Dethatching the lawn: timing, instructions and avoidable mistakes

To get rid of weeds, moss and yellow spots, you should scarify the lawn at least once a year. For the best result, the right timing and following a guide as well as some tips are crucial.

Dethatching the lawn: timing, instructions and avoidable mistakes

one should scarify at least once a year to get rid of weeds. (Image: uhg1234/clipdealer.en)

Dethatching the lawn: What tips should be followed?

The question of whether to scarify the lawn is controversial among amateur gardeners. Proponents point to the benefits of better aeration of the lawn and the removal of weeds, moss, as well as dead lawn plants. On the other hand, opponents of dethatching argue that fertilizing the lawn would be enough to prevent unwanted growth of moss and weeds for optimal garden maintenance. In your opinion, the procedure is harmful to the lawn.

Experts also advocate dethatching, but make it clear that this alone is not enough for a garden to enjoy a well-kept, lush green carpet of grass. If, for example, moss repeatedly takes over, you should check the pH value of the soil. If it is too low, it helps to lime the lawn to control the problem with moss.

What are the advantages of scarifying the lawn??

Most gardening guides recommend this type of lawn care because there are some benefits associated with it, at least if it is done at the right time and professionally:

  • Better supply of oxygen to the lawn
  • thereby optimal supply of the grasses with nutrients
  • Removing moss and weeds
  • Removal of lawn thatch

If the soil in the garden is heavy and loamy, then it tends to form waterlogging and, in addition, the supply of oxygen to the grasses is not guaranteed. In addition to a shady location, this is the main reason for heavy moss growth and too many weeds.

What is the optimal time for dethatching??

The above benefits result in the lawn growing denser after dethatching and also becoming more durable. When is the time for this type of garden maintenance? A tip from experienced gardeners is to scarify the lawn when loose raking pulls out moss pockets or residue from mowing. Also excessive growth of weeds is a clear sign that the lawn should be scarified.

In principle, it is possible to scarify the lawn during the entire growth period from spring to the beginning of autumn. The best time is however the spring from April to May. In the following warm season, a dense grass cover is formed especially quickly and you can enjoy the result of garden maintenance all summer long. Before scarifying, make sure that the lawn is dry.

Optimal results are achieved with the following procedure:

  • First fertilize the lawn with nitrogenous fertilizer
  • then mow the lawn twice
  • only then follows the scarifying
  • if necessary, repeat the scarifying process in autumn

Guide to choosing a tool: Which scarifier is suitable??

scarifiers are equipped with an axle or spindle, which can be equipped with rotating or fixed blades. The axle is set in rotation by the motor and in this way scores the turf a few millimeters deep. This will knock out lawn thatch, weeds and mosses.

If you need to scarify a large lawn, you should buy a gasoline scarifier or rent it from a hardware store, because it makes the work much faster and easier. It also avoids awkward handling of the electric cable and accidental cutting of the cord. Another advantage of gasoline scarifiers is that they are heavy enough for the blades to penetrate deep enough into the turf on clayey soils.

Small surfaces, which are accessible beyond that problem-free, can be worked on however also with a handy electrical Vertikutierer. Make sure that the equipment is not too light, otherwise the blades will not cut into the turf. In this case, it helps to weigh down the scarifier with a weight (for example, a small sandbag). The use of a manual scarifier requires a lot of power and is therefore only recommended for small areas or individual matted areas.

Working instructions for scarifying the lawn

The following steps are necessary before, during and after scarifying to achieve the desired result:

  1. Preparation of the lawn
  2. Choose the perfect time
  3. Scarify
  4. collect the cuttings
  5. Ensure nutrient supply and reseed
  6. Watering the area

1. Preparation of the lawn

Garden maintenance starts in spring with fertilizing the lawn. Once the growth phase begins, it is necessary to provide the necessary nutrients to the grasses. About a week after fertilizing the area is mowed for the first time in the season. After the second mowing one week later it is time for scarifying. At this time the grasses have already absorbed the nutrients of the fertilizer and recover particularly quickly.

Before starting the work collect leaves and branches from the area. It is recommended that tree and shrub pruning is also carried out beforehand, so that as much light as possible falls on the lawn plants, so that the seeds germinate well and the grasses grow vigorously.

2. Choose the perfect time

The temperature should be consistently above ten degrees Celsius, so that the lawn seeds have good conditions for germination. In addition, the surface must necessarily be dry. However, rain announced for later or the next day is advantageous, because then you save yourself the work of watering.

3. Scarify

The area is first mowed as short as possible, so that the grasses are given a growth incentive and the blades of the scarifier can penetrate deep enough into the turf.

The setting of the scarifier depends on the thickness of the layer of moss, felt or weeds to be removed. The blades should score the turf one to a maximum of two centimeters.

Now you drive with the scarifier the area slowly, without stopping, because otherwise you would stress these areas too much. After the lawn is cleared in longitudinal lanes, repeat the process in transverse lanes. This creates a checkerboard pattern and ensures that all areas have been treated.

Dethatching the lawn: timing, instructions and avoidable mistakes

You should go over the affected area with the scarifier in one go. (Image: alex011973/

4. Collecting cuttings

Now the loosened cuttings are raked up with a rake, collected and then disposed of in the organic waste garbage can or at the recycling center. After the clippings are collected, only healthy, vigorous green lawn plants remain. Under no circumstances should the process be repeated immediately, as it puts the plants under tremendous stress.

5. Ensure nutrient supply and reseed

If fertilizing has not been done before, it should be done now. The best results are achieved by the amateur gardener with a slow-release fertilizer, which ensures that there is no over- or under-fertilization, but rather an even supply of nutrients.

In all likelihood, bare spots will show up, so reseeding with lawn seed will also be necessary to ensure the lawn is tight again after two to three weeks at the most. There are special reseeding mixtures that are best suited for this purpose. By scarifying the soil, the seeds find optimal hold in the soil and will germinate quickly.

Now is also the perfect time to improve soil quality. Loamy soils are loosened with lawn sand. In this way, more oxygen reaches the lawn roots. If, on the other hand, the soil is too loose, so that it is dry again just a few minutes after a downpour or after watering, it helps to work in humus.

6. Watering the area

The next two weeks the lawn should be spared and watered regularly, so that the plants recover optimally and form a strong lawn carpet, in which weeds and moss have no chance, because they are displaced by the grasses. Only after two weeks is the area open for play and romping again. Now you can continue with the normal maintenance routine, which consists of weekly mowing, daily watering during dry periods and regular fertilizing.

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