I received this question many times from an eager reader in March 2018 about a scarifier. She writes:
I have a lawn approximately the size of a bowling green. It is not well looked after and has loads of moss.
Please could you advise me on a scarifier. I’d prefer something that you don’t have to push, and electric, unless you’d advise otherwise?
I’ve got someone who could help me who is a big strong chap, but I’m not!
And I prefer not to be completely dependent, but may need to be in this instance.
What do you think?
Thanks for the question Patsy.
You say that your lawn is not well looked after and is full of moss. The way to proceed to bring your lawn back depends on how neglected it is. Moss is always a result of poor growing conditions for grass. This could be one of many factors. Shade, poor drainage and bad mowing are some of the most common reasons for moss ingress. Try to find out why the moss has infested your lawn and remedy those issues. You will then have a greater chance of keeping your lawn looking good once it is green again.
Before proceeding, I recommend applying a moss control treatment to blacken the moss. Not only does this make moss a lot easier to remove, but also reduces it from spreading while scarifying. Moss spreads through releasing spores. Tackling the moss whilst it is in growth can make the problem much worse in a few months. You can buy moss control (Soluble iron or Fe) from garden centres and online. Only after application do I recommend scarifying.
Neglected, mossy lawns can be VERY difficult to scarify. This does of course depend on the lawn, but they are rarely trivial. A thick, thatch-covered lawn can produce up to a bin bag per square meter of material. For a larger lawn this can add up to an enormous amount. Customers are always amazed at the sheer volume of material cleaned from a lawn. If you are not confident that you are able to take on such a task, don’t. Call in for professional help.
I cannot recommend any electric scarifier I’m afraid. They are not powerful enough to do the job. I feel that they are mis-branded and should be called lawn rakes. A professional scarifier has metal blades and a powerful engine. Using a petrol-powered machine will make the job much easier and produce a much better result. An electric wire scarifier will rip the grass to pieces. Buying a good quality petrol scarifier will set you back at least £600. You can hire a professional machine from your local hire shop. Search the internet for scarifier hire near me.
Powered scarifiers do exist, but again the cost of these goes up even more. These are usually towed by small tractors or added as a cassette for a powered lawn mower. Have a talk with your local mower supply shop for advice.
If any of this does seem daunting then I recommend calling for professional advice. Contact your local independent lawn care expert. They will be able to assess your lawn and carry out any necessary treatments without fuss. They may seem expensive, but if you factor in the costs of equipment and your time, it is excellent value.
Thanks for getting in touch and I hope you are able to sort out your lawn.