Are you in the market for a lawn scarifier? With so many factors to consider, picking the right one can be a bit daunting. We have put together this guide to help you understand the different types of lawn scarifiers and the factors to consider in order to make a good purchasing decision.
What is Lawn Scarifying?
First things first, lawn scarifying is an important lawn care activity that involves removing dead moss, grass clippings, and debris from the lawn. A scarifier takes the work out of keeping your lawn clean, aerated and healthy.
When vegetation such as moss, dead grass, and decaying leaves sit on the lawn, they can block water, sunlight and feed from reaching the soil and roots underneath. Instead, the water and nutrients will sit on top of the lawn, resulting in a soggy and unwelcoming yard.
The best time to use a lawn scarifier is in autumn to collect the fallen leaves, flowers, and grass clippings.
Lawn Scarifier vs Lawn Raker
If you are new to gardening, you might be unable to tell the difference between a lawn scarifier and a raker because they work and look almost alike. Both remove moss, grass clippings and other debris from the lawn but there are some differences between the two lawn care machines.
One difference between a raker and scarifier is that the raker features metal tines, which it uses to remove moss and unwanted vegetation on the surface of the lawn. On the other hand, a scarifier has blades that not only remove dead grass clippings, moss and other vegetation but also dig into the soil, which helps with aeration.
Lawn Scarifier vs Verticutter
Many people also confuse a verticutter with a lawn scarifier. The verticutter is slightly different in that its blades are arranged vertically and instead of digging deep into the soil as a scarifier does, a verticutter only slightly touches the surface but will still collect debris off the lawn.
A verticutter has more blades and these are spaced close together to cut the stolons or horizontal grass stems, leaving the lawn with a smooth finish. A verticutter is also ideal for cutting weeds and promoting fine grass growth. Also, while scarifying is best done in autumn, you can use a verticutter any time of the year
All in all, verticutting is a much milder form of scarifying and minimizes the possibility of damaging the existing grass. However, both do help with removing debris and aerating the soil.
Type of Lawn Scarifiers
There are four types of lawn scarifiers. These include:
1. Hand scarifiers
Hand scarifiers look like the regular garden rake. Some come with wheels so you can push the machine over the lawn. Those that do not have wheels are pulled like the normal rake to remove debris from the lawn. This basic scarifier does not have a cylinder for collecting debris so you will have to pick up the thatch by hand. Due to their manual operation, hand scarifiers are only best for use in smaller lawns.
2. Electric scarifiers
Electricity-powered scarifiers are more advanced machines, which can cut into the soil as well as lightly turn over the lawn and collect surface thatch.
This type of scarifier is ideal for medium-sized lawns, is quite low maintenance and only requires you to clean the cutting blades. They are also quieter than their petrol-fuelled counterparts are.
3. Petrol scarifiers
Petrol scarifiers are designed to work on larger lawns. Those with a powerful engine last longer and require fewer passes to dethatch and aerate the lawn. However, petrol scarifiers tend to require more maintenance to keep the machine in tip-top condition.
4. Tined and bladed scarifiers
Other than the mode of operation, scarifiers can also be categorized by the cutting method. Some come with blades while others have tines. Those with blades are designed to dig into the soil, cut moss and debris, and collect it all in a cylindrical collection box.
Instead of blades, some scarifiers have tines that resemble a rake. They also typically come with a small electric motor. Unlike the bladed ones, scarifiers with tines do not cut into the soil but only remove dead vegetation that is on the surface of your lawn. Tined scarifiers are usually suited to small and medium-sized lawns.
Bladed scarifiers have a larger motor and are therefore more powerful. Others are petrol-powered and are a good option for aerating, weeding, and scarifying larger lawns.
As a general rule, the more the blades or tines a scarifier has, the better. A standard scarifier will come with 14 to 20 blades while the tined type will have up to 24 to 48 tines. You should also check the material that the tines and blades are made from as this affects the cutting capacity of the scarifier. The best materials are tempered steel, stainless steel and aluminium.
Tips For Choosing The Right Scarifier
A lot goes into choosing the right scarifier to meet your lawn care needs. Some important factors to keep in mind as you shop around are:
The biggest consideration when purchasing a scarifier is your lawn size. You want to save time and energy when caring for your lawn. If you have a large yard, for example, using a hand scarifier might not be the best use of your time and resources.
If you have a smaller subdivision lawn and all the time in your hands, a simple hand scarifier will get the work done. This type of scarifier does not have a collection cylinder so you will have to manually pick up the thatch and other debris. Keep in mind that using a manual tool means more time spent caring for your lawn.
An electric scarifier with blades and a collection box will be ideal for large lawns so you can get more work done faster. You will, however, need a nearby power source. Alternatively, for a relatively large lawn, you can opt for a petrol fuel scarifier but be ready to maintain the machine regularly to prolong its life span.
Scarifying is effective if the machine cuts into the correct depth—not too deep and not too shallow. For the best results, the scarifier blade should not dig deeper than 5 cm. Opt for a scarifier with adjustable depth settings to ensure that you meet your specific lawn care needs.
Cutting width refers to the coverage of the scarifier as you move it across the lawn. A machine with a small cutting width can only work on small sections of the lawn at a time and this might not be efficient if you have a large lawn. We recommend choosing a scarifier with a wider cutting width to cover a larger area, allowing you to work faster and make fewer passes.
Last but certainly not least, you should check that the scarifier is comfortable to use. A good one will have ergonomic handles that will not strain your hands. The handles should also be adjustable to suit your height and level of comfort. Other factors we recommend that you keep in mind are the weight of the machine, noise level, and capacity of the collection box.
Some scarifiers, especially the electrical ones can be particularly heavy due to the motor. These will require more elbow grease to operate but you can look around for a lighter machine to match your comfort level.
Petrol-based scarifiers tend to be quite noisy but are a good choice for covering larger lawns. If noise is a concern, you might opt for the quieter electrical scarifiers but you will need a power outlet for this type.
Finally, opt for a scarifier with a larger collection box for more efficiency. A large box will collect more thatch and reduce the number of times you need to empty the box.
Scarifying your lawn offers many benefits including aeration and turning the lawn to expose it sunlight, water, and nutrients. Whether you are buying or renting, think carefully about your lawn size, ease of use, and mode of operation. You want to choose a scarifier that will get the most work done as efficiently as possible while still maintaining the soil’s integrity.
Do you have any questions or comments about lawn scarifiers? Leave them below—we’d be happy to hear from you.