How Short To Cut Grass Before Scarifying + [Lawn Care Tips]

How Short To Cut Grass Before Scarifying

Scarification helps rejuvenate your dying, mossy, and patchy lawn to a lush green, dense, and healthy growing lawn. But sometimes, it’s confusing to know the right height to cut the grass before scarifying. But do not despair as there is a solution to your problem.

So, if you’re wondering how short to cut grass before scarifying, wonder no more.

The ideal height to cut your grass before scarifying is 2 centimeters or 0.8 inches. It’s always advisable to cut your grass before scarifying, but you can also do without cutting. The best time to scarify your lawn is between March and September when it’s neither too hot nor too wet.

This guide discusses everything you need to know about scarifying height and more.

Also check: Can I Mow After Overseeding My Lawn?

How Short To Cut Grass Before Scarifying

You should cut grass to a height of 2 centimeters before scarifying. That height is the lowest setting for most lawnmowers and the best for scarifying. Ideally, the size strikes a balance between avoiding ripping off the grass and getting all the thatch and organic matter out. Moreover, longer grass can encourage fungal gross and bugs, and shorter grass can cause irritation to the feet or have a patchy look.

Before you mow, ensure the grass is dry. Wet grass can stick to the blades and cause an uneven pull, resulting in uprooted healthy grass. Also, the soil should be moist and cool to touch but not wet. It’s good practice to remove any weeds as the scarifying machine is likely to spread them over your lawn. In addition, remove large stones and tree branches to avoid damage to the machines or injuries to you.

Scarifying should happen after you’re done cutting the grass to size. A hand rake could do scarification on a small lawn, but the work is back-breaking. The best option is to use an electric or gas-powered scarifying machine. Depending on how deep the thatch is, you can do several rounds of scarification to remove as much as possible. Once done, collect the thatch, overseed, fertilize, and irrigate your lawn to encourage fast rejuvenation.

Should I Cut Before Scarifying?

It’s not a must you cut before scarifying, but it’s highly advisable. If you consider your lawn short enough for your scarifying machine, then no need to cut. However, be prepared to have an enormous amount of thatch and debris. 

Cutting a lawn before scarifying reduces the amount of trash from scarification. Also, if you didn’t mow before, consider trimming after to minimize the leftover clippings from scarification. A word of caution, you should always scarify your lawn when the grass is actively growing.

What Month Should I Scarify My Lawn?

You should scarify your lawn in spring or autumn, between March and September. The time is ideal as there is not too much heat or rain, and your yard recovers faster. For optimal results, scarify when the day’s temperature range from 15 to 20 degrees centigrade. 

The rule of the thumb when deciding the optimal month and time for scarifying is expected in future events. For instance, if you want the lawn ready for heavy usage in summer, scarify it between March and late May. 

Otherwise, to prepare your lawn for winter, scarification should happen between mid-September to mid-October.

When deciding on a time to scarify, you should factor in the recovery period and if there is a need for intervention. If you scarify in May when it’s warm and dry, you’ll need irrigation and fertilizer to help your lawn recover quickly. 

But typically, the earlier you scarify, the better your property recovers before high temperatures in summer or freezing in winter.

Scarifying in spring usually is targeted at having a fantastic lawn in summer. If you mowed regularly in autumn, you can scarify directly without reducing the height of the grass. 

But if you realize your grass needs some growing before you scarify, you can start by fertilizing and then gradually mow to a standard height after a week. 

Wait for another week before doing the last mowing before scarification.

How Often Should You Scarify Your Lawn?

Generally speaking, you can scarify your lawn once annually or after several years. However, the longer you wait, the more work you’ll need to do as there is likely to be more thatch to clear. 

If you have a low-maintenance grass lawn, you can comfortably wait a year or two. To be safe, plan to scarify your yard when you realize the thatch and organic matter have started overpowering your lawn.

How Do I Revive My Lawn After Scarifying?

