn in the process.

But, this raises the question – when should I scarify my lawn?

The answer: Scarify your lawn in late spring(from mid-April to mid-June) or early autumn(September), but only if your grass is growing strongly. The ideal weather you should strive for is warm, sunny and a tad rainy. Avoid weather which is cold, hot and dry.

When to scarify your lawn in spring?

Perform light scarifying of your lawn during late spring, sometime in April. This is usually when the weather begins to warm up, which in turn increases the growth and recovery rate of thatch and moss. Avoid scarifying and de-thatching in summer as the heat and dryness during this season slow growth substantially.

 Scarifying in Autumn

Autumn is the best time of year to scarify a lawn ridden by heavy thatch and moss. While deep scarifying can lead to a thinning lawn with many exposed patches, it can also create the ideal seedbed. This makes the soil not only perfect for over-seeding with newer and improved grass seeds but also helps keep weeds away. By scarifying the grass in September, you automatically avoid a huge chunk of the year’s weed seeds waiting to be “sown”.

If you scarify your lawn in spring, however, there’s a huge chance you will replace all the moss and thatch with weeds. As spring and summer are the seasons when weed seeds are in abundance.

With that out of the way, there are some exceptions when spring beats autumn as the best time to scarify the lawn.

For example, shady areas should only be scarified in spring. As they thin over winter and thicken from spring onwards, scarifying them in autumn would only damage them. The same goes for areas located under trees where shade is inescapable.

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How often should you scarify your lawn?

The frequency at which you should scarify your lawn depends solely on the type of grass you have. Some fine grass species, like fescue, for example, produce enormous amounts of thatch. If your lawn contains such grasses you may need to scarify it more often, around twice a year(once in spring and a second time in autumn). This way you will keep it looking fresh while also stimulating healthy growth.

However, most domestic lawns in the UK have grass(like modern rye) which does not produce a ton of thatch. If you’re the owner of such a lawn, you’re in luck as you’ll only need to scarify it once every two years. A light scarification in spring and a more serious one in autumn.

Of course, there are also exceptions, like lawns that don’t need to be scarified ever. Through a balanced feeding programme and regular aeration, you can keep your lawn’s microbial activity at bay. This way the lawn will decompose thatch organically and won’t need any scarification.

tip

So, all in all, the answer to how often you should scarify your lawn is simple. Do it only when the lawn needs it. 

How to ready the lawn for scarification

Start off planning ahead. Your grass needs to be short and dry in order to be ready for scarifying. So, bring its height down steadily at least two weeks beforehand. This is done as to not shock the grass while also allowing it to dry faster.

Manually remove any visible weeds from your lawn a week before scarifying. Avoid using weed killer, as scarification can disrupt its effect and lead to even further complications with germination. 

In order to start scarifying, your lawn needs to have good soil moisture first. This will help it recover much quicker after the process. The soil has to be just right, neither moist and soft, neither dry and hard. So if it’s not there just yet, it might be a good idea to postpone scarifying it, until the soil’s conditions improve.  

Takeaways

  • When scarifying, do it either in spring or in autumn.
  • Avoid scarifying during hot and cold weather.
  • Always prepare the lawn a week or two before the scarification.

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Image source: iratxe_lopez/shutterstock.com

  • Last update: March 18, 2020

Posted in All About the Lawn, Garden Advice

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