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Scarification vs Verticutting what is the difference?

by TurfCareBlog

Scarification vs Verticutting what is the difference?

Scarification vs Verticutting what is the difference? is a blog which will look into the pro and cons, timings, when and how’s and differences of both options written from a groundsman perspective.

When is the best time to start verticutting and what are groundsmen looking to achieve?

Verticutting is about cleaning out the sward. You can do it at any time if the year, but if you do it often when the grass isn’t growing then you will start to stress the plant too much and/or remove too much leaf and lose grass cover.

I would say that once it is growing then you can’t do it enough! (but bio weekly ideal) Just make sure the blades aren’t impacting the soil surface!

Andy Mackay- ECB Grounds and Pitches Advisor.

A typical verticut unit- narrow spacing 1/2mm diameter blades

What does Verticutting do?

Main aim- Thatch prevention via litter removal (litter is>

Thins out the grass canopy in cricket pitch prep

Removes young weed seeds

Vertically removal of lateral plants, helping prevent stalky, crowny/circular and uneven grass coverage.

Removes litter within grass canopy (litter is loose, dead material found littering the canopy of the grass profile)

Designed to work 2-3mm above the soil surface, not impacting it.

Verticutters can have up to 40 blades/tines, closely spaced.

Help the prevention of annual meadow grass, which is crowny in nature and vertiutting can help remove the seed heads which spread it further.

Removes surface debris such as seed heads, leaves, small twigs and animal dropping which can break down and create organic matter in the soil, which you want to prevent.

Used bio weekly in the growing season, when the grass is growing actively.

Blades thinner at 1/2mm in width with close spacing.

A typical pedestrian scarifier, for thatch removal during end of season/renovations works, older model much more powerful engines are now available.

What does scarification do?

The main aim is Thatch removal (thatch is an accumulation of dead and dying organic material made up of old grass plants and roots and soil debris)

Removal of shallow rooted grass plants such as annual meadow grass and thins down the crown of other grass plants, especially stalky ones.

Removes the grass canopy if set aggressively and done in several direction, which is required pre top dressing to ensure a good integration of new and existing topdressing materials.

Designed to work within the soil or thatch layer itself down to 25 mm in some cases, for thatch and older grass removal purposes within the grass canopy and rootzone.

Designed for use during renovation periods at the end of seasons.

Blades much thicker (2/3 mm width) and set further apart.

Verticut unit -using a height bar or metal bar, positioned on the two rollers will give you assist you in setting the height , so the blade can be set 1/2 mm off the bar.to give you a rough guide

How to assess and set up a verticutter vs a scarifier?

Verticutter set up, you can use a height gauge but this will only give you a rough guide, as the thickness of the grass canopy and the weight of the machine, may affect how deep the verticutter goes into the grass canopy, but as a general guide set 2/3mm off the soil surface.

Soil profiles taken (options knife/soil profiler) to access depth of thatch, help you to gauge what depth you need to work to !

How to set up a scarifier (end of season)

The starting point in gauging the depth of scarifing is knowing first what the depth of thatch is, if you have a depth of 10 mm in thatch you need to scarify to a final depth of 11mm.

I personally would work my way down, no point in going in straight at 11 mm, removing some thatch but not cleaning out the top of the canopy and possibly burying grass under topdressings.

What is grooming of the turf?

Grooming is the lightest form of thatch/litter removal and just flicks through the top of the grass canopy. The groomer stands up the grass vertically prior to cutting and will only remove a very small amount of litter or thatch in the top of the grass canopy.

Why is a garden type scarifier not suitable for end of season renovations works on a cricket table or tennis court?

Power of the machine is key here with the leading machines having around 14 hp engines, this amount of horse power is needed to impact a dry, compacted cricket square profile and thatch layer. A garden scarifier simply will not work to these depths in such harsh working conditions.

If the soil is very wet, these garden type machines may impact to soil surface, but l would really encourage the most aggressive type machine you can get.

As a rough guide, even without a thatch layer, a 7-10mm in depth last scarification pass is pretty key, for one to help the topdressing integrate with the existing loam but also provide a key for the seed (ideal seed depth 10-15mm). The last deeper pass will also help pull out any shallow rooted weedgrass (Poa)

What type of machinery is on the market?

Images of sisis rotakrake (old model) and Graden and Dennis cassette/Thatch-Away all in an image gallery.

Graden is a very powerful machine, but does not have a collection box, by makes up for it with the power and build quality.

Dennis and sisis have the option of interchangeable cassettes, so brush cassettes can can also be fitted along with thatch control blades.

Thatch-Away are a standalone verticutter but are very highly rated amongst users.

I hope you found this blog of some interest, l always learn something writing this and its just my thoughts as a working groundsman, rather than a factual document.

The tractor mounted TM1000 is a great bit of kit, but maybe less of a viable option to small clubs who don’t have a tractor and or room to store such a machine.

Brian on behalf of the TurfCareBlog Community.

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