A healthy lawn completes your garden. There’s nothing like the feeling of plush grass underfoot – but to attain and maintain the sensorial pleasure a picture-perfect carpet of green provides takes a bit of time and the tools of the trade.
So read on, lawn-lovers. We’re going to venture into the world of the scarifier – a simple, environmentally friendly device that helps grass thrive.
How does lawn scarification work?
Put non-scientifically, the best lawn scarifiers effectively cut through soil while removing grass clippings, dead moss and other debris. Free of such detritus – often referred to as “thatch” – soil can more easily breathe, absorbing oxygen, water and nutrients.
The growth of fresh, resilient grass is encouraged, filling in patchy, brown areas and crowding out weeds.
Tempted? With spring around the corner, you should be!
There are plenty of products to choose from, but don’t worry – our lawn scarifier buying guide will help you select the best scarifier for your needs.
1. VonHaus 2 in 1 Lawn Scarifier and Aerator
With a 1500-watt electric motor, the VonHaus 2 in 1 Lawn Scarifier and Aerator is an ideal all-round choice for most domestic lawns of small and medium size.
A dual-purpose drum utilizes two interchangeable rollers – one for aeration, one for scarification.
Swapping them using the provided Allen key (opting for a commonly available tool was a thoughtful move on the part of VonHaus) can take a bit of practice, but the bolt-mounted system ensures a stable fit. A soft, 28-litre collection bag makes it easy to view debris.
Like the Black+Decker Lawn Raker, the VonHaus 2 in 1 features a 10-metre lead, allowing coverage of most gardens without a messy extension cord. And the 2-stage starting switch – while a touch slow in operation – provides an extra measure of safety.
Despite the inclusion of metal in its construction, VonHaus’s offering weighs only 9.9 kg—a tad heavier than some scarifiers, but still manageable for most.
Though the VonHaus 2 in 1’s motor is powerful, certain units may be failure-prone, and some users report confusing assembly instructions and weak components.
Nevertheless, the VonHaus scarifier is largely well-reviewed, with praise given for its effective performance and high-power in a compact and relatively light package.
2. Bosch AVR 1100 Verti Cutter Lawn Raker
From Bosch – makers of reliable, high-quality, German-engineered tools – comes the AVR 100 Verti Cutter Lawn Raker. Driven by a powerful 1100-watt motor, the AVR 100’s fourteen steel blades quickly and effectively cut through thatch.
Stainless steel blades, which provide superior corrosion resistance, have a generous working width of 32cm. That means greater coverage in fewer passes.
Bosch’s unique, airflow-inlet augmented Jet-Collect System swiftly vacuums up soil-choking debris into a large, 50-litre collection box, making disposal quick and mess-free.
Four depth settings – +5, 0, -5 and -10mm – mean the Bosch AVR 100 can be used as both a scarifier and aerator.
Despite the powerful 1100-watt motor, this scarifier weighs only 9.9 kg, making it easy to push and maneuver. Well thought-out ergonomic and functional features – a comfortable handle and foldable, stackable design – make the AVR 1000 Verti Cutter a pleasure to use, and inconspicuous in storage, taking up only 40cm of vertical space.
And the cons are…
Its few drawbacks – namely the plastic construction (though that in part contributes to the light weight) and a tendency to damage uneven lawns (most scarifiers work optimally on level ground) – aside, the Bosch AVR 1000 Verti Cutter is a solid performer, and highly rated by a significant majority of users.
3. Einhell GE-SA 1335 P Petrol Scarifier/Aerator
If ever you wished for an occasion to bellow, “Release the beast!” before stepping into your garden (it’s okay, we won’t judge), read this, then purchase an Einhell GE-SA Petrol Scarifier/Aerator.
Versatile and air-cooled, this German-designed, fire engine-red scarifier is perfect for lawns in serious need of rejuvenation.
A 1-litre gas tank allows the Einhell GE-SA to run for extended lengths of time, making it suitable for scarifying lawns up to 1,000 m² in size.
Two stainless steel rollers – one for scarification; the other, aeration – allow the GE-SA to perform double-duty, not only thoroughly removing with its 26 individual blades stubborn thatch, but puncturing soil with 20 hardened spikes, allowing deep oxygenation.
Securely mounted on ball bearings, the steel rollers are easily changed and height-adjustable to three depth settings.
An adjustable, foldable handlebar can be set to match your height – the Einhell GE-SA is suitable for the tall and long-limbed – and large wheels easily traverse bumpy terrain whilst spreading weight and minimizing the risk of surface compaction.
Though not entirely without flaws, some users report engine cut-out, frequent collection bin emptying, excessive cutting depth and a weak starter handle. The Einhell GE-SA remains a worthy contender for scarifying large lawns.
4. BLACK+DECKER 600W 30cm Lawn Raker
Brought to you by Black+Decker, makers of ubiquitous, affordable, reliable tools, comes the unassumingly named 600W 30cm Lawn Raker.
