Lawn Rakers and Scarifiers Buyers Guide
Even the most diligent gardener can end up with a lawn that has a dense layer of dead grass clippings on the surface of the soil. Whilst these can rot down and provide some nutrition to the soil, if left in sufficient quantities for long enough then they will build up to such an extent that the drainage is restricted and the lawn will feel permenantly spongy and damp.
The layer of thatch also restricts air flow to the soil too, which further compounds the problem. Moss loves damp and shady lawns and will out-compete the grass for moisture, light and nutrition thus leaving you with a lawn that’s over run with moss.
Keep Your Grass in Tip Top Shape
To prevent this happening you’ll need to use a lawn raker every couple of months to remove as much thatch as possible to prevent the lawn staying permantently wet.
Grass always manages to grow where you don’t want it to because it spreads horizontally by putting out stolons or offshoots which then put down their own roots.. By cutting these, the resulting new grass plants will be encouraged to grow and thicken.
A lawn raker and/or scarifier can help with these jobs but should you buy or hire these tools ?
In our opinion an inexpensive lawn raker is a good investment as it’ll be used three to four times a year but it’s probably not worth buying a scarifier to use just once a year. It would make more sense to hire one from a local hire shop as they need to be stronger and more powerful than a lawn raker and therefore more expensive to buy. That said, it is possible to buy units that offer both features in one.
Lawn rakers and lawn scarifiers bear more than a passing resemblence to lawn mowers but once you turn them over the differences become soon apparent. Thankfully both kinds include some kind of collection system as the amount of debris that gets removed from the lawn can be astonishing.
A lawn raker usually consists of a plastic cylinder covered in sprung metal tines which comb the lawn, pulling out moss, thatch and stolons (horizontal grass shoots). You should be able to adjust the height to control how much thatch gets removed. A lawn raker should be used every couple of months during the growing season.
A lawn scarifier looks similar to a lawn raker but has a series of fixed rotating knives. Like the lawn raker, this should has some form of height adjustment system so that, on the highest level, it collects moss and thatch. The knives will also cut through the stolons encouraging the grass to grow thicker and stronger. On the lower levels it’ll actually cut into the soil below the grass allowing air in. A lawn scarifier should be used once a year in the late Autumn or early Spring.
2-in-1 Rakers and Scarifiers
These consists have a removable drum which can be replaced with either a lawn raker unit or a scarifier unit. These do tend to be more expensive though so it’s important to be sure that you’re going to use it to its full capability.
How to Rake Your Lawn
During the growing season it’s best to rake your lawn every couple of months although if you’re pushed for time we’d recommend a minimum of a Spring and Autumn rake.
Most lawn rakers are electric and even if you’ve got a large garden we’d recommend getting an electric one as they are much more cost effective than petrol-powered units. If you’ve got a large garden you’ll almost certainly need to use at least one extension lead to the far ends so bear this mind before you start.
How to Scarify Your Lawn
Scarification is a much more intense task and should really only be done once a year. It’s one of those jobs where you start and realise that you’re making a mess of the lawn but, so long as there is plenty of grass left, then your lawn will recover quite quickly.
Firstly you’ll want to apply moss killer to kill any moss in the lawn otherwise the scarifier will just spread it around the lawn. This usually needs to be done a couple of weeks before you scarify the lawn.
On the day of the scarification, cut the lawn on a close cut and then start to scarify with the scarifier on it’s highest setting. Go over it again at right angles and then lower the scarifier slightly and repeat a few times.
Once you’re done, scatter seed over the lawn and then a thin layer of sharp sand, sieved compost and soil which will fill any holes and will cover the grass seed helping it to germinate.