Best Lawn Scarifier: Petrol, Electric, or Manual? Reviews of My Top Choices and In-Depth Buyers Guide

best lawn scarifier

I recently wrote my Ultimate Guide to Lawn Scarification, an in-depth article that covered the ins and outs of scarifying, from start to finish.

As a result of that article, I received a number of emails. They asked for my thoughts on what I think is the best lawn scarifier and which type they should use in their gardens.

I’m writing this article to answer those questions.

We’re going to cover the different types of lawn scarifier and why you might choose one over the other. Then we’ll take a closer look at what I think are the best lawn scarifiers and offer my thoughts on which one you should invest in.


Contents

 

The Best Lawn Scarifier: My Top Recommendations

If you’re in a rush and you want to see what my tops picks are without going through the whole buyers’ guide, take a look at the table below.

You can either click on the buttons to go buy your favourite choice or, click on the ‘My Review’ text links to read my review of the product you’re interested in.

 

Wolf Garten Hand ScarifierWolf Garten Moss Removal Rake: The Best Hand Scarifier

– Very Well Built
– Simple to Use
– 10 Year Warranty

View on Amazon.co.uk

Or Read My Review


 

Bosch AVR 1100 VerticutterBosch AVR 1100 Verticutter Review: Best Electric Scarifier

– Removes Lots of Moss and Thatch
– Easy to Manoeuvre
– 4 Height Settings

View on Amazon.co.uk

Or Read My Review


 

VonHaus 2-in-1 Scarifier/Lawn Rake: A Cheaper Alternative

– Comes with 2 cassettes for scarifying & raking
– Easy to Manoeuvre
– Feels a bit cheap

View on Amazon.co.uk

Or Read My Review


 

AL-KO 38P Petrol Scarifier
Alko 38P Combi-Care 2-in-1 Lawn Scarifier Rake: The Best Petrol Scarifier

– Excellent Build Quality
– Blasts Though Thatch and Moss
– Very Easy to Clean

View on Amazon.co.uk

Or Read My Review

 

What Does Scarifying Do?


I covered this in great detail in my ultimate guide to scarification so I won’t go into too much detail here, but…

…Lawn scarification is best done in the autumn although it can be done is spring too.

Scarifying is the process of removing thatch from your lawn.

What is Thatch?

Lawn thatch is organic matter which is made up of dead grass roots, leaves, clippings and other material.

Having some thatch (around a quarter inch) in your lawn is a good thing. It protects the grown of the grass plant from damage and disease while still allowing water, air and nutrients to get into the soil.

However, any more than that and thatch can start to cause problems.

It can prevent water, air and nutrients from reaching the soil. This means the grass can’t develop strong roots and fight off fungal disease like Red Thread or Fusarium Patch and even Dog Lichen that is caused by moisture unable to drain away.

Scarifying removes excess thatch to allow water, air and nutrients back into the soil. This, in turn, promotes new grass growth which creates a thicker, lusher and healthier lawn.

 

The Different Types of Scarifier


There are three types of scarifier. The best one for you will depend on a few things;

  • The size of your lawn
  • Whether you like gardening or not, and
  • Your budget

Hand-Held Rolling Scarifiers

hand held scarifierIf you’ve got a tiny lawn and a small budget, a hand-held scarifier might be your best choice.

That said, scarifying even a small lawn with a handheld scarifier can take a few hours and a lot of energy. What you save in money you will spend in time, if not more. So you need to consider what your time is worth to you.

If you hate gardening and you want to work quickly, you might consider spending a bit more on a powered scarifier.

On the other hand, if your budget doesn’t allow you to upgrade and you like spending the time to care for your garden, a hand-held scarifier might be perfect for you.

Electric Scarifiers

electric scarifierOften sold as powered scarifiers, electric scarifiers, electric lawn rakes.

They’re relatively cheap and many come with interchangeable cassettes. A wire cassette for raking out moss and a blade cassette for scarifying.

