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How to Choose a Lawn Scarifier or Lawn Raker

We can’t tell you which Lawn Scarifier/Lawn raker to buy. However, we can help you to choose one. Armed with a few basic pointers, you can easily select the right lawn scarifier/lawn raker to suit your garden and your budget.

What is the difference between a Lawn Scarifier and a Lawn Raker?

A lawn scarifier uses vertical rotating blades to remove the thatch and is often referred to as a verticutter. Whereas a lawn raker uses metal tines on springs. The metal tines are designed to mimic manual raking and make moss removal from your lawn a lot easier.

Which One Should I Choose?

Whether you choose a scarifier or a lawn raker will very much depend on your budget and the time you have. Reading the following points might help you decide which one is right for you.

  • Lawn rakers are cheaper than scarifiers.
  • Using a lawn raker a few times throughout the season will give your lawn the best chance of growing. It will allow the lawn to breathe and let light to the new shoots down low, enabling the lawn to become thicker.
  • You may only need to use a scarifier once a year, saving you time.
  • A scarifier will remove a lot more thatch and moss than a lawn raker. Great if you have a very mossy lawn.

Lawn Scarifier/Lawn Rakers Buying Information

Well known brands like Bosch, Black and Decker and VonHaus are safe bets. They are competitively priced have a quality build and spare parts are readily available. In fact, these manufacturers all have lawn scarifiers in the Best Seller List. 

Best Scarifier for Small Lawns

If you have a small lawn and don’t want to house another machine, the Wolf Garten Hand Rolling Moss Remover is a surprisingly efficient tool. In fact, in our test, it removed as much as the electric lawn scarifiers, albeit with a little more effort! We have written an article on Scarifiers for Small Lawns HERE.

Lawn Scarifiers

The most popular scarifiers are electric, this is because the majority of domestic lawns are under 400 square metres (length x width) and are only scarified once a year, so does not really warrant buying an expensive petrol machine. I have seen some basic electric scarifiers churn through thick thatch on large domestic lawns, so they are more than man enough to do the job.

Lawn Rakers

Lawn scarifying with a lawn raker can be very effective on small lawns. Done regularly, lawn rakers will keep the lawn free from thatch. Angled prongs on springs are attached to rotating drums, which comb out the loose thatch. This action does not put too much strain on the machine. They are, however, designed to cope with moss and dead grass so avoid sticks and stones if you possibly can.

All machines come with a collection box, although useful, thatch is bulky stuff and will quickly fill the box. So, the larger the box the better, the capacity of the box is measured in litres.

Most electric scarifiers/lawn rakers come with a height adjustment facility. This enables the machine to go deeper into the grass to pull out more thatch. A Quick Tip, when you start to scarify, test the machine on a piece of the lawn first. Start the machine on the highest setting and lower the setting until it starts to pull the thatch out. You need to avoid the blades hitting the soil, as this puts unnecessary pressure on the machine, shortening its life.

The Motor

The most expensive part of these machines is the motor. If you have a medium-sized garden then you would be wise to get a more powerful motor around 1100 watts plus. Not because it will do a  better job, but because it will be able to withstand a longer running time when it is under load (raking the lawn). Smaller motors for example, under 850 watts are designed to work for short periods of time and for light use in small gardens.

The majority of machines use brushless motor technology. In simple terms, this means the motor has less friction and only uses the power it needs at the time. Old electric motors used to run full pelt all the time and could burn out after a few years of use. Electronic technology senses how much load is needed on brushless motors and delivers only the necessary power required, extending the life of the motor.

The Machine

Electric scarifiers and lawnrakers can be quite light in weight and have a few simple components. However, the work they do can be quite punishing and you may find yourself needing some spares after a few years of use. Most well-known brands keep a good stock of springs and blades, which are easy to change yourself if you need to.

You will often find 2 in 1 lawn scarifiers and aerating machines with interchangeable heads. These can be great machines but beware, the aerating drums have blades that make slits in the soil surface, these drums can take quite a pounding. If set too low or if the ground is particularly hard, a strain can be put on the machine if used for a long period of time or in dry weather, when the ground is particularly hard.

What does Scarifying a Lawn mean?

Scarifying is one of the most important aspects of lawn care. Scarification is the removal of thatch (Old decaying grass) and moss from between the grass blades which have settled on the soil level. The removal of this material is important because it allows the lawn to breathe. Damp, rotting material attracts bacteria around the base of the blades of grass and disease can soon start to spread across the turf. Once the blanket of bad stuff is removed, it allows easy access for nutrients to penetrate the soil below and new grass shoots to grow.

The metal tines/blades on the drum of a scarifier spin round, pulling out the loose material from around the blades of grass. The lawn may look very bare once this has been removed but don’t worry the grass will soon spread and fill in the gaps. With any particularly bald areas, you can reseed.

To give an idea of the importance of scarifying. The three pictures above, are of the same lawn. The lawn was aerated in April and fertilised, then cut and watered for the rest of the summer. The midsummer lawn looks great but looks are deceiving. The last picture is of the lawn cut extra short and then scarified. You can see the huge volume of thatch and dead grass lurking beneath that is brought out by the scarifier on the left of the picture.

The pictures were taken this year (2020). The scarifying took place in the first week of September (this week). This year is a particularly good year for scarifying in Autumn because it is warm and humid and the lawn will recover quickly. I would expect this lawn to recover fully in 2 – 3 weeks.

Uneven Lawns can be a problem when scarifying as the machine spans a hollow and can’t get to the ground below, if this happens, use a metal tine rake to scratch out the missed areas.

Don’t be alarmed if you set to with your new scarifier and your lawn of once green appearance looks a brown balding mess with only a few blades of grass sticking up! It will recover, come back thicker than ever before and be a lot healthier for it!

When is the Best Time to Scarify my Lawn?

Scarifying in the Autumn.

A lot of debris and dead grass can build up throughout the summer, it can be useful to remove this from your lawn so that the turf does not spend the winter sitting in a stale damp environment.

Scarifying in the Spring.

The best time to scarify and renovate a lawn is in the spring. The main reason for this is the ability of the lawn to recover. The weather is warming up so the grass will be starting to grow and you will be thinking of applying a fertiliser, which after scarification, will make its way to the soil quickly where it is needed. Damp winters will provide a good environment for moss to grow. Killing the moss in the spring with Lawn Sand, then removing it with a scarifier will certainly give your lawn a great start.

Why Do I need to Aerate my Lawn?

Aeration is a process of allowing gases to escape from the soil below your lawn and enabling nice fresh air to flow around the base of the grass. Aerating the soil can be done in two ways.

  • Slitting: This process uses blades to make slits in the soil surface.
  • Spiking: This process uses spikes to make thin holes in the lawn.

Both methods are acceptable ways of aerating. Aerating shoes are a useful addition to your lawn care armoury as they can be worn even when you’re cutting the lawn

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