Scarified Lawn Looks Terrible (Should You Be Worried)

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You shouldn’t be worried about your lawn looking bad after scarifying because the destruction is only temporary. Your lawn should recover within 4-6 weeks.

Scarifying your yard helps remove excess thatch and moss, improve drainage, and let nutrients get to the roots.

Your lawn maintenance regimen should include scarification, but make sure you pick the right time to do so.

Moreover, your lawn will take a couple of weeks to recover, so be patient and don’t stress about your grass’ temporary rough state.

Keep reading to learn more about lawn scarification.

Scarified Lawn Looks Terrible

Scarified Lawn Looks Terrible

You shouldn’t be worried about your lawn looking terrible after scarifying because the destruction is only temporary. Your lawn should be able to recover within 4-6 weeks.

The benefits of scarifying your lawn outweighs the temporary ugly look.

How To Revive A Lawn After Scarifying

Your lawn will take 4 to 6 weeks to recover after scarification. To help revive the grass, do the following:

1) Mow The Lawn

Mowing the lawn after scarifying eliminates any tufts, lifts out remaining loose thatch and moss, and levels out your grass.

2. Overseed

Sprinkle grass seeds into patchy areas in your lawn to boost grass density and speed thickening. Ensure the seeds used matches the grass in your yard.

3. Topdress

Add topsoil on the patchy and bare areas left from removing thatch and moss to level off the lawn.

4. Fertilize

You must fertilize your lawn periodically to grow and keep a lush, healthy lawn. Use a fertilizer with a higher concentration of phosphate and nitrogen.

Read more: Should You Fertilize New Sod?

5. Water the lawn

Open the sprinklers for about five minutes every day for the next 14 days to help your lawn recover.

When Should You Scarify A Lawn?

Spring and Autumn is the best time to scarify your lawn because there is heat in the soil during these seasons.

In addition, the grass is undergoing active growth during these periods, and this will allow it to recover before summer or winter fully.

It would be best to scarify your lawn during a dry day with a possibility of rain in the coming days since that will help your grass rejuvenate faster.

Avoid scarifying in summer and winter when the grass is typically dormant, and the weather conditions are unfavorable.

Also read: Pros and Cons of Dethatching Lawn

Grass doesn’t undergo active growth in winter, so scarifying during this season leads to damage your grass won’t recover from and even kill it.

Moreover, summer is a bad time because your grass will need the thatch to serve as a protective layer, so removing it makes your grass vulnerable to the summer heat. The bottom line is raking in summer will cause your grass to burn and turn yellow.

Before scarifying your lawn, ensure the following conditions are met:

  • There is decent thatch build-up in your lawn (over half an inch). Thatch is common in yards; it’s, in fact, beneficial, helping the grass keep its moisture during hot, dry days, so remove it only when there’s a significant build-up.
  • Scarify mature grass only, so don’t scarify new sod because it will damage the root system.
  • Wait for the weather to be warm or mild and the surface dry. Don’t scarify a damp or cold lawn.


  • When there’s active grass growth for quicker recovery- this is in spring and autumn.
  • You haven’t scarified your lawn in at least a year. You are advised to scarify your yard up to one time in three years and at most one time a year.

If you choose to scarify more frequently, ensure you don’t scarify aggressively.

When To Perform A Light Scarification?

 Light scarification is best done in spring since the height of spring offers warmer and wet weather. These conditions make it easier for your lawn to recover and grow before it gets dry and hot in summer.

You can use a hand scarifier, a springbok rake, or a powered scarifier together with a spring tine cartridge to perform light scarification.

This type of lawn scarification is gentler on your lawn, so the recovery time is faster than heavy scarification.

Performing light scarification in spring will help you control the build-up of thatch.

When To Perform A Heavy Scarification?

Wait till autumn to scarify your lawn heavily to remove heavy moss and thatch. You will need a powered machine that has a de-thatching cartridge or a hand scarifier for heavy scarification.

A powered machine fitted with a de-thatching cartridge has vertical blades equipped to into your lawn and remove dead material.

Heavy scarification thins out the grass drastically to the point that you could have more bare ground than grass.

