Scarifier vs Dethatcher

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  March 12, 2022
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Who doesn’t want a beautiful green lawn at the front of the house? But, getting a perfect lawn requires a lot of effort and some special techniques. There’s a big secret to getting an impressive look on a lawn that most people don’t know. The key to maintaining a healthy lawn involves maintaining proper seeding and mowing techniques. When you do these things better, you will have better results as well.
However, these tasks are not so straightforward to complete, and you will often need some specialized techniques to help you along the way. It’s in such a situation that you will need dethatching and scarifying tools. In this article, we will contrast scarifiers and dethatchers as well in order to give you crucial information about each mowing tool and give you guidance on how to make your lawn look magnificent.

What Is A Scarifier?

You may not realize that, after you have cleaned your lawn and passed a few days, the debris will get deposited near the roots, eventually. Therefore, it would be best if this debris could be easily removed. A scarifier is intended to do that job nicely and remove all debris underneath your grass. You can run this tool with either electricity or by hand, which is wonderful. Get one which you feel more comfortable with. As the rotating metal blades dig through the surface, the air and water can flow through the grassroots flawlessly. Besides, the nutrients can also pass into the green grass to give your lawn a more attractive greenish look. More importantly, the vertical positioning of the blades boosts the positioning of the grass and allows fresh growth to improve the density among grasses. Specifically, the scarifier is very effective in removing the swallow-rooted useless grasses such as clovers, crabgrass, and other weed grasses. Not to mention, another special feature of the scarifier is that you can also use it for seeding purposes. If you didn’t over-seeded before and need it just after cleaning the lawn, you can use the scarifier to seed new grass seeds along with the cleaning process. Because, it can continuously drop new grass seeds into the grooves that are made using its metal blades.

What Is A Dethatcher?

Unlike a scarifier, the dethatcher doesn’t directly dig through the soil. It works less aggressively and only removes the thatches from the surface of the lawn. This lawn maintenance tool is relatively smaller and you need to attach the tool to a garden tractor or mower before using it. Because of the spring tines equipped with the dethatcher, it works like a comb and can pull up half an inch of thatches very easily. As a matter of fact, this tool comes in three types, which are powered, tow-behind, and manual. Despite having slightly different characteristics, all these types of dethatchers work quite similarly. Identically, the powered dethatcher comes with a robust motor and looks almost like a lawnmower. Since the power rakes also use robust motors as power sources, many people get confused between these two. In any case, you can easily identify a dethatcher because of its spring tines, and the point often overlooked, a power rake comes with sharp blades instead of tines. To be more specific, the powered dethatcher typically comes with a 13-amp class-leading motor that can easily revitalize medium-sized lawns. Besides, this lawn tool comes with a capability of optimal thatch pickup, which is featured by Air Boost Technology.

Differences Between Scarifier and Dethatcher

Both tools are suitable for removing accumulative and other excess materials from your lawn. However, the significant difference you can count here is their intensity of thatching. Besides, they don’t work using similar mechanisms and so on. To explain all these facts, we will discuss further things below.

Work Intensity

Though both tools work well in terms of removing debris around the lawn grass, their work mechanism is not the same. More importantly, they use different types of removers in their builds. Usually, the scarifier comes with metal blades and the dethatcher has spring tines to perform thatching tasks. By all means, the scarifier works very intensely using its sharp blades. On the other hand, you should use the dethatcher for less intensive cleaning tasks. When your lawn is full of weeds and excess grasses, it is better to avoid the dethatcher. At the same time, the scarifier can help you seed new grasses as well.

External Look of The Lawn

Specifically, you can use a dethatcher for removing accumulated debris around the grass up to the surface. So, it allows your lawn to get a clean look. However, the deep weed grasses will still be on the lawn. As a result, you won’t be able to change the overall look of your lawn. And most likely, the color of the lawn will transform lightly from golden to green due to the removal of dead grasses and external discolored debris. When talking about the scarifier, it can surely change the look of your lawn. Because this tool digs through the soil removing most of the weeds and excess accumulated debris. That means, your lawn will look healthier after scarifying the whole area, and staring at the lawn may give you a vibrant feeling. However, for the first few days, the edges of your lawn may look rough and pretty straight because of vertical digging.

Portability & Structure

Primarily, the scarifier comes with a cylinder-like structure and features large steel blades around it. More specifically, these blades look more like teeth and you can heavily dig down the soil collecting most of the thatches easily. However, when you use a riding mower, the digging process will seem better. On the contrary, the dethatcher looks almost the same as an electric push mower. And, the spring tines of this tool help to dethatch the debris from the surface. When talking about portability, this dethatching tool is also tough to use manually as it will tire you out quickly.


Certainly, a scarifier is able to remove thick layers of thatch very smoothly. That means, it removes all the debris which prevents water and nutrients from reaching the soil. Besides, you can discourage weed growth and prevent various moss propagation using this mowing tool. However, don’t use the scarifier very often to avoid damaging your grass. The special benefit of using a dethatcher is its temperature regulation capability, and you can control the moisture levels without any kind of extra equipment. Basically, the dethatcher allows nutrients and water to reach the grass. At the same time, it tries to prevent moss and weed growth by ensuring enough space for light.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know all the differences between these tools, you may be able to get a suitable tool for you. Actually, the scarifier is applicable when the lawn is full of weeds and needs overseeding. But, when you need only a light cleaning, mostly for external debris, you should go for a dethatcher. And, obviously, identify the current condition of your lawn correctly. Otherwise, using a dethatcher when you actually need scarifying will bring damage to your lawn grass.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.