A beautiful lawn will decorate any site. To get grass that looks like an emerald carpet, you need to make an effort and remember to follow certain tips. This is not only fertilizer and watering but also lawn scarification by verticutting. After it, the lawn will be updated and will look more spectacular.

What is Verticutting?

Young grass has thin shoots and small roots, air and water flow freely to them, which contributes to good growth. Over time, the top layer of the lawn becomes denser. Also, dust, small debris, and straw gradually accumulate on it. The lawn is overgrown with weeds and moss. All this prevents the grass from growing normally and slows down the flow of moisture and air. The vegetation loses its saturated shade and begins to hurt.

Verticutting tool

Verticutting as a scarification technique solves these problems. It is a thorough combing of the grass, which helps to remove debris and straw, as well as cutting through the soil, which provides access to water and air in sufficient quantities. Such care creates comfortable conditions for grass growth and strengthens the turf.

Lawn Verticutting vs Aeration

Verticutting with Verticutter

In addition to verticutting, there are other procedures that a gardener should be aware of. Aeration is recommended. It is a uniform piercing of the soil to provide air access. This can be done manually using conventional forks, or using an automated device. Machines with an electric or gasoline engine allow you to cope with the work on the site much faster.

Although verticutting and aeration have similarities, there are differences between these processing methods. The second option is sparing, since punctures do not violate the integrity of the root system. But scarification with vertical cutting through the soil and carefully combing the grass cover has a more noticeable effect.


For this reason, aeration can be carried out more often, it will not harm the lawn. However, during the dry season it is better to postpone this procedure.

Depending on the condition of the lawn, the age, and the type of vegetation, a schedule of ennobling activities is drawn up. verticutting can be done up to twice a year, while aeration can be performed after every third mowing. To make sure it’s time to pierce the sod, you first need to look at the length of the roots. If they are less than 5 cm, then they do not have enough air and moisture to grow, so it’s time to aerate the soil.

Timing and Frequency

Verticutting brings significant benefits, but for this, you need to regularly care for the lawn. If it was in a neglected state, a lot of straw accumulated, and the grass withered, after the procedure you will lose most of the vegetation. In such a situation, this is normal, do not worry – the lawn will be able to recover. However, for the rapid growth of grass, you need to choose the right time of year and weather conditions.

Three factors are considered the most important:

  • temperature;
  • moisture (rain);
  • Sun.
man Verticutting

You should not engage in gardening in extreme heat, drought, or cold weather. For a neglected site, it is often necessary to postpone verticutting until autumn – the reasons for this decision are explained below. If the lawn is well-groomed, then the procedure can be carried out in the spring. Light verticutting is usually done in April. This is the optimal time, as the soil is already starting to warm up, while still having enough moisture for rapid growth and recovery.

If the lawn is in a state of neglect, there is a lot of straw on the surface, there is a serious infestation with moss, or maybe the grass has been badly damaged by drought in the summer, efforts will be required to put everything in order. It is better to start this task in the fall. During verticutting, the gardener cuts the soil vertically and removes straw and moss, so the ground is left open. It becomes an excellent field for sowing new seeds, they will quickly begin to germinate.

But if this procedure is carried out in the spring, the presence of free space and open soil will also contribute to the aggressive growth of weeds, and autumn processing will help to avoid this problem.

You can schedule verticutting for the last days of August, provided that the climate allows and the weather is not too hot, or you can start this work in September. Also, this period is suitable for aeration. If necessary, airing the soil can be done after verticutting, but before sowing and laying fertilizers. All this work will allow you to restore the damaged lawn and not worry that it will be filled with dandelions or other weeds.

Regardless of the season, verticutting is best done in dry weather, in the afternoon. Wet moss and other debris can seriously clog your verticutting tools and even damage them. That is why it is better to choose a dry day and wait until noon when the morning moisture and dew have evaporated.

Verticutting Tools

Depending on the size of the plot, you can use machinery to process it or do it all by hand. This does not affect the effectiveness of the procedure, however, an electric machine saves time and effort. Some gardeners also use the technique in combination with hand tools. 