This makes them ideal for home use.

They’re perfect for small to medium sized lawns from 30 square meters to 100 square meters. Any bigget than that and they can become hampered by their power cords.

Even on small lawns, I prefer to use a powered scarifier. It’s just quicker and easier.

Petrol Scarifiers

petrol scarifierStarting at around £300 and going up into the thousands for a professional machine, petrol scarifiers are by far the most expensive.

But if you have hundreds of square meters of lawns with luxury, ornamental grass that needs scarifying on a regular basis, you’ll need a machine that isn’t limited by a power cord and has the power to cut cleanly through thick thatch.

In which case, a petrol scarifier is really the only option.

 

Lawn Scarifier Reviews: A Closer Look at My Top Picks


The very best lawn scarifier will set you back thousands of pounds and that’s OK if you own and run a lawn care company or you’re a groundskeeper for an award-winning golf course.

But chances are you don’t, so the machines I’ve reviewed here don’t cost anything like that kind of money. I’ve specifically reviewed scarifiers for home use.

1. Wolf Garten Multi-Change Moss Removal Rake: Best Hand Scarifier

best hand scarifier

If you’re on a budget and/or you’ve got a small lawn, Wolf Garten’s Multi-Change Moss Removal Rake is, in my mind, the best hand scarifier.

How it Works

This hand scarifier is very simple to use.

You simply roll it forward and the blades glide over the lawn. Then, when you drag it back the teeth cut into the turf pulling out dead thatch.

The higher you lift the handle the deeper the blades go.

What’s Good About it

Firstly, Wolf Garten is a German company and we all know how renowned the Germans are for quality engineering.

This rolling hand scarifier is no different, the build quality is excellent. It feels solid, very well made and it also comes with a 10-year guarantee which gives you the confidence to work it hard.

It works well too, cutting into the turf and removing excess thatch very reliably. The higher you lift the handle, the deeper the blades go, meaning you can scarify more deeply.

What’s Not So Great

Firstly, this product is sold as a moss removal rake which can be a bit misleading.

To remove moss from a lawn you don’t want blades. You need thin, flexible tines which tear the moss from the surface. So as a moss removal rake, it’s really not great.

Secondly, please be aware that the price you see is for the scarifier head only. You don’t get a handle so you’d need to buy the handle separately.

This is because it’s a ‘Multi-Change’ tool, meaning you can buy different tools for the same handle. For example, you can buy the scarifier head for removing thatch and a rake head to rake it up. Then turn right around and attach a hoe head for hoeing your borders before changing it for a brush head to sweep up any mess.

While this isn’t a criticism per se (I think it’s actually a good idea), you should know that you need to buy the handle too.

What Others Users Think

Online reviews for this product are overwhelmingly positive.

It scores 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon from over 300 reviews with many people praising it for how robust and easy it is to use. One reviewer even claims that it’s ‘built like a battleship’.

Also, despite being sold separately from the handle, many people consider it to be very well priced. Which, I have to agree with.

When it comes to the amount of work involved with scarifying by hand, some people love the amount of work it takes. They say it’s a good workout while also being easier than they anticipated. Others complained about just how physical it is.

Talking of complaints, there are a few but not many at all.

They include; the fact that it doesn’t remove moss very well and you have to buy the handle separately.

One or two people also complained that it only works well on flat lawns. If your lawn is bumpy, it’ll miss some low areas and tear up higher areas.

That being said, this will happen no matter what type of scarifier you use. If your lawn is uneven, treatments like top dressing and other repairs will help.

Overall Thoughts

If;

  1. You have a small lawn or lawns
  2. You’re willing to graft, and
  3. You buy the Wolf Garten Rolling Moss Remover as a scarifier and not a moss remover

I think you’ll love it.

It’s very well built, easy to use, and it works.

