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Home & garden.

9 June 2021

Lawn rakers and scarifiers: everything you need to know

Using a lawn raker or scarifier can help you remove thatch and keep your garden looking its best. Our expert guide has the details.
Rebecca Marcus
Lawn rakers and scarifiers

Keeping your lawn looking healthy doesn't have to be a hassle. Lawn rakers and scarifiers can effectively remove dead grass and moss, but which of these tools should you opt for?

For some, giving the grass a semi-regular cut is the limit of their lawn-care regime. But if you want your lawn to look healthy, it might be worth enlisting the help of a raker or a scarifier. 

Keep scrolling as we take a look at the differences between lawn rakers and scarifiers. We also look at how much time you'll save with an electric machine if you're still raking by hand.

Alternatively, head straight to our best lawn rakers and scarifiers

What are lawn rakers and scarifiers used for?

A lawn covered in dead grass clippings or suffering a build-up of moss can benefit from having a lawn raker or scarifier run across it.

Beneath the green blades of your grass there's a hidden layer of thatch, which is made up of grass clippings, flattened stems, shoots, moss and weeds. Thatch is a normal part of grass turf, but too much thatch will leave your lawn feeling soft and spongey. A soft lawn can feel nice to walk on, but these conditions impede drainage and prevent air from reaching the base of the grass. 

The best lawn rakers and scarifiers are able to effectively pull moss and thatch from the ground, which helps your lawn breath again. 

They can also cut the lateral shoots (stolons) of grass, encouraging these to root and create new grass plants, making your lawn thicker and more lush.

Scarifiers also cut into the soil, creating slices that help to aerate it and reduce compaction. 

Scarifiers give a cleaner cut to grass stolons than a raker, which tends to rip and tear them apart.

Need a lawn mower? Here's our round-up of the top five lawn mowers.

Raker vs scarifier: what's the difference?

Both of these machines look a bit like lawn mowers, but they function in a slightly different way.

Electric lawn rakers and scarifiers

Rather than making use of horizontal spinning blades, electric lawn rakes and scarifiers use cylindrical rollers. These bear tines or vertical blades that rotate down into the grass.

We've seen some models that come with both blades and rollers, which means you can choose between regular raking or a yearly scarification.

Lawn rakers

These feature a plastic cylinder lined with sprung metal tines, capable of combing the lawn, pulling out moss, thatch and horizontal grass stalks. You should use it every couple of months during the growing season.

Lawn scarifiers

Scarifiers have knife blades attached to their cylinders, making them well suited for removing moss and thatch. On the lowest setting, you can use a lawn scarifier to cut into the soil to help aerate it.

We suggest you use a lawn scarifier once a year, ideally in autumn or spring.

Raking by hand

If you're on a budget, you might consider raking your lawn by hand. Doing so saves you some money, but our tests have found that electric lawn rakers are far more effective.

When we pitted our electric lawn rakers against a manual rake, the electric version was quicker and easier to use. Not only is raking by hand strenuous work, but we've found that it's less effective in terms of removing moss. It takes far longer than a machine, too.

Still want to rake by hand? A wheelbarrow could help you transport the load. Jump over to our how to buy the best wheelbarrow guide