This offers the perfect conditions to plant fresh grass seeds and, on the downside, provides the ideal conditions for the growth of weeds.

Fortunately, fewer weed seeds float around in autumn compared to spring, so it’s less likely that they will settle on the bare patches in your lawn and germinate.

This is why you should do heavy scarification in autumn and light scarification in spring to protect your lawn and get the best of the project.

Prepare Lawn To Be Scarified

Preparation is an essential part of lawn scarification, so don’t just wake up and decide to scarify your lawn without prior preparation.

You will need to get the following things done beforehand to ensure the scarification exercise goes smoothly.

 Get Rid Of Weeds

Manually uproot perennial weeds three weeks before scarifying your lawn. Don’t use weed killer because scarification will interfere with the process of killing weeds and result in seed germination if you plan to overseed after scarifying.

Read More: How Do You Stop Weeds From Growing On New Sod?

Scarifying your lawn without digging out weeds will cut out and distribute the perennial weeds throughout your yard, meaning you will have more weeds.

 Mow Your Lawn

Do not skip this lawn because scarifying tall grass could impair the performance of your scarifier, making the work more challenging and even less effective.

You will need to cut your grass shorter than you usually do, so use a sharp blade and even mow the lawn multiple times.

Remember that your lawn doesn’t need to be aesthetically appealing when mowing it for scarification. Therefore, you don’t need to strive to mow your yard perfectly.

Despite not aiming to achieve perfection, be gentle when mowing your lawn to avoid scalping your lawn.

Begin shortening your grass a week or two before scarification, as this will prevent shocking the grass while letting it dry much quicker.

You should also mow your lawn on the scarification day, preferably past midday when the dew has evaporated.

Cutting just before scarifying your lawn will keep the scarifier from pulling out numerous amounts of the grass blades.

 Rake Your Lawn

Rake your lawn before scarifying it to remove any fallen leaves and other debris. Make sure you rake when it is dry, and there’s no dew, preferably in the afternoon.

 Time For The Right Condition

You must have the perfect moisture conditions for scarifying your lawn if you want it to recover swiftly. If the ground is too hard or too soft, wait for it to improve, do something to change the conditions or abandon scarifying the yard altogether.

How To Scarify Your Lawn

With all the preparations done and the conditions perfect for scarification, it’s time to scarify your lawn. You can scarify your lawn manually with a springbok rake, use electric scarifier or lawnmower with a built-in cassette system.

Manually scarifying your lawn is more economical because the tools are readily available and cheaper, but it’s more labour-intensive and time-consuming.

A powered machine scarifies faster and is more efficient, but the tool will cost you more than a manual rake.

When scarifying your lawn, you only want your scarifier to go into the thatch and not into the soil to avoid damaging the equipment. Generally, how deep you go depends on your lawn.

Work through your lawn up and down, then across, aiming for tighter angles to go easier on your turf. For instance, a 90-degree angle will be harder on your yard than a 45-degree angle.

Immediately after finishing scarifying your lawn, you will need to clear out the thatch and other debris.

What Is The Difference Between Scarifying And Dethatching?

Scarifying involves digging holes into a lawn using machines or tools to remove thatch and other debris. It also helps promote grass growth, prevents thatch build-up, helps aerate the lawn and aid grass seed plantation.

On the other hand, de-thatching only removes thatch, and the process is simpler than scarifying. Moreover, it has a shorter recovery time, it can be done without damaging the grass, and helps prevent algae, mildew, and mold growth.

Should I Cut My Grass Before Scarifying?

You should mow your lawn before scarifying to avoid putting too much stress on the scarifier.



To wrap up.

Should you be worried if your Scarified Lawn Looks Terrible?

No, you shouldn’t be worried because it’s normal for a freshly scarified lawn to look terrible. The destruction is only temporary and your lawn should be able to recover within 4-6 weeks.

Endeavour to scarify your lawn before winter and summer come for healthy, beautiful grass. Despite destroying your yard temporarily, its benefits outweigh putting up with a scrawny-looking lawn for a few weeks.

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