A Scarifier Buyer’s Guide

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Lawn Scarifier

If your garden and lawn is your true pride and joy, then you will understand the annoyance of not being able to get that green and healthy look from your lawn. No matter how many times you fertilise, mow and water your lawn, it just doesn’t have the fresh look of your neighbours. Well, we could have the answer – scarifying!

A scarifier is designed to rake away all the parts in your lawn (such as thatch and weeds) that you don’t need, giving your grass that space to breath and grow. This will leave you with a lawn enviable by anyone! Ranging in price from as little as £50 to as much as £400, there really is a model out there to suit every home and every budget.

Whether new to the world of scarifiers or looking for an updated model that will help you even further in your mission for that perfect lawn, then this article is for you. We have outlined exactly what a scarifier does, how it can benefit your garden, and the different features to look out for when purchasing a scarifier.

Best Pick Lawn Scarifier

VonHaus 2 in 1 Lawn Scarifier - 1800W Electric Garden Rake with 5 Depth Settings & 55L Collection Box - for Year Round Lawn Maintenance
37 Reviews
VonHaus 2 in 1 Lawn Scarifier - 1800W Electric Garden Rake with 5 Depth Settings & 55L Collection Box - for Year Round Lawn Maintenance
  • 2 IN 1 – with interchangeable scarifier drums included, this multifunctional tool with an 1800W motor lifts debris from your lawn and perforates the soil to promote healthy grass growth
  • 5 DEPTH SETTINGS – 38cm working width makes easy work of small and mid-sized lawns, while the manual lever lets you select between 5 operational heights (-12/-9/-6/-3/+6mm) for all-season lawn maintenance
  • 55L CAPACITY COLLECTION BOX – no need for manual raking - simply attach the 55L collection box to continuously gather lawn debris. A thermal cut-out and two-stage safety start ensure safe operation
  • COMPACT FOR STORAGE – folding soft-grip handle and removable grass box for convenient storage with a built-in carry handle for easy transportation. Dimensions: L60 x D120 x H99cm. Cable length: 10m

Only Got 5 Minutes?

If your lawn troubles are getting you down and you want a fix – and quick – then this part of the article is for you. All the most important information you need to go and rescue your poorly lawn as quickly as possible!

Why Do I Need a Scarifier?

If you are like me, then you might be wondering why you need to purchase a device that will help your grass to get more air – it’s outside in the fresh air constantly – does it really need you investing your well-earned money in a tool to help it get even more air?! Well, actually the answer is yes! The difference that it will make to your lawn really is quite incredible! Now, for the science behind it…

It is important to remember that your lawn is made up of a number of blades of grass (usually around 850 per square foot!). Thatch is an organic matter that builds up between the blades of grass in your garden. There is nothing wrong with this – it is just how lawns grow (basically when blades of grass die they don’t rot, so this build-up continues as more blades grow etc), however, it is bad for the overall growth of your lawn.

You wouldn’t try to grow other plants in your garden so close together, and expect them to grow successfully! Therefore, you really cannot expect the same for your grass, as this thatch, and other matter such as weeds and moss will stop your grass from getting the nutrients, air and sunlight that it needs.

A scarifier is essentially a big rake that pulls out some of the debris that isn’t needed in your lawn. Blades cut into the turf to lift out all of the moss and thatch that is suffocating your precious grass. At the same time, your scarifier will leave small holes in the ground to allow more air and water to get to the soil.

Best Budget Lawn Scarifier

NETTA 2 in 1 Lawn Scarifier and Aerator – 1400W Electric Garden Rake with 5 Working Depths & 10m Power Cable
20 Reviews
NETTA 2 in 1 Lawn Scarifier and Aerator – 1400W Electric Garden Rake with 5 Working Depths & 10m Power Cable
  • POWERFUL: The powerful 1400W motor will provide you with more than enough power to tackle your lawn. It will easily remove moss, thatch, leaves and other debris to leave your garden looking pristine. This scarifier and aerator also comes with an adjustable handle height to make operation as easy as can be.
  • 2 IN 1: This machine features a handy 2 in 1 function which means you can both scarify and aerate your lawn. It comes as two separate drums which are easily interchangeable. It also has five different depth settings – 1) Drive/Transportation, 2) Scarifier Depth 1mm, 3) 3mm, 4) 7mm, 5) 11mm – which gives you the freedom to groom your grass just the way you want it.
  • DIMENSIONS: 53cm x 85cm x 100cm | PACKAGE: 55cm x 45cm x 32xm | WEIGHT: 13.6kg.
  • WARRANTY: We aim to give the best customer service possible. In the unlikely event that this product is at fault, do not worry, as we have you covered with our 365-day warranty. This gives you peace of mind when purchasing a product from us.
  • Easy, convenient and efficient, this powerful 1400W 2 in 1 scarifier and aerator offers a quick and simple way to maintain a healthy, tidy lawn

What to Look for in a Scarifier

Although you may only be using your scarifier a handful of times throughout the year, it is important that you buy the right one. Opting for a cheaper, less suitable model may leave your lawn damaged and give you a much harder job than you anticipated!