 


Wolf Garten Hand ScarifierWolf Garten Moss Removal Rake: The Best Hand Scarifier

– Very Well Built
– Simple to Use
– 10 Year Warranty

View on Amazon.co.uk

 


 

2. Bosch AVR 1100 Verticutter Review: Best Electric Scarifier

best electric scarifier

If scarifying your lawn manually sounds like too much hard work, an electric scarifier like the Bosch AVR 1100 Verticutter is an excellent choice.

A Quick Overview

Technically, the Bosch AVR 1100 isn’t a scarifier, it’s a verti-cutter. They essentially do the same job but verti-cutters have more blades and don’t cut as deeply as a traditional scarifier.

The benefit is that they’re much gentler on your lawn and produce a much finer finish. They can often leave it looking a bit worse for wear (which is expected after this kind of treatment) but not like it’s been chewed up by a tractor.

What’s Good About it

Like Wolf Garten, Bosch is a very well known German manufacturer and are famous for producing quality products. This fact is backed up by a 2-year warranty.

The AVR 1100 takes the physical work out of removing moss and thatch. When compared to a manual scarifier, it removes an extraordinary amount.

There are 14 blades on the roller which pivot, meaning the machine won’t snag or get damaged should you hit a loose stone or tree root. It works quickly too, thanks to its 1,100-watt motor so you won’t be at it all day.

4 height settings that range from -10mm to +5mm give you plenty of flexibility. If you’re just attacking the moss after winter, keep it on the higher settings and it does a very good job. If you want to get a bit deeper and remove any build up thatch in the autumn, lower it and you’ll be shocked at the amount of material it pulls out.

The machine also features what Bosch call their ‘Jet Collection System’. This is essentially an air flow system that sucks the debris into the 50-litre collection box. I have to say it does work pretty well.

It weighs in at 9.9kg so it’s easy to manoeuvre and carry. And when you’ve finished with it you can store it away easily thanks to its double folding handle and stackable storage box.

What’s Not So Great

The collection box…

It has a 50-litre capacity which, on a lawnmower, is more often than not absolutely fine. On a scarifier, however, it’s not nearly enough. If your lawn is more moss and thatch than it is grass, you’ll have to stop every few meters just to empty it.

Now, this complaint isn’t limited to just this model, it’s a common issue among all amateur scarifiers.

Also, the underside can get pretty mucky, which is to be expected when blades come into contact with soil. But trying to clean the area behind the blades isn’t easy.

What Other Users Think

This Bosch Verti-cutter is very well reviewed online, scoring 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon from over 400 reviews.

Nearly every one of them commends it on how well it removes moss and thatch.

The amount of negative reviews it has received is very few.

Some people have commented that it feels quite flimsy which I have to disagree with. Yes, it’s predominantly made from plastic on top but it’s plenty sturdy enough.

And lastly, there are one or two complaints that the machine sometimes cuts out. However, this is a safety feature that prevents the machine from overheating and killing the motor. Don’t worry if this happens to you.

Overall Thoughts

If you want a machine that’ll remove moss and dethatch your lawn without completely wrecking it, the Bosch AVR 1100 Verticutter has to be the best lawn scarifier for home lawns.

It’s reliable, easy to use and it does an excellent job.

 


Bosch AVR 1100 VerticutterBosch AVR 1100 Verticutter Review: Best Electric Scarifier

– Removes Lots of Moss and Thatch
– Easy to Manoeuvre
– 4 Height Settings

View on Amazon.co.uk

 


 

3. VonHaus 2-in-1 Lawn Scarifier and Aerator Review: A Good, Cheaper Alternative

the best cheap lawn scarifier

If you want an electric scarifier but don’t want to spend the £150(ish) for a Bosch, then this VonHaus 2-in-1 Scarifier and Aerator is a good alternative.

A Quick Overview

This is a 2-in-1 machine so it comes with two cassettes; One with flexible tines for raking moss and another one has verticle blades for scarifying.

What’s Good About it

Firstly, let’s talk about the price. It comes in at around £90 which is £60 cheaper than the Bosch.

On top of that, it’s also backed up by a 2-year guarantee.

Good start!

It’s well built, feels sturdy and also pretty powerful at 1,500 watts. It rips up moss and blasts through thick thatch with ease and it extracted a huge amount of material when I tested it.

Like the Bosch, it has four height settings which are set very easily by a lever so you’re in control when it comes to how deep and aggressive you want to be. Although I’d recommend you start on the higher settings and lower them as you go to avoid ruining your lawn.

Manoeuvring it is also easy as it weighs in at less than 10kg.

What’s Not So Great

Again, let’s start with the collection box.

The Bosch’s 50-litre capacity wasn’t big enough so VonHous’s 28-litre capacity is useless. I ended up drilling two holes through the flap, cable tying it to the handle and working without the bag.

Also, (and I really don’t know why manufacturers insist on giving machines the wrong names) this isn’t an aerator. It’s a lawn rake with the tine attachment and a scarifier with the blade attachment.

Don’t buy this expecting it to spike or hollow-tine, it won’t.

If you like to read the instruction manual before using machinery then you might be disappointed because the instructions are pretty vague.

It’s also pretty difficult to clean after using it due to all the bumps and ridges in the plastic. They are there to add strength but they make cleaning a bit of a chore. That said, the fact that you can remove the cassette makes it easier.

What Other Users Think

At the time of writing, this Vonhaus 2-in-1 Scarifier and Lawn Rake (not aerator!) scores 4.4 out of 5 stars from nearly 350 reviews on Amazon.

The vast majority of users seem to really like it and are surprised at how well it performs considering how cheap it is.

One and two-star reviews make up for 5% of the overall number. The main complaint is about how useless the collection box is. Other complaints are really on the build quality of the machine and how cheap it feels.

That’s because it is cheap.

Overall Thoughts

If you’re looking for the best lawn scarifier, this isn’t it. Don’t expect to pay £90 and get a machine that works like, or is as reliable as something that costs £400.

However, if you’ve got a fairly tight budget and want something fairly decent to take the manual labour out of scarifying your lawn, it has to be worth considering.

 


VonHaus 2-in-1 Scarifier/Lawn Rake: A Cheaper Alternative

– Comes with 2 cassettes for scarifying & raking
– Easy to Manoeuvre
– Feels a bit cheap

View on Amazon.co.uk

 


4. Alko 38P Combi-Care 2-in-1 Lawn Rake / Scarifier Review: The Best Petrol Scarifier For Home Lawns

best petrol scarifier

If you’ve got large lawns and/or you want a scarifier that will really stand the test of time, the AL-KO 38P Combi-Care Petrol Lawn Rake / Scarifier is the best lawn scarifier for home lawns.

A Quick Overview

AL-KO is another German manufacturer that produce exceptionally high-quality gardening products and machinery.

It’s a 2-in-1 machine which comes with two cassettes for scarifying and raking.

What’s Good About it

Firstly, the build quality is excellent. It feels much sturdier than the other scarifiers I have reviewed. Yes, it’s made from plastic on top but it’s tough stuff.

And it has a two-year warranty.

It’s easy to put together, you’ll need to fill the engine with oil and fuel but I found that it fired up the first time. In fact, I had put it together and was using it within the hour.

And talk about getting through thatch and moss!

If you thought an electric scarifier extracted a lot of debris, the 1.3kW petrol engine takes it to a whole different level. And with 5 different depth settings, you have even more control over how drastic you want to be.

The fact that it’s a petrol machine also means you’re not bound by the length of the power cord. You’ll not have to mess around with extension cables. In fact, AL-KO says this machine is the perfect partner for lawns up to 1,200m².

Changing the cassettes is a simple, tool-less job which takes seconds.