Neither the largest nor most powerful scarifier in our buying guide, the Black+Decker Lawn Raker is nonetheless well-regarded for its great value and performance.
With a 600-watt motor, the Lawn Raker provides adequate power for most lawns – and the broad, 30cm working width covers a wide swath of grass in one pass, maximizing performance and minimizing user effort.
Like most other lawn scarifiers, the Black+Decker Lawn Raker is depth-adjustable – a feature easily controlled using a rear-mounted knob. Set it high to gently sweep up fallen leaves, or low to aggressively break apart thatch.
A removable 30-litre collection bag sits comfortably in the middle size range – neither so small as to be irritating, nor so large as to be cumbersome – and utilizes a see-through mesh design that allows fullness to be assessed at a glance.
Incorporating a feature found on many electric lawnmowers, the Black+Decker Lawn Raker has a built-in a safety switch that runs parallel to the handle.
Release the switch, and power to the motor is instantly cut. It’s great to have, not only for ease of use, but as an extra precaution in gardens where children and small animals play.
Thoughtful design is further evidenced by the incorporation of a 10m power cable, whose length and cable management system allows the Lawn Raker to traverse the span of an average-size garden without an awkward extension lead.
And with its foldable handles and light, 7 kg weight, Black+Decker’s scarifier is easy to store and use. Cons Some reports of flimsy collection bag attachment points, unstable depth adjustment and unclear assembly instructions slightly sully what are otherwise excellent reviews.
That said, the low price, great performance and overall user satisfaction put the Black+Decker Lawn Raker in a winning position for an affordable, high-value lawn scarifier.
How to Choose and Use a Lawn Scarifier
If you’ve read this far, chances are that you’re in the market for a lawn scarifier – and we’re thrilled. Lawn scarification is one of the simplest, most overlooked, yet effective methods of lawn care.
There are many scarifiers to choose from – some excellent, some poor, and some which, despite their flaws, perform adequately and deliver satisfactory results.
We’ve made some recommendations above, but if you haven’t decided yet, keep reading – our helpful tips will guide you in the right direction. Gas or Electric? Each has its advantages.
The latter is environmentally friendly, light in weight, has the potential for high power in a compact size, and is quiet – something your neighbours will appreciate.
However, electric scarifiers are best suited to small and medium-sized lawns, where they make short work of moss, dead leaves and other debris.
Use one on a large property, and be prepared to drag along a cumbersome extension cord. Opt for a petrol-powered scarifier if your lawn is big or in especially poor shape, electricity is unreliable, or if you scarify more than a couple of times a year.
Petrol scarifiers are louder, emit exhaust, and may require maintenance. It’s a tradeoff.
Bite, Cut and Claw Your Way to a Healthier Lawn Look for a scarifier with sharp, durable, stainless steel blades and teeth – they’ll far outlast plastic cutting components.
It’s also worth inquiring whether replacement parts are available. Remember, the better a scarifier cuts and bites, the worse off your lawn will look – but that is a temporary effect.
Give it a bit of time, sunshine and rain; the soil will absorb nutrients, oxygen and water, leaving grass full and healthy. How Low Can You Go;
How Wide is Your Stride?
Consider choosing a scarifier with an adjustable working depth. Shallow depths are ideal for removing moss and thatch without unduly damaging the soil beneath.
Deeper cuts are desirable for soil aeration and removing thick layers of debris.
Fortunately, most scarifiers are depth-adjustable. Scarifiers with broad cutting widths are largely favoured over smaller models – the greater the width, the less time is needed to scarify a lawn.
Just bear in mind that a wider machine usually weighs more, and sacrifices a degree of maneuverability.
Get a Grip Scarifiers are fantastic, labour-saving devices. But you still have to push and steer, avoiding obstacles and keeping the scarifier steady and pointed in the right direction.
Height-adjustable and ergonomically shaped handlebars reduce hand fatigue and save energy, especially when scarifying large lawns. Keep it on
The Level Scarifiers work best on flat, level ground. Small dips or inclines should not problematic, but if your lawn is riddled with holes or uneven patches, the performance of your scarifier will be affected.
Heavy-duty scarifiers with strong motors and a deep cutting action are best suited for such terrain.
Do I Really Need to Buy a Scarifier?
Grass is hardy and tenacious. Given adequate hydration, it will grow with little to no intervention.
But how well?
A happy lawn is a healthy lawn, and scarification is one of the simplest ways to achieve that – no water, hoses, sprinkler heads, weeding or nasty sprays required.
Lawn scarification and aeration treat grass at the root (pun intended), creating a healthy soil environment in which gorgeous grass can thrive. Still on the fence? Think about hopping down. Scarification is well worth the effort.
Unlike the often weekly ritual of lawn mowing, scarifying can be done as infrequently as twice a year, providing long-lasting benefits to even the most neglected lawn.
Try it once; you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.