Despite most grasscutters now being fitted with a box to collect clippings, there is still a certain amount ends up on the lawn after each cut.
Regular mowing and this can build up significantly and, for a healthy and good-looking lawn, needs to be removed. This build-up of dead grass, called thatch, lies on the soil surface and affects proper drainage and prevents air getting to the roots, which in turn is detrimental to health, growth and appearance of the lawn. This build-up of organic matter allows the base of the grass to be constantly damp, providing ideal conditions for moss. After all, a lawn is often the centrepiece of the ornamental garden, its lush green complementing beds and borders and, if in the front of the house, adding to ‘kerb appeal’.
The solution is scarification, the term used for the removal of all this unwanted, harmful thatch. This need only be done once a year in late spring when the grass has begun to grow well and thicken up. There are various ways doing this: manually using a wire lawn rake, hiring a scarifier machine or calling in a professional lawn-care expert. Doing it with a lawn-rake is hard work if to be done properly. Using a scarifier is like mowing the grass, the machine looks similar, only there is a cylinder of knife blades in place of cutting blades. Any moss present will also be removed along the with dead grass. The debris can be used on the compost heap or in a compost maker bin, but only if dispersed and used with more ‘woody’ material.
Another job on the lawn at this time of year is hollow-tine aeration. This involves removing small cores of soil to allow nutrients, moisture and air, easier access to the root system and relieving compaction. Professionals have a special machine for the job. It can be done manually but it is hard work and time-consuming. There is a tool that can only be described as ‘half fork half spade’ and is pushed into the grass making holes. By the same method, a garden fork can be used. There is a devise which straps onto a pair of boots and the lawn is spiked when walked over, also a rolling lawn aerator comprising a cylinder of spikes, which is pushed up and down the grass.