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Regular trimming is not enough if the lawn at home is to appear well cared for and grow healthily in a lush green. Scarifying is one of the maintenance measures that should be carried out every year. You will quickly get rid of weeds and felt-like compactions. You can find out everything you need to know about scarifying at Plantopedia, including scarifying instructions.


Scarifying is one of the most common maintenance measures for any lawn. Depending on the device you use for scarifying, this lawn care can be carried out with more or less effort. In any case, it is important to proceed precisely. For this reason, lawn experts have created step-by-step instructions for you and summarized everything you need to know about this lawn care.

lawn area


In the scarification It is a kind of "ventilation" of the lawn. The term comes from English and is made up of the two words "vertical" and "cut". Translated into German, this means "perpendicular" and "intersection". The term "verticulating" is also widely used. This means the scarification, but the word came about by accident and is wrong! This special lawn care method was invented by the American Thomas Mascaro in 1955. The first scarifier model can be seen in a museum in the USA.

The functional principle is based on scratching the lawn turf. The scarification is not to be confused with the aeration. This technique loosens the soil to aerate the lawn roots. Scarifying serves to aerate the lawn. In addition, felting is prevented or eliminated. Dead plant parts and some weeds such as moss can be removed with this method.


Various device versions are available for scarifying. All work on the same principle. A roller/roller is installed transversely in the device. On this there are offset pointed rakes. If the device is set in motion or put into operation, the axle-like roller begins to turn and the hooks reach vertically through the lawn a few millimeters deep to just below the surface of the earth.

As a rule, the scoring depth can be regulated by adjusting the height of the wheels. In some cases, the rake roller is adjustable in height. Tangles and weeds remain on the lawn with mechanical devices. Electric, motor-driven scarifiers eject the loosened grass to the rear. Depending on the device model, it is collected in a collection bag.

scarify the lawn

Petrol scarifier

Scarifiers that are equipped with a petrol engine are particularly suitable for angled and/or large lawns. Their advantage is that they can be put into operation independently of a socket. There is no cable in the way, no extension cords are necessary and there is no need to move the power cord. As a rule, they are more powerful than electric motors. This can be observed in particular on very dry soils, where they can easily grab into the hard soil, while with most other models one can no longer speak of scratching. Compared to other models, the disadvantage is the higher weight and the greater maintenance effort.

With a purchase price of between 250 and 500 euros, they are significantly higher than other operating modes.

electric motors

Scarifiers with an electric motor are lawn devices that are ideal for lawns of a few 100 square meters. In terms of weight, they are roughly similar to that of an electric lawn mower and are therefore noticeably lighter than those with a petrol engine. In terms of functionality, they are in no way inferior to them. Only on very hard floors do they usually show up with poor cutting results. Electric models are available for 100 euros.

TIP: For example, you can weigh down the scarifier with a bag of sand or cement. As a result, it reaches sufficiently deep into the earth even when the soil is dry.

hand scarifier

Simple hand tools for scarifying are the cheapest available. It is sufficient for smaller lawn areas, although scarifying requires strength and endurance. Bargain foxes get their money's worth with it, because with this device you save electricity and petrol. Furthermore, the handheld device is environmentally friendly. It is pushed by hand in the direction of travel on the guide bar. As a rule, they are comparatively very light and have small dimensions, similar to a fertilizer wagon. This means that these versions can be parked easily and in a space-saving manner, even in the smallest of spaces in summer houses or garages. With the purchase price you have to reckon with around 25 to 30 euros.

maintain lawn

rent device

Since a lawn scarifier should not be done as often as lawn cutting, you can save the purchase price and any maintenance costs and rent a scarifier. As a rule, these rental devices are offered in hardware stores. Occasionally they are also available for rent in specialist garden shops. In the long term, however, sooner or later the rental costs will exceed the purchase price. For this reason, hiring scarifiers is only recommended if, for example, you only have a lawn to look after for a short time due to your work and changing places of residence. Even if you attach more importance to wild growth and you only want to aerate the lawn every few years when the lawn threatens to die, a rental device could be worthwhile.

Best time

The best time to work the lawn with scarifiers is spring from around mid-April. Here the lawn slowly begins to grow and the high season, especially of moss, begins. In addition, however, you can scarify again at the end of August/beginning of September. Especially if the summer was sunny and humid, some weeds have certainly spread. In addition, sun and rain ensure rapid and dense growth. The danger of matting of the lawn is highest after the summer.

young lawn

Freshly sown lawns should not be scarified for the first two to three years. Here you run the risk of damaging the still sensitive turf and/or pulling out fresh grass because the roots are not yet firmly established.

weather conditions

You should not scarify a lawn in the rain or immediately after a heavy rain shower. Although the ground is then soft and the rakes of the scarifying rollers can easily reach in, there is a risk of damaging the turf. There should also be no dew, which makes scarifying in the early morning not recommended.

lush green lawn

Heavy petrol scarifiers in particular also leave unsightly tracks on a lawn that is too wet. The grass is pressed to the ground and it is difficult to achieve an even lawn finish without a missed spot. Tangles in particular are best removed more easily from dry grass. The weather conditions must not be too dry either, otherwise the rakes may not reach deep enough into the earth. In this case, light watering with a lawn sprinkler or garden hose the day before is advisable.

Instructions for scarifying

Proper scarifying is required for best results. The guide explains each step of how to do it.

  • cut the lawn to a height of two to four centimeters before scarifying
  • Adjust the height of the wheels or axle of the scarifier to a depth of about three centimeters
  • Push the device to the downhill position and start it if necessary
  • start at an outside end of the panel and work your way to the inside panels
  • the device is moved/pushed straight ahead in front of the body
  • with the following train, the journey is always in the opposite direction to the previous train
  • If the lawn is heavily matted, scarify it twice in a row
  • scarify across the already worked lawn area (pattern like a chessboard)
  • Sow bare ground areas with lawn seeds

pre and post treatment


It is advisable to fertilize the lawn about three to four weeks before scarifying. In this way, it is optimally supplied with nutrients and strengthened overall. The latter is advantageous because scarifying puts a strain on lawns. With a previous fertilization you prepare the lawn optimally so that it can then continue to grow vigorously. Fertilization is advisable, especially with very compacted grass and if the last scarifying was two or more years ago.

If you use a fertilizer with weed killer, a lot of the lawn will have dried up/dead by the time you scarify. The remaining parts of the plant can then be pulled directly out of the lawn.

water the lawn

lawn clippings

Theoretically, mowing the lawn shortly before the lawn is aerated is sufficient. In order to promote growth after scarifying, you can cut a second time around ten days after fertilizing and then after a waiting period of another two weeks before the scarifier is used.


After scarifying on dry ground, you should water the worked lawn area well. Make sure, however, that no standing water forms. Thanks to the newly acquired lawn ventilation and the scratched soil, water now penetrates the soil better. Once this has become sufficiently soaked, watering must be stopped to avoid overwatering.

Playing soccer on a green lawn

lawn protection

After you've scarified, give your lawn a rest for at least three weeks. He needs this time to regenerate. You should refrain from mowing the lawn or playing soccer during the rest period.

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