When to scarify your lawn to make the grass thicker, healthier and greener

And what to do if you missed the window of opportunity this season

A house with a green lawn
(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

Knowing when to scarify a lawn is crucial to the maintenance of your lawn. Just like any other plant and flower in your garden, your lawn requires regular care and maintenance and scarifying is one essential step you should not be skipping on.

If you’re new to the world of lawn care tips, then you might be wondering, ‘what is scarifying?’ It’s simple really. It’s just a process of removing dead thatch, which is the brown-coloured material underneath the green grass of your lawn. It’s done manually with something like a rake and it aids the grass in healthy growth and receiving all the water and nutrients, which could otherwise be blocked by the thatch.

And getting the timing of your scarifying right could make or break your lawn. That’s why we’ve turned to our gardening pros to give us the lowdown on when it’s best to do it and what to do if you’ve missed the scarifying season.

When to scarify lawn

A house with a green lawn

(Image credit: Future PLC/Adam Carter)

Just like knowing when to aerate your lawn, choosing the right time of year to scarify it is very important. And according to our experts, there are two seasons that you can or should scarify your lawn.

‘Scarifying, also known as dethatching, is best done during the growing season when the grass is actively growing and recovering and the recommended time to do it is typically in the spring or early fall,’ says Ionel Giuran, Fantastic Gardeners' lawn care expert.

Kevin Gess, owner of Prestige Lawns, continues, ‘This procedure facilitates the removal of thatch, or collected dead grass and debris, and improves the grass's ability to absorb nutrients and breathe. For the best healing and development, do it before the active growing seasons (spring to autumn).’

House with a green lawn

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

This means that if you’ve missed this autumn lawn care tip, which should be performed in early September, then you can just wait for springtime.

However, Steve Chilton, garden expert from LeisureBench, says that ideally, you should be scarifying your lawn in both autumn and spring.

‘You should really be scarifying a lawn in both spring and early autumn when the lawn is actively growing and can recover quickly. In the spring (around April time), you should be doing a light scarification. In autumn (around early September), you can scarify your lawn more heavily,’ he explains.

Steve Chilton portrait
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field. As the director of LeisureBench, an industry-leading garden furniture company, Steve has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. 

A house with a green lawn

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

When not to scarify a lawn

The reason why it’s not recommended to scarify your lawn at this time of year (that being November) is because the grass has entered its dormancy and won’t be able to quickly heal. 

‘In the spring, you can perform scarification after the first mowing and when the soil has warmed up enough to promote grass recovery, which will allow the lawn to recover and fill in any bare areas during the growing season,’ Ionel says. ‘In the fall, which is after the summer stress and before winter dormancy, it's also an excellent time for scarification, because it helps remove thatch, aerate the soil and allows for overseeding if it's necessary.’

But that’s long before the time you stop cutting your lawn before winter though.

But even during the recommended seasons, scarifying shouldn’t be done on days with any extreme weather conditions. ‘If there is any extreme weather (too hot, too cold, too dry, too wet, too windy, etc.), then don't scarify your lawn on that day,’ Steve warns.

FAQs

What month should I scarify my lawn?

‘Early spring or early autumn are the best times to scarify a lawn,’ Kevin says. April is the most recommended month during spring and early September is a go-to for autumn scarifying. 

Is it worth scarifying a lawn?

Generally speaking, yes, it is worth scarifying your lawn if you notice large quantities of dead thatch, which can prevent the grass roots from getting its necessary nutrients.

‘If some areas of your lawn are always in the shade, they may become thin during winter. However, they will usually become thicker in spring and remain healthy throughout summer. In this instance, I wouldn't scarify them in autumn,’ Steve advises.

So hold your horses, your rakes and scarifiers and wait till springtime to get scarifying.

Sara Hesikova
News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home and interiors. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors. She feels the two are intrinsically connected - if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.