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Advice on scarifying

Discussion in 'Lawns' started by Gabriel Syme, May 11, 2018.

  1. Gabriel Syme

    Gabriel Syme Gardener

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    Dear all,

    Our soil is clay and so, coupled with the Scottish weather, is often sodden with water.

    After a very wet autumn and winter, (even by our own standards), large patches of moss have appeared on the front lawn.

    The back lawn isn't nearly as bad with moss - probably because the front forms a basin, sloping down towards the house, whereas the back slopes down to the house behind us and so drains into there (!).

    A couple of weeks ago, I did the first cut of the year and then put down some evergreen lawn feed and moss killer. This was in advance of me intending to scarify to remove moss and thatch (the 3.5 yr old lawns have never been scarified).

    However, I've noticed that not all the front moss has turned black indicating its not all dead. I applied the evergreen using their own spreader at the recommended setting. There seems to be black lines running through the moss, indicating where the evergreen granules were landing.

    Questions:

    1) Should I progress to scarify, even though not all the moss is black? Ive read that scarifying live moss can just spread the problem about. (I thought about putting more evergreen down, but the instructions say only 1 application every 3 months.) Or would it be better to wait and scarify in autumn instead, allowing for a further application of the evergreen first?

    2) Ive heard warnings about scarifying on slopes. There are slopes on both our lawns. Should I just strafe left/right across the lawn, rather than go up/down the slopes?

    3) What would be appropriate machine setting for the first scarification of these lawns?

    Everyone says to be prepared to be shocked at the amount of rubbish that the scarifier will lift, equally I have heard warnings to "go easy" so as to avoid ripping up the entire lawns.

    Thanks for reading and for any advice.
     
  2. Verdun

    Verdun Passionate gardener

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    Hi Gabriel
    I would scarify on a high setting at this time of year and not worry too much about all the theories about it. No, I would not apply more Evergreen lawn weed and feed.
    For me, scarify...even on a high setting there will be lots of debris.....then overseed :)
    Any decent machine will do I think.....scarifiers are usually quite cheap.

    I'm a great believer in mowing regularly at least once a week...I mow twice weekly.....and on a medium to high setting. This does more for grass quality and appearance than most everythung else in my opinion:)
     
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    • Doghouse Riley

      Doghouse Riley Head Gardener

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      I agree, about the mowing. I actually mow on the lowest setting of my Flymo, probably every three days at the moment and our lawn is looking good here, earlier in the week. It would look even better if I hadn't been walking around on it a lot that day after cutting it. I don't do stripes I use the Flymo like a scythe.

      P1010385.JPG
       
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      • Verdun

        Verdun Passionate gardener

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        Looking great DHR..as always...but I like my stripes :)
         
      • Liz the pot

        Liz the pot Gardener

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        Weed and feeds with an fe content don’t normally have a high percentage of fe and even a full spread rate they will only handle moss if it’s a light build up.
        You either need a liquid iron or a full fe granular application to really get to grips with moss.

        If your lawn slopes exceed the machines limits then you can’t use the machine and will have to hand rake.
        Common mistakes are poor techniques when scarifying and poor machine designs which there are a fair few in the domestic market.

        If your slopes are too steep I would think about either applying MO Bacter or you have to spray with iron late and early season to deter the moss.
        It’s rare, almost never that I need to over seed unless the lawn is so abused it’s an impossible task and then it’s a case of dressing with a seed application.
        Don’t apply any more feed but you can apply a liquid based iron treatment to kill of the moss. Remember iron can alter the soil levels so it’s a case of controlled use but it’s good at greening up the turf and toughening the turf.

        The setting for a machine are dictated on what type of scarifier you have. Some use tines, fixed blades, free swinging blades or blades and tines.
        Only fixed blades with a machine built to handle will be able to cut in below the soil.
        Free swinging blades are set to just make surface content, these are good for areas where possible obstructions may be found.
        Tines are as above, designed to just touch the surface.
         
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          Last edited: May 12, 2018
        • Gabriel Syme

          Gabriel Syme Gardener

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          Thanks Verdun.

          Good on you - I took your advice and just got on with it. I think I had read & thought too much about it lol.

          We got a raker /scarifier (£90, down from £108!) and did it all this weekend in two days of lovely sun. Its one where you need to change its attachment, from tines to blades, to do different jobs. But it seems very powerful and effective.

          It seems to have been a great success, and what is left looks much better than I feared, even despite the vast quantities of stuff ripped out of it.

          Thanks for the tip about cutting frequency too - currently I only cut once a fortnight, so could try to step that up a bit.
           
        • Gabriel Syme

          Gabriel Syme Gardener

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          Thanks for a useful reply.

          So the evergreen is really just an inhibitor, rather than an eradicator?

          I will look into fe treatments for info, but having seen the results of this weekend I reckon 2 x raking/scarifying per year, plus evergreen treatments, should keep it nearly or fully moss-free.

          The slopes were not a problem, I just went side to side, and not up and down the slopes (the machine manual advises this too). One or two small places I dug up a bit by accident, but nothing to get excited about.

          I gave the lawns a full rake and then followed up with the fixed scarifying blades, so im keen to see how it will look in a few weeks.
           
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          • Liz the pot

            Liz the pot Gardener

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            It just depends on the amount of moss to how well the 4 in 1 works.
            Once you have it under control it will work fine but due to the low levels of Fe you need to apply it at full rates.
            Fe or iron hardens up the grass plant, it’s what it’s designed to do but the iron also kills and deters moss. It will not solve the moss problem but you can keep it under control.
            Once your lawn looks good and the weeds and moss are gone you can then move to a more suitable fertiliser that will not create soft growth flushes.
             

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