  • Lawnmower. Although not specifically used for scarification or verticutting, regular trimming of the grass will make the job much easier. You can purchase a model with a grass catcher, then the straw does not have to be raked manually after processing.
  • Moss herbicide. Such vegetation should be removed about a week before the planned verticutting. This can be done with the help of a herbicide, after treatment, the moss will turn black and dry, so getting rid of it will be much easier.
  • Herbicide for weeds. Not everyone has problems with moss, much more often gardeners are annoyed by weeds. There are herbicides aimed at combating it. In this case, the treatment of the site should be carried out three weeks before the planned verticutting.

Before buying, make sure that the product will affect the weeds and will not affect the lawn grass.

  • Scarifier or Verticutter. The tool can be hand-held, electrically powered, or gasoline powered. It is unlikely that it will be possible to replace it with some analogs. Models differ in characteristics of the two machines, so you should focus on the features of your lawn. For a small and even lawn, where there are no bumps and pits, a hand tool is suitable. If you have a medium area, you can buy an electric one, it is light and quiet, but it needs to be connected to the network to work.

Gasoline devices are able to cope with any area and terrain, but at the same time, they are the most expensive, heavy, and noisy. There are also 2-in-1 models that come with an additional aerator attachment. This function can be provided for electric and gasoline units.

  • Rake. They are needed for garbage collection after processing. However, if you have a lawn mower and a verticutter or scarifier with built-in grass catchers on your farm, manual cleaning is not required.
  • Seeds. After combing, the lawn will noticeably thin out, especially if you have removed a lot of thatch and moss. So that there are no bald spots, you need to sow some fresh seeds. Use the same type of grass that was original. Also, apply some fertilizer to help the vegetation recover faster.
  • Spreader. In a small area, you can manually sow seeds and distribute fertilizers, but if the area is large, the work takes a lot of time. In this case, you can purchase a special spreader that will speed up the process.

How to carry verticutting out?

Verticutting is quite a serious impact, so it is important to do everything right so as not to harm the lawn. You can cope with the task with your own hands, even if you are a novice gardener. The main thing is to follow the instructions and consistently move from one stage to another.


Before you get the verticutting tools, you need to do one more thing. Start preparing your lawn about 3 weeks before the verticutting process.

  • First, you need to destroy the weeds. For this, a herbicide is suitable.
  • Two weeks before the procedure, you need to gradually reduce the height of the grass. This method allows her to be less traumatized. Gradually change the mower settings until the vegetation reaches 5 centimeters in height.
  • A week before the main work, it’s time to get rid of the moss. This is where herbicide comes in handy. When the moss dries and turns black, it can be combed out with a rake.


Whether you’re working by hand or using a motorized verticutting tool, it pays to be careful. You may need 3-4 passes if there is a lot of straw. For less neglected lawns, two times will be enough. After each pass, you need to collect garbage. In the last step, use the blades to carefully cut through the soil at a depth of about 5 mm – this will prepare a place for replanting fresh seeds.

If you have a manual scarifier, using it is easy. It is better to start from the corner of the site and move along the far edge. By tilting the handle, you can adjust the position of the blades when removing straw or cutting through the soil. When working with an electric or gasoline scarifier, it is important to correctly set the height of the nozzle.

Make adjustments before you start, otherwise the device may tear out pieces of turf if the blades go too deep.

Lawn Recovery

After verticutting treatment, you need to ensure timely care of the lawn so that it looks better. First of all, sow fresh seeds, then the bald spots will quickly fill with new grass. A thick lawn is beautiful, in addition, so the weeds will not have the opportunity to ascend into the vacated space. In addition to overseeding, you need to fertilize the soil. Abundant amounts of moss or straw often result from a lack of nutrients. The key ones are:

  • nitrogen – responsible for the rapid increase in mass;
  • potassium – improves general condition, helps prevent disease and dehydration;
  • phosphorus – is necessary at the stage of seed growth, and also has a positive effect on the condition of the roots.

After fertilizing the soil, the new grass will quickly sprout and turn green. Such a measure significantly accelerates the process of vegetation restoration. Although at first glance the process of verticutting may seem complicated, in fact, it is not. It is enough to prepare the tools, follow the sequence of actions and regularly care for the lawn so that it pleases the eye.