Should You Fertilize Before Or After Scarifying?

Fertilizing and scarifying are two lawn care measures that each make an important contribution to the healthy growth of the lawn. To ensure that scarifying actually stimulates shoot formation instead of harming the lawn grasses, you should first fertilize the lawn and then scarify it. Fertilization actually strengthens the lawn by providing additional nutrients and thus supports the ability to regenerate after scarifying.

Scarifying is stress for the lawn

When dethatching, the blades of the dethatcher cut vertically into the lawn scar to pull out the lawn felt. If the blades are properly adjusted, they cut completely through the lawn thatch and score the soil underneath only about 1 to 2 mm. Still, this procedure is stressful to the lawn. The lawn grasses need far more regenerative forces after scarifying than after mowing. Therefore, there are two things to keep in mind when dethatching:

  • The best time to scarify is late spring, when the days are getting longer and temperatures are rising.
  • Before scarifying, the lawn should be optimally supplied with all the nutrients needed for growth by fertilizing.

Fertilize lawn about 10 days before scarifying.

Fertilizers return important nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium to the lawn and soil. In this way, they enable the grasses to grow evenly and vigorously. It is important to take advantage of this positive effect and fertilize the lawn about 10 days before dethatching to stimulate the grasses to grow more vigorously.

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If the lawn is not fertilized at the time of dethatching and possibly even additionally weakened, for example by a cold winter, the lawn grasses cannot recover so quickly from the cuts and have to struggle with this stress for a long time. So if you value a fresh-green and vital lawn, you should definitely reach for lawn fertilizer before scarifying.

Fertilizing and scarifying lawns are two maintenance measures that should not be carried out carelessly. Especially by too much fertilizer and cutting too deep into the lawn scar when scarifying, severe lawn damage can be caused.

Whether to fertilize before or after scarifying (also known as dethatching) depends on the specific needs of your lawn and the type of grass you have. Here are some general guidelines to help you decide:

1. Fertilize Before Scarifying:

  • If your lawn is in relatively good condition and you haven’t fertilized in a while, it’s a good idea to apply a slow-release, balanced fertilizer a few weeks before scarifying. This will help your grass recover more quickly after dethatching.

2. Fertilize After Scarifying:

  • If your lawn has a heavy thatch layer, significant compaction, or you’re doing a major renovation, it’s often best to scarify first and then fertilize. Scarifying can be an intense process that may damage some of the grass. Fertilizing after scarifying helps the grass recover and encourages new growth.

3. Fertilizing During Scarification:

  • Some lawn care professionals recommend using a liquid fertilizer during the scarification process. This method can provide a quick nutrient boost to the grass while allowing for simultaneous dethatching.
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In all cases, consider the following factors:

  • Grass Type: Different grass types have different needs. Warm-season and cool-season grasses may have specific requirements for fertilization timing.
  • Thatch Depth: The thickness of the thatch layer can impact the decision. If thatch is excessive, you might prioritize scarifying first.
  • Fertilizer Type: Choose a balanced, slow-release fertilizer with the right nutrient ratios for your grass type and local soil conditions.
  • Local Climate: Consider the local climate and growing season. Fertilize during the active growth periods for your grass.
  • Soil Test: A soil test can provide valuable information about the nutrient levels in your soil, helping you make informed decisions about fertilizer application.

Remember that timing is crucial. It’s often best to scarify and fertilize when your grass is actively growing and can make the most of the nutrients provided. Additionally, always follow product label instructions and local guidelines for lawn care practices to achieve the best results.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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