A scarifier (or dethatcher), is a lawn care machine to remove moss, thatch and weeds, while also aerating the ground. Scarifying your lawn will revitalise it and result in a healthier lawn.
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A lawn scarifier, also called a dethatcher, is a machine that is used to remove moss, thatch and weeds from lawns, while also aerating the ground. The original English term for this is 'verticutting'. Scarifying your lawn once every year will revitalise your lawn and result in a healthier lawn, with the main benefit being that water will more easily go deeper under the ground and more oxygen can reach the soil as it is not stopped anymore by the thatch and moss. Additional benefits are that the roots of the grass have more room to grow, and that the spreading of moss is halted.
Illustration of the effect of using a scarifier.
When using a scarifier, it is good to keep the following advice in mind:
After scarifying a lawn, there are a few subsequent actions you can/ should take. Fertilizing your lawn is typically recommended, and depending on the type of soil you could also sand your lawn. After fertilizing and sanding, you can do a seeding if the lawn is too thin.
Because a lawn only starts to grow as of a minimal ground temperature is reached, it is recommended to scarify the lawn in spring (somewhere in April or first half of May), because the lawn will better regenerate. If you want to dethatch your lawn a second time in a year, autumn would be the best option.
A less drastic way to ensure more air will reach the roots of the grass on your lawn is aeration. Unlike scarifying where you remove moss and thatch, you only make holes in the grass with aeration. Different types of aerators exist:
In contrast with scarifying, aeration is best done when the soil is moist.
When using a scarifier it is recommended to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Recommended safety equipment for a scarifier consists of the following: protection goggles, dust mask, foot protection, ear protection and hand protection.
Guide written by Tomas Mertens (Master of Engineering at KU Leuven)