How to Scarify A Lawn & Best Lawn Scarifiers

In todays guide we look at how to scarify a lawn and the best scarifying tools depending on your needs.

Your lawn is a living entity, and regular maintenance is key to keeping it healthy. Mowing the lawn often is one of the best ways of keeping weeds at bay and allowing water and nutrients to get to the roots. One of the problems caused by regular mowing is debris, moss, and dead grass. To deal with this we must occasionally scarify the lawn. Follow my steps below and learn how to scarify a lawn safely.

How To Scarify A Lawn

  1. Use a lawn rake to collect debris from the lawn
  2. Apply a weed killer (3 weeks before the planned date of scarification) in case your lawn has a lot of weeds, in preparation for scarifying the lawn. Do this while being vigilant not to destroy the grass.  
  3. Apply a moss killer, in cases where the lawn is suffering from an invasion of moss, approximately one week before the planned date of scarification. Doing so will make scarification easier.
  4. Use a manual or powered scarifier to remove moss, dead material, and thatch

What Is Lawn Scarification?

Apart from the regular weeds you are used to, thatch and moss also affect your lawn negatively. Too much thatch and moss on your lawn are harmful to the health and appearance of the grass. Thatch and moss deprive the grass of the necessary elements needed for healthy growth. At some point, you need to remove them from your lawn. It would be best if you embraced scarifying so that you can help your lawn maintain healthy and good-looking grass. 

Therefore, lawn scarification is the process of eradicating moss and thatch from your lawn, to maintain a healthy and beautiful lawn. A common word used in place of lawn scarification is “dethatching”, but there is a slight difference between these two processes.

Dethatching is an option used in less intensive situations, whereas scarifying is used in more intensive cases. The reason behind that is because dethatching is a light process, whereas scarifying is more intense and more invasive to the soil.

What Is Moss?

Weeds are a common sight on lawns, and moss is one of the weeds you will find on your lawn. Different types of mosses have different types of appearances. Some mosses are loose and such make your lawn feel elastic. Other mosses like Polytrichum form densely and end up looking like little forests. If you have an unhealthy lawn, mosses are most likely to flourish in it.

Moss can grow for various reasons. Here are some of the main reasons;

Too Much Rain and Poor Drainage

Your lawn only needs enough water/rainfall, and too much of it, causes a buildup of moisture below the turf and can host moss. When poor drainage meets too much rain, the surface beneath the turf retains too much water and mosses flourish in such areas.

Low Soil pH

Grass cannot grow well in an area where the soil is too acidic, but mosses will. If the pH-level is lower than 6; you need to raise the level and maintain it at a level between 6 and 7. One of the best ways of raising soil pH is using lime.

Remember always to seek professional help or advice before you try any solutions on your lawn.

Very Little Water

Just as too much moisture can encourage the growth of moss, inadequate water can also promote moss growth. When the lawn lacks enough water, for example, in the drought season, the grass thins out. Once the grass thins out, mosses secure an opportunity to establish themselves when the rainy season returns. Ensure you always water your lawn enough times when there are no rains.

What Is Thatch?

Unlike moss, thatch is not a type of weed. Thatch is a combined layer of both living and dead roots, stems, and leaves. Leaves, roots, stems, together with plant remains, and grass tissues accrue over time and cover the lawn’s surface. Thatch buildup occurs due to some practices that include; overwatering, shallow watering, and infrequent mowing of the lawn.

Why Scarify a Lawn?

Your lawn can benefit from some centimeters of thatch because thatch protects grassroots. However, too much thatch can affect your lawn negatively. Too much thatch will prevent nutrients, water, or air from penetrating the grassroots, preventing healthy grass growth. You need to scarify your lawn to ensure your lawn grass receives all the essential elements it needs to grow healthy.

Apart from blocking essential elements from reaching the grassroots, too much thatch has other consequences;

  • They prevent grassroots from embedding themselves in soil, and during drought, your grass stands the risk of damage.
  • They can encourage the growth of weeds on your lawn.

When to Scarify Your Lawn?

Scarifying a lawn needs to occur at the right time because it is a process that can cause stress on your lawn. Strive to scarify your lawn when the grass is growing sturdily. Scarifying a lawn leaves the soil uncovered, and during this time, weeds can charge in and take over. Scarifying when the grass is growing strongly means that it can recover fast, without giving weeds the chance to prosper.

The best times for scarifying lawns are in the late spring and when autumn comes knocking. Late spring offers your lawn enough warmth and moisture, whereas early autumn is the time when most grass is growing healthily and fast. The warmth and moisture that the grass will receive in late spring will help with recovery. On the other hand, during early autumn, the grass is thriving, this will ensure fast recovery of your lawn. 

What Are Lawn Scarifiers?

Lawn scarifiers are the garden tools you use to remove thatch and moss from your lawn. Two common types of scarifiers are the manual and the electric-powered ones.

Manual/hand scarifiers depend on the strength of the user because they are not motorized. They work best only on small lawns. Even though they are not ideal for intense work, they are easier to operate than a typical lawn rake.

On the other hand, electric-powered scarifiers are ideal for use on various lawns (though not suitable for very large ones). With electric-powered scarifiers, you will save energy and time since they are motorized. Additionally, most of them contain a collection container essential for collecting the moss and thatch when you are scarifying.