You need to do over-seeding and fertilizer application to revive your lawn after scarifying. Ideally, unless weather conditions are unfavorable, your lawn should recover well after scarification. But you can help it restore better and to your envisioned shape.

Overseeding helps top-up lawn sections with gaps and results in a tightly growing lawn with good coverage. Fertilizing serves to provide critical nutrients for a healthy lawn and quick recovery. 

A healthy, tightly growing lawn forms thatch at a slower rate and chocks any weed trying to grow among the grass.

Does Scarifying Remove Weeds?

Scarifying does not remove weeds directly but encourages a tightly growing lawn that keeps weeds suppressed. Technically, scarification shreds the weeds but doesn’t uproot them. When you scarify without removing weeds beforehand, you risk weeds being spread by the machine all over your lawn. 

To be safe, you should either eliminate weeds manually or use an appropriate herbicide before scarification. Once you scarify, overseed to ensure all areas rejuvenate well with thicker and healthier grass. 

That way, weeds have no room to grow or thrive.

Does Lawn Need To Be Dry To Scarify?

Yes, your lawn needs to be dry to scarify. If you had watered or had rainfall, wait for 1-2 days for the soil to dry to a moist level. Similarly, the grass should be dry before you scarify. 

Scarifying in dry conditions reduces damage to your yard and machinery and yields the best results. Also, it’s less tiring to scarify a dry lawn.

Do All Lawns Need Scarification?

Not all lawns need scarification. For a lawn to need scarification, there has to be a noticeable build-up of thatch. For instance, it can take several years for low-maintenance grass types like ryegrass to accumulate heavy thatch. 

However, you can scarify your lawn when you deem fit, depending on the look you want your property to have. Some people like the dark and unique appearance of a scarified ryegrass lawn and will scarify the moment a little thatch builds up.


Should I Mow The Lawn After Scarifying?

You should mow the lawn after scarifying to get the most out of scarification. Mowing the lawn after scarifying helps remove the leftover clipping that escaped the scarifying machine. It leaves the yard looking new and vibrant. 

However, it’s not a must to mow immediately after scarification as you had already cut before. A good practice is to mow the grass when it gets three inches long or after a week.

What Is The Difference Between Scarifying And Dethatching?

Scarifying is removing thatch and other organic material on the lawn, while dethatching involves only removing thatch. Scarifying goes deeper than dethatching and splits grass stems to encourage more growth. 

In terms of immediate damage, scarifying rips up the lawn a little harder than dethatching but results in better rejuvenation. To some extent, scarification improves airflow, water, and nutrients penetrations and creates spaces for new seeds to germinate.

How Do I Prepare My Lawn For Scarifying?

Preparing your lawn for scarification involves eliminating weeds and moss and gradually cutting the grass to an appropriate height of 2 centimeters. Killing the weed should happen three weeks to scarification. 

You can uproot the weeds if they are not many or apply an herbicide for large sections.

Around two weeks to time, start reducing the height of the grass a few centimeters after every few days until you achieve the ideal size. A week before scarification, apply moss killer and rake all the dead moss. Your lane should be ready for scarification.

Does Scarifying Aerate The Lawn?

Scarifying doesn’t aerate a lawn. It aims to remove thatch and trash and won’t disturb the soil much. A scarified lawn has better water and nutrients penetration but may still need aeration to improve soil aeration.

On the other hand, aeration involves penetrating the soil between 2.5-15 centimeters. It aims at breaking compacted soil to encourage better and healthier root growth. Also, nutrients, water, and oxygen can penetrate better into an aerated lawn. 

Aeration and scarification work together to promote healthier and well-spread grass.


Scarifying turns a lackluster lawn into a healthy green lawn. However, the key to achieving the best results lies in knowing how short to cut before scarifying. The ideal mowing height before scarifying is 2 centimeters.

At that height, the scarifying machine can get all the thatch, moss, and organic matter without too much damage to the live grass. Also, it’s easy to over-seed and apply fertilizer to a two cm-tall lawn. However, remember to remove the weeds together with their roots before you mow your lawn to scarification height.