  • The first thing that you need to consider is how you want your scarifier to be powered. For this, you will have three main options: Manual, electric and petrol.
    • Manual scarifiers will usually be cheaper, and are considerably cheaper to run as you only need to fuel yourself! However, they are going to be a lot more difficult to use than electric or petrol models as you will have to have the strength to push the machine and the blades through the grass.
    • Electric models will be easier to use than manual models, but you have the disadvantage of being limited to how far away from a mains power source you can travel (which is going to be an issue with a bigger garden).
    • Petrol models will save both the problems with the ease of use of the manual scarifiers and the lack of flexibility as to how far away from your house you can work, which is an issue with the electric models. However, petrol scarifiers are considerably more expensive than their electric and manual counterparts, and will also be heavier and more costly to use! 
  • The more teeth, claws or blades the better! On average, scarifiers will have between 14-20 blades. The more blades, the more organic matter they will be able to rake up in one go! Also consider the quality of the blade material (stainless steel, tempered steel etc) as this will affect how long you can expect them to last and stay sharp.
  • Some scarifiers will have blades that can be individually replaced. This may sound like a bit of a faff but will save you considerable time and money, and make sure your scarifier has a long life!
  • Cutting width and depth – many scarifiers will only cut the surface of your lawn (cutting at most a few millimetres in depth). Many mid to high-end models offer deeper penetration tools that will scarify between 2.5-5cm deep – this means that you will be able to use the tool as an aerator as well, for maximum lawn care. Consider models that offer adjustable depth so that you can find what is right for your garden.
  • Cutting width – this is the width of the rotating strip that holds the blades. The wider the strip, the more of your lawn that will be covered at one time. This means you will have fewer lengths of the lawn to do!
  • Last but definitely not least is the usability – This is particularly important if you have a larger lawn as you will be using your scarifier for even longer! Consider the position of the handles and if they have a comfort grip, the collection bag capacity as this will affect how often you need to stop to empty it and finally the weight of the scarifier as this will affect how easy the machine is to propel up your garden.

TOP TIP: Look out for scarifiers with a longer warranty – if you are only going to be using your scarifier a couple of times a year, you want one that is going to last a number of years so you can get your money’s worth! Most scarifiers have around a three-year warranty!

What is the difference between an Aerator, Raker and a Scarifier?

These three tools are often seen as being the same thing but they are actually massively different! An aerator is used to put holes in your soil so that fertilizer and water can penetrate the soil to help the growth of your lawn. A lawn raker is closer in use to a scarifier but doesn’t actually have blades that can cut into the thatch and moss to remove it. This means that the cylinder will simply comb through the lawn removing any loose organic material. Whereas a scarifier is able to destroy vegetable matter with its blades which rake the ground, removing plant debris and weeds. Some scarifiers do now also come with an aerator feature, but you would be hard-pressed to find an aerator that comes with a scarifier feature!

How and When to Scarify

Scarifying is a really simple process – once you know-how. Follow our simple instructions to make your first scarifying experience a good one!

The most important thing to remember about when to scarify is to make sure that you never complete the work in winter,  as this will really damage your lawn. If you are only lightly scarifying and don’t have a lot of organic matter to remove, then you can complete the job in late spring to around April, and then again in late summer to early autumn. However, if you have never scarified your lawn, and it appears to have a lot of thatch and moss then we would recommend leaving your scarifying until middle to late autumn (just be sure to not scarify if your grass is particularly wet). It is important not to scarify your lawn too often – we would recommend twice a year!

  1. Make sure your grass is not too long before you start scarifying – this may mean you mowing your lawn before starting!
  2. Remove any large weeds or stones from the lawn first.
  3. Make sure to start at the highest setting and then work your way lower until you are happy with the amount of moss that has been lifted. Starting at the lowest setting could leave you with a number of bald patches on your lawn if you are not careful, so although it will take longer to go over your lawn a few times with a lower setting each time, this is the best way to ensure your grass does not become too damaged.
  4. Simply push your machine forwards along your lawn (as you would a lawnmower).  As you do this the blades will rotate and tear through the organic matter that you are hoping to remove.
  5. Some models will come with collection bags whereas others will leave the debris behind as you are moving forward (this is actually sometimes better with the amount that is often lifted out of the lawn!).