How to Scarify a Lawn?

Before using a lawn scarifier there are some things you need to do to ease the scarifying process, and they include; 

  • Use a rake to collect larger pieces of thatch and debris
  • Apply a weed killer (3 weeks before the planned date of scarification) in case your lawn has a lot of weeds, in preparation for scarifying the lawn. Do this while being vigilant not to destroy the grass.  
  • Apply a moss killer, in cases where the lawn is suffering from an invasion of moss, approximately 1 week before the planned date of scarification. Doing so will make scarification easier.

After preparing for scarification, it is time to scarify your lawn. The way you will scarify your lawn depends on the type of scarifier you choose.

Scarifying With a Manual Scarifier

Firstly, using a manual tool will take a bit of time, so, if you choose this method, you will need additional time for scarifying, depending on the size of your lawn. To effectively scarify the lawn using a manual lawn scarifier, apply back and forth motions to the scarifying tool. To do this, you need to be energetic enough, so make sure you go to the field prepared.

While scarifying using a manual tool, you should keep tilting the handle so that you can adjust the penetration of the blade. If you do not adjust the blade, you might miss the chance to scarify deep enough into the ground to allow for aeration.  

Scarifying With a Powered Scarifier

When you decide to use a powered scarifier, you do not have to worry about the effort required, as these machines work fast. However, a powered scarifier comes with the temptation of going heavy on the lawn to finish work quickly. Doing so will only damage your lawn.

Begin scarifying gently when using a powered scarifier so that you avoid harming the lawn. When you need to adjust the tool’s height, remember to always adjust it slowly.

Here are other vital points you should remember when scarifying your lawn;

  • Work on dry soil to make work easier and to protect tools.
  • After scarifying in arid conditions, water your lawn.
  • In dry weather, collect the leaves on your lawn before scarifying, to make humus, and use the humus later to provide nutrients to the soil. 

Best Lawn Scarifiers

Finding the perfect lawn scarifier is not an easy task, and many times people make the wrong choice because they lack options.

To help you settle for the right scarifier, here is a list of 5 of the best lawn scarifiers in the market right now;

In a Hurry?
Don’t have time to read through all of our selected scarifiers, we have you covered. Here is our top pick:

Best Lawn Scarifier
WORX WG850 Corded Dethatcher – click here for the latest price

Greenworks 40V 14-Inch Cordeless Dethatcher/Scarifier, 4Ah Battery and Charger Included DHF301

This cordless scarifier is perfect for smaller lawns, with 30 mins of run time from a single charge and only 120 mins recharge time makes this a fantastic option and with no cords to restrict movement. With its 14-inch blade width, it will make dethatching your lawn a breeze. This maintenance-free unit requires no gas or oil and no emissions to worry about. When ordering please ensure the battery is included.

Click here for the latest price

This scarifier has a folding handle for easy storage and with a weight of just 16.5 pounds, it’s easy to move around. Perfect for older users. The only downside is the initial cost of the unit plus the battery.


  • Easy to assemble
  • No cords or emissions
  • Stainless steel tines
  • Provides you with the chance to scarify and aerate your lawn
  • It is light (approximately 16.5 lbs)


  • limited battery life
  • Suitable for relatively small lawns
  • Expensive

Sun Joe AJ801E 13 in. 12 Amp Electric Scarifier

This Sun Joe AJ801E 13 tool is a lawn dethatcher as well as a scarifier. It has a powerful 12 Amp motor that can rake a 13-inch wide path. The machine comes with a removable bag that makes disposal easy. The item weighs around 27 lbs and comes with a 2-year warranty.

Click here for the latest price


  • Safety switch
  • Easy to assemble


  • Critics have said that the machine died within the first few uses. However, this is a rare case, and most reviews about the product are positive.

Greenworks Corded Dethatcher 27022

This Greenworks dethatcher comes with a 14-inch dethatcher roller and a 10 Amp electric motor. It boasts of stainless steel tines and foldable handles for easy storage. The Greenworks dethatcher also comes with a 3-position tine depth adjustment. Additionally, you receive a 4-year warranty for the tools when you purchase this item.

Click here for the latest price


  • Stainless steel tines
  • Foldable handles
  • The 4-year warranty


  • No collection bag
  • Not a self-propelled scarifier

WORX WG850 Corded Dethatcher

You can set this dethatcher to -9mm. -3mm or +3mm. With these 3 depth adjustments, you can adjust the settings depending on how deep you need to scarify your lawn. The WORX dethatcher has a foldable handle that makes it easy for you to store the tool. The tool also guarantees safety since it comes with a lock-off switch.

Click here for the latest price


  • Lock-off switch


  • The need to manually adjust the dethatcher when you want to scarify


In this article we looked at how to scarify a lawn and I provided a selection of the best lawn scarifiers to suit various situations.

Do not allow thatch and moss to compromise the health and beauty of your lawn when you can scarify your lawn. Scarifying will ensure that the grass on your lawn receives the elements and nutrients it requires to grow healthy and attractive. Don’t worry about the effort required to scarify, you can opt to use a powered tool. There are a variety of scarifiers in the market and you can choose one depending on your lawn’s case and your budget. 

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