Scarifying is very important for lawn care. The hand scarifier offers a cheap alternative to the electric scarifier – theoretically, because its use is not recommended in every case, and its use requires a specific procedure in order to achieve a uniform result. Below you can read about its advantages and disadvantages and how to use it correctly.

Definition: Hand vertical

A hand scarifier is a mechanical device that, as the name suggests, is operated/moved by hand. Depending on the version, it consists of a handle or handle and several steel knives lined up on a “roller” or cylinder. As you move, the roller with the knives rotates eccentrically. Through this mechanism they get between the grasses and “ratchet” the earth’s surface. There, depending on the pressure exerted, they leave indentations in the ground without damaging the turf if the scarifying is done correctly.

Do not confuse

The scarifier is much better known than a lawn aerator, but when it comes to mechanical devices, confusion can quickly arise. Both feature the rotating reel. With the hand scarifier, the blades are wide/thick and rigid so that they can be pressed into the ground. A lawn scarifier is equipped with narrow spring steel tines. With these he only reaches between the blades of grass and removes slight compaction there. Moss cannot usually be removed with a lawn aerator.

areas of application

A certain amount of care is required for a healthy and well-groomed lawn, in which ideally little or no weeds can grow. This includes scarifying to achieve the following results:

  • Remove moss and thatch from the lawn
  • aerate the lawn
  • Crush/crumb up clods of earth
  • Perforate the surface of the soil to allow water and fertilizer to seep in better


As an alternative to the electric scarifier, the manual hand-held device is only suitable for smaller lawn areas. Although the eccentric movement mechanism of the knives reduces the effort required, it is not without effort. In addition, the device cannot usually be used evenly on larger areas, which can lead to optical irregularities. In addition, unkempt lawns with extensive carpets of moss are difficult or impossible to work on. The hand scarifier is well suited for routine care in spring or autumn and on smaller lawns that are in a normal condition and is also the cheaper solution.

Use hand scarifier correctly

When using a hand scarifier, the procedure is basically the same as with a motorized device. It works like this:

  • Select a corner point on the lawn
  • Start there with the first longitudinal track
  • Turn around at the end of the track and walk along the first edge of the track again in the direction of the starting line
  • Drive up and down until the area is completely thatched
  • Then work across the entire surface again in the same way


  • Always guide the scarifier a few centimeters over the area last processed (overlap)
  • Always apply even pressure to the scarifier (for an even result)
  • Adapt the pressure to the condition of the lawn: moss and felt only come loose with more pressure (knives go deeper)
  • Blades should not go too deep into the soil as if plowing it up or damage to the turf
  • Scarify only on dry ground (to protect the turf)
  • In between cuttings, remove lawn and/or moss residue so that the knife can be used sharply
  • Be sure to remove the scarified material after work so that the lawn can “breathe”.
Tip: In order to achieve the best possible result, all lanes should be taken one after the other without a significant break. This increases the chance that the feeling for the pressure and the speed will remain and that an even application ensures an equally even result.

Hand scarifier: advantages and disadvantages

While many garden owners consider the motorized/electric scarifier to be the better option, it can still prove to be the more ideal choice due to a number of advantages. Hobby gardeners should not ignore these and make their purchase decision after weighing the following advantages and disadvantages, especially in comparison with motorized/electric scarifiers:


  • Favorable purchase price
  • More careful work possible
  • Needs-based increase or decrease in pressure
  • Finer controllability of the pressure
  • Less healthy lawns are “ripped out” and therefore fewer bare spots
  • Consequently less labor, cost and time for overseeding and/or fertilizing
  • More optimal processing of border sections
  • Less to no damage when driving over roots or stone path surfaces
  • Better, stronger lawn growth in the long term
  • Hand scarifier saves energy and is environmentally friendly
  • No annoying cable on the work surface or around your legs
  • Flexible on-site use, since independent of power supply
  • Minimal maintenance effort
  • Ideal for working on smaller areas in between, even on large lawns
  • Generally longer durability of the knives


  • Not suitable for larger lawns (depending on personal stamina up to a maximum of 200 square meters)
  • Requires a certain amount of effort
  • Processing usually takes more time
  • Strenuous exertion of pressure required for deeper penetration into the earth (low dead weight)
  • Depending on the model/design, the handle/handle rods can break more quickly when pressure is applied
  • Dense soil difficult to loosen
  • Unsuitable for dense lawns with lots of moss or felt
  • Subsequently distributed fertilizer penetrates the soil less well
Tip: If, contrary to expectations, larger bare spots appear in the lawn after scarifying with the hand-held device, it is sufficient to simply put some lawn seeds on them and spread a little potting soil over them. The seed is protected from hungry birds and new stalks form in a short time.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *