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Verticutting the lawn – Should you and if so Why & How?

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Scarifying is a word that’s branded around way more than verticutting in the lawn care community.

So, you might be wondering what verticutting is, whether it’s worth doing and what the best way to go about it might be.

That’s where this article comes in.

So, ultimately verticutting is the act of using a machine to remove grass blades that are likely to turn into thatch. Thereby using it as a preventative measure as opposed to a reactive measure for removing thatch.

At the end, I give a brief summary of the overall benefits of regularly verticutting the grass

First, how is verticutting different to scarifying?

Put simply, verticutting prevents thatch build-up while scarifying gets rid of thatch.

When you go over the lawn with a verticutter,, the machine doesn’t quite touch the soil thereby removing grass blades that are likely to turn into thatch. Note, if you touch the soil while verticutting, you might end up causing damage and may need to do an overseed too.

That’s why it’s usually done most on bowling greens and golf greens where the ground is perfectly flat.

A verticutting cassette has way more blades than a scarifier. The blades are shorter too.

When & how often to Verticut the lawn

The best time to do it is on dry days during the growing season when you’re not likely to cause too much damage to the healthy grass blades.

Most professional greenkeepers will try to verticut every 2-3 weeks. That’s because it helps to keep thatch to a minimum and means there’s no need for a full renovation every 6 months.

I’m not suggesting you need to do it this often but most definitely doing it every now and again during the growing season will help to keep your grass breathing. In turn, keeping it green, thick and lush.

Keeping on top of your verticutting can help to significant

How to Verticut Your Lawn: A Step-by-Step Process

Prepare the grass: Begin by mowing your lawn to a slightly lower height than usual to facilitate the verticutting process. This helps expose the thatch layer and allows the verticutter blades to penetrate effectively.

Adjust Verticutter Blades: Adjust the depth of the verticutter blades according to the thickness of the thatch layer and the condition of your lawn. Start with a shallow setting and gradually increase the depth if necessary.

Verticutting: Using a verticutter machine, systematically run the blades across the lawn in parallel lines, covering the entire area. Ensure overlapping passes to achieve thorough dethatching and to prevent missed spots.

Cleanup: As you verticut, the machine will lift and cut through the thatch layer, dislodging debris and dead grass. Rake up the removed thatch and debris to prevent it from smothering the lawn and hindering new growth.

Post-Care: Consider overseeding the lawn to promote thick, healthy turf growth. Additionally, apply fertiliser and water the lawn adequately to facilitate recovery and promote lush greenery.

How much does verticutting cost?

Trust me! The products on the domestic market can become quite confusing. You might ask yourself – where ‘s the boubndaryb between a verticutter and a scarifier.

Not only that. When you type it into Google, you get a lot of scarifiers showing up close to the top so it would seem that not even Google knows the difference.

As mentioned above, a scarifier is much harsher on the soil and gets a lot deeper. That said, a lot of companies will try to sell their products as both a scarifier and a verticutter.

So, let’s take a look.

Manual vs Machinery

The perfect example and possibly the cheapest option is using a manual vertical cutter. A Gardena one will set you back around £60-£70.

Manually cutting is going to take a loooong time though if you have more than, say, 40m2 to cover. Therefore you might want to get a machine.

The best one i can find is a Bosch which will set you back around £130. This is an actual verticutter as opposed to a lawn raker.

Adapting your scarifier to become a Verticutter

Believe it or not. I’ve actually found a company that makes verticutter cassettes that can be placed on branded scarifier machines.

For example if you’ve got the all popular Screwfix Scarifier. You can buy a cassette that will turn it into a verticutter with by just swapping them over. They also do one for VonHaus or Hyundai.

One problem though!

These adaptation blades aren’t cheap. The Screwfix one for example will cost around £135. So you might ask yourself – what’s the point.

I guess the main benefit is storage. Buying just the blade, you don’t need to store yet another large machine in your probably already bloated shed.

So, as you can see a verticutting machine is a reasonable price if you’re serious about keeping your grass neat throughout the growing season.

A summary of the benefits of verticutting the lawn

  1. Thatch Removal: Verticutting effectively removes excess thatch buildup from the lawn, preventing it from suffocating the grass and hindering water and nutrient absorption.
  2. Improved Air Circulation: By cutting through the thatch layer, verticutting enhances air circulation within the soil, promoting healthier root growth and overall turf vigor.
  3. Enhanced Water Infiltration: Verticutting helps water penetrate the soil more effectively, reducing runoff and promoting deeper root development, which makes the lawn more drought-resistant.
  4. Increased Nutrient Absorption: Breaking up compacted soil through verticutting allows nutrients to reach the grassroots more efficiently, fostering lush, green growth.
  5. Reduced Disease Risk: Thatch accumulation can create a conducive environment for disease pathogens. Verticutting removes this buildup, reducing the risk of lawn diseases such as fungal infections.
  6. Enhanced Seed Germination: Verticutting creates an ideal seedbed by loosening the soil surface, promoting better seed-to-soil contact and improving germination rates for overseeding efforts.
  7. Improved Fertilizer Efficiency: With better soil contact and nutrient absorption, fertilizers applied after verticutting are more readily utilized by the grass, leading to more efficient nutrient uptake and utilization.
  8. Uniform Growth: By promoting a more uniform growth pattern, verticutting helps prevent uneven turf surfaces, making mowing easier and resulting in a more aesthetically pleasing lawn.
  9. Thicker Turf Density: Removing thatch and promoting better root growth encourages thicker turf density, which can help choke out weeds and create a denser, healthier lawn.
  10. Long-Term Soil Health: Regular verticutting contributes to long-term soil health by preventing thatch buildup, reducing compaction, and promoting beneficial microbial activity, leading to a sustainable and resilient lawn ecosystem.
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