TOP TIP: Make sure to not scarify your lawn if it is too damp, particularly first thing in the morning. As well as this is it important your lawn is growing well before you scarify, otherwise, you could damage it irreparably.

Post-Scarifying Advice

After scarifying your lawn, we would recommend applying a moss killer (to remove any determined, leftover moss) and applying a lawn feed (to help your lawn recover and grow quickly).

Any bare patches that have been created from scarifying should be reseeded during the start of autumn to allow the grass to grow strong and provide you with a healthy, green lawn the following year.

Best of the Rest

Einhell GE-SA 1335 P Petrol Scarifier/Aerator with 35 cm Working Width
47 Reviews
Einhell GE-SA 1335 P Petrol Scarifier/Aerator with 35 cm Working Width
  • Four stroke engine, cordless and independent
  • 3 in 1 combination tool: scarifying, aerating and catching
  • Blade roller supported by ball bearings with 20 stainless steel blades
  • 3 stage operating depth adjustment with parking position
  • Large 28 litre catch bag
AL-KO Comfort 38E Combi-Care 2 in 1 Lawnrake Collector 1300W Powerful Motor-38cm Wide Width Electric Scarifier, 1300 W, 38cm
42 Reviews
AL-KO Comfort 38E Combi-Care 2 in 1 Lawnrake Collector 1300W Powerful Motor-38cm Wide Width Electric Scarifier, 1300 W, 38cm
  • Lightweight, electric scarifier with 38cm working width and 14 steel blades. Suitable for small - medium sized garden lawns
  • 3INONE function - Scarify, Aerate and Grass Catch: Scarifing and catching is included as standard with the large 55 litre catcher box. The aerator roller has 24 steel spring tines and is easy to change without the need for tools
  • No battery or petrol is required as the scarifier is powered by a 1300 watt electrical motor
  • In addition to regular mowing, lawn surfaces should be scarified in spring and autumn, in order to allow oxygen, water and nutrients easier access to the grass roots. The steel blades of the scarifier penetrate into the grass surface and thoroughly remove lawn thatch, as well as moss and plant residues. After the scarification, the treated areas should be fertilised, re-seeded and vigorously watered. These measures improve both nutrient uptake, irrigation and ultimately promote new grass-growing
  • 2 year manufacturers warranty
Powerplus 1300 Watt 2 in 1 Electric Lawn Scarifier / Aerator with 5 Working Depths Supplied with 10m Extension Cable POWXG7512 - 3 Year Home User Warranty
67 Reviews
Powerplus 1300 Watt 2 in 1 Electric Lawn Scarifier / Aerator with 5 Working Depths Supplied with 10m Extension Cable POWXG7512 - 3 Year Home User Warranty
  • Take pride in your lawn and scarify and aerate it with this very powerful 2 in 1 machine. Using 5 cutting heights you can select what type of finish you want on your lawn.
  • Motor: 1300 watt
  • 320mm working width - 18 needles & 10 knives
  • Supplied with 10 Metre Extension Cable: POW636ECUK
  • 3 Year Home User Warranty

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I need a scarifier?

Most lawns will benefit from a scarifier at some point! In fact, it would be unlikely that you would find a lawn that wouldn’t. If you lawn feels springy and spongy to the touch or has yellow patches at the base when you move the grass apart with your fingers – then you need a scarifier for your lawn. However, it is always beneficial to use a scarifier on your lawn before it gets to this point if you want it to be growing as well as possible!

Help! I have used a scarifier and my lawn looks a mess!

Don’t panic! This is totally normal after you have first used a scarifier on your lawn – especially if it has become taken over with thatch and other organic debris! A scarifier can leave your lawn looking a bit of a mess, this is because it is has removed a lot of the bad stuff that you don’t want to take over your lawn. But we promise that it will be worth it, once your lawn starts to grow properly and uninhibited by the thatch then you will see fantastic results!

What can I use to scarify my large lawn?

If you have a particularly large lawn that is in need of scarifying then you can purchase ride-on accessory scarifiers for your ride-on mower! Your ride on-mower will have to support these attachments, so it is important to bear this in mind, but if it does then you will simply be able to connect it to the back of the mower and tow it behind you (be mindful that you will probably have to rake up the debris afterwards though as these models do not come with collection bags).

About Francesca Fitton 108 Articles
I have a passion for gardening and being outdoors. I blog about plant care, technology and tools that I love to use outside and invite you along to watch.

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