Scarification – Best Practice

Sports Surface Consultant Alan Lewis has revealed his tips for best practice when it comes to scarifying. Alan, a highly respected Sports Surface Consultant, has an MSc in Sports Surface Technology, many years practical experience as a turf professional, and is a consultant to bodies such as Sport England.

When it comes to the sports turf maintenance, Alan Lewis is very well placed to advise on a number of maintenance tasks and he recently took the opportunity to discuss scarifying.

“The word scarification covers such a broad range of operations,” he said. “It is important that we identify the difference between scarification as a renovation tool and scarification as a surface maintenance tool.”

Alan suggests that, before undertaking any scarifying, groundsmen and greenkeepers should assess how much organic matter there is and where exactly it is in the profile.

“It is so important to assess the surface. Organic matter, or what we term thatch, has many bad effects on sports surfaces. It can badly affect the speed of the surface, the movement of water and nutrients, have an impact on what grasses will grow and it is also a food source for some very common pests such as Leatherjackets and Chafer Grubs.”

“Once it is established where the thatch is and what the depth of it is, then the next step is to select suitable equipment.”

“It is important to state that scarification is important in two aspects,” continued Alan. “One is the physical removal of some of the organic matter, but the second is the fact that it allows air into the soil, and within the air are microbes to help break down some of the thatch.”

“It is not a one operation fixes all,” warned Alan. “Normally, if you have a lot of thatch, say 25mm plus, then you are going to have to look at a three-year programme. I would recommend that most of this work is carried out in the autumn when the soil is still warm. You’ll also get better recovery in the autumn period.”

“When it comes to scarification, it is important to identify the differences between renovation and maintenance,” he continued. “Scarifying to maintain the surface during the season, I always equate to someone combing their hair. In this case you only scarify the grass plant, and the reason for that is that you don’t want to scarify too deep because otherwise you will mark the soil and that will create a run for the golf ball if you are scarifying a golf green for instance.”

“I would recommend scarifying to maintain the surface once every two weeks. A word of caution though if you don’t have irrigation – scarifying will dry the greens out quicker, so be careful not to carry the work out in dry conditions.”

“There are so many benefits to surface scarification: It will help to reduce the effect of creeping grasses and will encourage tillering and shooting which will support the golf ball. It all helps with playability and can improve the speed of the green.”

“On the other hand, if scarifying during the season is comparable to combing your hair, then end of season renovations is like being scalped.”

“To conclude, identify what kind of scarifying you want to carry out by assessing the surface, choose the right equipment and then get to work.”

Highly regarded by groundsmen and greenkeepers throughout the UK and beyond is the SISIS range of scarifiers. The Rotorake 600HD is a heavy-duty pedestrian scarifier and linear aerator. This versatile machine is equally at home when used for regular routine use at a shallow setting or a deeper setting when required. It also contributes to aeration and compaction relief by cutting clean, continuous slits to assist water and air absorption.

Alternatively, you may want to consider the SISIS Rotorake TM1000 – a specially designed tractor mounted unit with a choice of five quick release interchangeable reels to aid the removal and control of thatch and help to reduce standing surface water by improving water infiltration. Features include a contra rotating reel for a clean consistent performance with a selection of various blades to suit key tasks.

The weight of the collection box and material is carried by the main frame on the front roller and independent from the reel, so when in use the additional weight does not force the reel to scarify deeper than has been set.

For further information or a no obligation demonstration, please contact SISIS on 01332 824 777 or visit

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