Lawn scarifiers (also commonly used in conjunction with grass aerators) are essential in the upkeep of a healthy lawn. In this article, we review 5 of the best electric and manual lawn scarifiers in the UK.
A scarifier acts like a lawnmower but instead of cutting horizontally, the blades will comb vertically, cutting through any build-up of thatch that may be preventing access to sunlight and air. Deeper incisions into the soil (and root of the lawn) promote the fresh growth of lawn shoots after the root has been pruned. This also allows rainwater and oxygen to be absorbed into the root easier.
Regular use of a scarifier has been proven to remove old thatch, mulch and moss – keeping your lawn looking a luscious shade of green throughout the year. Though it is recommended that you only begin scarifying your lawn once it’s at least a couple of years old.
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Below, we compare the power, features, weight and cost of various models to bring you our favourite pick and value option.
Cost: Price not available
When you’re looking for the best aerator for your garden, there are a number of things you’re generally looking for.
First is the performance – does the unit have the capabilities to really work through the thatch and dig in to root layer of your lawn? Second – does the unit collect waste and if so, how much? You don’t want to spend all your time collecting leftover moss and thatch. Nor do you want to spend all your time emptying the collection box. And thirdly – is the unit easy to assemble, collapse and store at home?
We’re very pleased to report that the Bosch AVR 1100 meets all of our requirements and then some! This is a powerful electric scarifier that comes with a long extension cable to plug-in to the mains. The sturdy vertical steel blades really dig deep into the soil which is a real time and effort saver (if you’ve ever had to carry out this work manually in the past you’ll know what we mean).
If you already have a cluttered shed or outhouse then this unit won’t be a problem for you. It folds away neatly into a compact rectangular shape that is perfect for storage. At just under 10kg, it’s also incredibly light, which was a pleasant surprise given how hard it works the lawn. This makes it easy to push through even the thickest thatch, while being easy to put away once you’ve finished work.
All in all, this is a fantastic lawn cutter and well worth the extra investment if you tend to your lawn on a regular basis.
- As with many Bosch products, this represents the best-in-class and is easily the best pick if you’re prepared to pay a little extra.
- A 50 litres, the collection box leaves plenty of room for waste thatch and moss – meaning it doesn’t need emptying every two minutes.
- The Bosch unit uses what is calls an innovative ‘Jet Collection System’. This basically ‘hoovers’ the plant debris and moss from the surface of your lawn. Combined with the deep cutting vertical steel blades which aerate the soil beneath, this really is an effective solution.
- After a few weeks and with the right treatment, the results look incredible.
- There are 4 ‘height of cut’ settings, making the product suitable for any kind of lawn.
- A little more expensive than other similar units.
- Not ideal for those looking for a cordless experience. You should check out some petrol models if this is important to you.
The Black + Decker 600W lawn raker is a great option if you’re looking to scarify your lawn, but probably not a unit you should look to buy if you also want to aerate the undersoil and lawn shoots.
It’s probably one of the more basic units available, which is not always a bad thing, depending on your requirements. At 7kg, it’s the lightest amongst the range of models we’ve reviewed, with a paltry 600W motor that’s amongst the least powerful. For this reason, this unit is probably only suited to gardens on the smaller side, but offers a level of speed and flexibility that you may not get with some of the heavier units.
Again the capacity of the cuttings box (at 30 litres) and the number of adjustable cutting heights (three) is demonstrably less than other units in this review, but should still be more than enough for the average homeowner.
While this is definitely not as effective as some of the heavier more industrial models, it’s great if you’re looking for a low-cost solution for a small outdoor area. It certainly beats doing it manually! But, if you’re looking for a unit that’s going to scarify and aerate your lawn simultaneously, look elsewhere.
- A lightweight and low-cost lawn rake that’s very much suited to small and small-medium garden lawns.
- The unit is only small and has fold-down handles, making storage at home easy.
- A low-cost unit, ideal if you’re not looking to spend a big amount on lawn care.
- The insubstantial 600W motor will only handle smaller jobs on lawns that have been freshly cut to a very low height. If you need something to tackle big jobs, this probably isn’t your best-pick.