Due to the fact that there is an engine powering this scarifier, it’s pretty much twice as heavy as the others I have reviewed. That said, the extra weight helps the tines and blades get into the grass and it’s still very easy to manoeuvre.

And unlike the other scarifiers I’ve reviewed, cleaning it is super easy. The cassettes come out with the twist of a wing nut and the underside is completely smooth and free of plastic ribs and ridges.

What’s Not So Great

Again (and I sound like a broken record now), despite the collection box having a 55-litre capacity, it’s not big enough. That said, anything bigger and it would be cumbersome to use.

If you’ve never scarified your lawn, or not done it for a few years, the collection box will be full within 5-10 meters. Which, on the good side, shows just how effective this scarifier and raker is at removing thatch and moss.

That said, if there is lots of thatch and moss in your lawn, it did seem to get caught in and around the front wheels. It’s not a big problem at all but I did have to stop once or twice to unclog them.

Then there’s the primer button, it could be more accessible.

What Other Users Think

Out of nearly 60 reviews, this AL-KO scarifier scores 4 stars.

Users that like it, love it.

There are some critical reviews, however, many of which I have covered in my review but some users complain about the instruction manual being difficult to understand.

Some users also seemed to have difficulty with priming and starting the engine. That said, upgrading from an electric model that you simply have to plug in, to a petrol engine with fuel and oil and primers can be a bit of a learning curve.

Overall Thoughts

I have to say, I found the AL-KO 38P Combi-Care Petrol Lawn Rake / Scarifier a joy to use.

It’s sturdy, well built and simple to operate when you get the hang of it.

And it shreds through moss and thatch incredibly easily. It took me just under an hour to scarify a 300m² lawn with two passes (not including the time it took to rake up all the debris).

If your lawn is anything less than 50m² this might be a bit overkill but for larger lawns, it’s definitely worth considering.

It’s not perfect, no machine is, but I wouldn’t let the issues I’ve outlined stop you investing in one. On the whole, I think it’s a fantastic machine.

 


AL-KO 38P Petrol Scarifier
Alko 38P Combi-Care 2-in-1 Lawn Scarifier Rake: The Best Petrol Scarifier

– Excellent Build Quality
– Blasts Though Thatch and Moss
– Very Easy to Clean

View on Amazon.co.uk

 

In Conclusion


As a reminder, here are what I think are the best lawn scarifiers:

 

Wolf Garten Hand ScarifierWolf Garten Moss Removal Rake: The Best Hand Scarifier

– Very Well Built
– Simple to Use
– 10 Year Warranty

View on Amazon.co.uk

Or Read My Review


 

Bosch AVR 1100 VerticutterBosch AVR 1100 Verticutter Review: Best Electric Scarifier

– Removes Lots of Moss and Thatch
– Easy to Manoeuvre
– 4 Height Settings

View on Amazon.co.uk

Or Read My Review


 

VonHaus 2-in-1 Scarifier/Lawn Rake: A Cheaper Alternative

– Comes with 2 cassettes for scarifying & raking
– Easy to Manoeuvre
– Feels a bit cheap

View on Amazon.co.uk

Or Read My Review


 

AL-KO 38P Petrol Scarifier
Alko 38P Combi-Care 2-in-1 Lawn Scarifier Rake: The Best Petrol Scarifier

– Excellent Build Quality
– Blasts Though Thatch and Moss
– Very Easy to Clean

View on Amazon.co.uk

Or Read My Review

 

Choosing the best lawn scarifier for the job will save you a ton of time and potentially back-breaking work.

The old adage is true, you get what you pay for so my advice would be to buy the very best machine you can afford. That said, you don’t have to spend hundreds of pounds on a machine that’ll be used on 30 square meters of lawn.

Hopefully, my recommendations will steer you in the right direction.

Now it’s Over to You

Which scarifier are you going to buy? Which one have you already got?

If you have any questions or comments or you’d like to share your experiences with a particular machine, let me know in the comments below.

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