- Does not aerate the lawn, meaning you’ll need to buy a separate unit or look to do this manually with a pitch fork.
The VonHaus 1500W 2 In 1 unit is an adaptation of their 1300W lawn raker, so-called because the drum has two tools that work in conjunction to regenerate your lawn. The unit has interchangeable scarifying and aerating rollers, so that you can successfully cut through and remove large swathes of moss and dead grass, before going back over and aerating the soil underneath.
The unit is electric and comes with a large 10m long extension cord to plug into the mains. At 9.9kg it is very lightweight and easy to manoeuvre around your garden.
Unfortunately the collection box capacity is just 28 litres, which is almost half that of other models. So you’ll need to bear in mind that this will mean regular trips to empty the waste from your lawn.
It also lacks the cutting power and efficiency of some of the more established models, so you might need to work a little harder with this unit to achieve the same results. That being said, for the price you’re getting a dependable unit that will do a solid job at scarifying your lawn and aerating the undersoil.
- There are four working depths as settings for unit, perfect if you have a big job on your hands or if you’d rather not spoil the current look of your lawn.
- It’s easy to assemble upon receipt, easy to start (the unit has a two-stage electric safety trigger) and small enough to store easily at home.
- If you’re looking to scarify and aerate your lawn separately at differing intervals, this is probably the right choice for you.
- Though it looks a little cheap, the unit has a sturdy metal frame and solid plastic outer-casing, so it’s guaranteed to last many years to come.
- Comes with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty as standard.
- Unlike other units, this won’t scarify and aerate your lawn simultaneously. You’ll need to hand-change the rollers and run back over the same ground to achieve similar results.
- The unit does have a grass collection box, but this is comparatively smaller than other models.
Cost: Price not available
The Flymo Compact 750W lawn rake is a light-duty scarifier, suitable for garden lawns that require a gentler touch. The tynes are typically thinner than the steel blades you get with models such as the Bosch AVR 1100; as such they’ll need replacing more frequently, but there’ll be less visible ‘disruption’ to your lawn in the short-term.
The collection box is probably the best thing about this model, and the thing that stands out when comparing it with other options. Because it’s made from sturdier materials, the moss and thatch is really well compacted into the collection box, which is easy to remove on emptying. At 12 metres, the cable length is also a little longer than the 10 metres which seems to be the industry standard – ideal if you’re not wanting to purchase an additional extension cord for larger gardens.
While it’s easy to put together, at 12.6kg it is slightly heavier than other scarifiers available, meaning it might need a little more ‘huff and puff’ to move it across your lawn.
Generally, we probably wouldn’t recommend this model given our preference for sturdier steel models (at similar pricing levels) that will really get deeper into the thatch.
- Collection box is durable and highly efficient – allowing for compact storage of thatch, weeds & moss.
- Decent cable length for larger areas.
- Will leave your lawn looking great – even in the short-term.
- Blades need replacing regularly, usually at a significant cost.
- Light-duty unit that probably isn’t well-suited to big jobs.
- Quite a heavy frame compared with other similar units available.
The Einhell electric scarifier is probably one of our least preferred models, but that’s not to say it doesn’t pack a punch.
With a 1200W motor and powerful high-grade steel blades, you certainly won’t struggle to remove stubborn weeds and thatch. The convenient switching rollers between scarifier and aerator also makes lawn care incredibly easy.
The problem with this unit is that nothing really stands out. It doesn’t have any exceptional qualities or performance stats that would justify spending nearly as much as other similar models. In fact it has less working depth settings, is the same weight and has a lower cuttings box capacity than other models such as the VonHaus.
For this reason we wouldn’t argue that this is a bad choice (we’d even describe the unit as being very effective) but it just doesn’t do enough when pitted against the other options on the table.
- Detachable rollers for aerating & scarifying separately.
- Unit has a powerful motor, helping it glide across your lawn with little effort.
- Suitable for use on larger lawns and outdoor spaces.
- Low capacity for storage of grass trimmings and moss.
- There are better options available at a similar price-point.
What is a Scarifier & What Does it Do?
A scarifier is a garden tool used to cut-through the thick build-up of thatch that often develops on garden lawns. This is usually made up of dead grass, weeds, moss and other unwanted organic matter that prohibits that healthy growth of your lawn.
By cutting through this thatch and removing leftover organic matter, scarifiers allow access to sunlight and oxygen which is vital for the healthy growth of grass. Lawns which regularly undergo this process look greener, healthier and have fewer issues with weeds and other pests.
What Is an Aerator & What Does It Do?
Similar to a scarifier, an aerator is a garden tool that uses spikes to create holes in the soil. This allows both oxygen and water to reach the soil – two essential components for the growth of healthy, luscious grass.
The aeration process will often sever the roots of the grass, which rather than damaging the lawn, actually prompts the roots to multiply. This has the effect of thickening your lawn and helping it look healthier. Lawn care experts will also tend to use fertiliser on a freshly aerated lawn – and the holes which have been created allow for the easy passage of this fertiliser into the soil.
What Are the Different Types?
Generally, there are manual and electric tools available. Whilst every tool is different, the main options available to garden-owners are:
- Electric Scarifiers: also commonly referred to as ‘lawn rakers’, these are the most commonly used tools for scarification. They tend to look a lot like lawn mowers, with the rolling attachment often the only distinguishable feature.
- Lawn Aerators: these tend to be manual tools that are covered in spikes. Often they come with a push along handle, or there are even spikes that can be attached to the sole of your feet so that you naturally aerate your lawn whilst walking across it.
- 2 In 1 Scarifiers & Aerators: many tools nowadays will feature both scarifying & aerating attachments that can be used on the same hand-held mower. There are even a few models that combine the two and achieve both desired effects at the same time. See our number one ‘best pick’ in this guide for an example of such a product.
Whichever products you pick, choosing to scarify your lawn will put you amongst the more devoted sub-section of garden owners in the UK – with many neglecting to even mow their lawn regularly.
How to Scarify a Lawn
This is actually a very simple process and something that should generally be done no more than twice a year. The best times of year are usually late-spring (April/May-time) and the beginning of autumn (September-time). Assuming that you’ve already bought an electric scarifier, we usually follow this simple process:
- Firstly, mow your lawn with a traditional garden mower. You should aim to cut the grass to as short a length as possible, preferably on a warm, dry day.
- Apply a moss and/or weed killer to your garden a few days in advance. This should help to dry out the thatch and prevent the spread of moss spores when you get started.
- Most electric scarifiers will have multiple depth settings. It’s important not to go too hard on the grass from the outset, instead gradually increasing the depth as you go. We recommend first moving up and down your lawn with the scarifier, ensuring that you are on the lowest depth setting.
- Then, change your angle of attack so that you are moving over the lawn in a completely different direction. At this point you can look to increase the depth setting, gradually teasing out more and more of the thatch and dead moss.
- Generally two runs over your lawn should suffice, but if the thatch is particularly thick you can also repeat once more at a 45 degree angle. You should be able to make a decision whilst undertaking this process of how deep you need to go in order to remove the majority of any unwanted organic matter.
- It’s not unusual for your lawn to look barren after scarifying, and you should bear this in mind if you start to become worried by its appearance. Remember that this process is being done to help your lawn to re-grow thicker and greener than ever!
- Finally, seed your lawn, paying particular attention to any areas that look particularly thin or uninspired. Use of a garden fertiliser product will help to promote fresh growth – and you may also wish to use a weed killer to prevent any recurrence of weeds or moss.
You should now look to aerate the lawn regularly, either with an electric aerator or by using a spiked roller or fork.
Provided you haven’t carried out this process too early in Spring or too late in autumn, your lawn should now have the perfect conditions under which to complete its transformation. Enjoy and let us know how you get on!
I'm an avid gardener and home DIY enthusiast from Yorkshire in the North of England. I'm passionate about helping our readers get out into their gardens - by making the most of the outdoors and ensuring they get the best possible deals on their gardening equipment. I also believe strongly in the preservation of our beautiful garden wildlife.