Petrol-powered scarifier buying guide

Petrol-powered scarifier buying guide

Pauline, Self-taught DIYer, Leeds

Guide written by:

Pauline, Self-taught DIYer, Leeds

121 guides

A scarifier is a must-have tool for anyone looking to grow a lush lawn. Scarifiers work to remove thatch and aerate the soil to keep your lawn healthy with minimal effort. Petrol-powered models come with a range of features and accessories for an almost professional result! Read on to find the right scarifier for you.

Important features

  • Engine power and capacity
  • Cutting width
  • Number of tines and blades
  • Cutting depth and adjustments
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Just like lawnmowers, petrol scarifiers are designed with purely lawn maintenance in mind. But rather than cutting the grass, a scarifier is used to remove thatch and weeds, and inject air into the soil. And unlike their electric counterparts, petrol-powered scarifiers are equipped with a two-stroke engine meaning theydon't need to be connected to mains power.

The engine power of a petrol scarifier can reach up to 5 HP and 180 CC for optimum performance (although 3 HP is a good starting point). At the same time, power alone isn't enough and there are a few other characteristics to look for if you want a clean and professional result.

Here are a few features to think about before investing in a petrol scarifier:

  • cutting depth;
  • cutting width: the wider the machine, the less you'll have to go back and forth;
  • the number of blades and tines: this will affect the performance of the scarifier;
  • the blade and tine material: if you want top-of-the-line, go for tempered steel;
  • motor power: the engine capacity will dictate the performance of the machine;
  • grass box volume (in litres);
  • scarifier body material: plastic or steel (the latter being the stronger option).

Please note: petrol scarifiers are noisy machines due to their engine and the sound of the vegetation being processed. It is therefore recommended to wear ear defenders when using a scarifier.

How to choose a petrol-powered scarifier

Two to three years (more the warranty is extended)
Motor power
50 to 180 CC (1.8 to 5 HP)
Garden size
Perfect for gardens of less than 500 m² or smaller spaces out of reach of power outlets.
Many hardwearing blades with a rustproof coating. A raker/scarifier features 24 to 48 tines; a scarifier will feature 14 to 20 blades.
8 depth settings max. Up to 1.5 cm in depth for scarifiers (up to 5 cm in depth for lawn aerators).
Cutting width
30 to 50 cm
Ease of use
Ergonomic and height-adjustable handlebar; wheels designed for multiple surfaces; reasonable weight for easier handling.
Plastic or fabric grass box with good capacity (30 to 60 litres) and a brake for sloping terrain.
Price range
£300 to £1200
Spare part availability dependent on model and brand.
Noise level
Engine noise level produced (in decibels). No matter which model you choose, wear ear protection.
In terms of weight, some petrol scarifiers can get into the region of about 40 kg. Make sure to check that your machine will be easy enough to put into storage or think about investing in a set of ramps if not. To ensure your blades last, remember to clean after each use and to sharpen once a year.

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Petrol-powered scarifiers

Scarifying goes hand in hand with raking which is why most scarifiers perform both actions. Scarifying involves cutting into and gathering dried up plant debris while lawn rakers work to remove surface moss. Scarifiers usually feature both blades and tines allow you to remove both surface moss and more stubborn plant matter.

  • Scarifierblades work to cut through moss and dead vegetation before sending it into a grass box;
  • Spring tines are only able to eliminate surface moss.

Scarifier blades

Scarifier blades remove thatch, weeds and other plant matter before sending it into a grass box. Scarifying requires more power than raking alone meaning these machines are usually feature a 144 to 180 CC (or 1.8 to 5 HP) engine.

Scarifier tines

Scarifier tines work to remove moss from the surface of your lawn. Some tines may also penetrate the ground to help aerate the soil.

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Something of a high-end lawn care tool, a petrol-powered scarifier is expected to meet certain standards.

These machines should work to create a more or less perfect lawn quickly and with minimal effort.

5 things to look out for in a high-quality petrol scarifier

  1. A height-adjustable handlebar means you can adapt the machine to suit the height of the user and prevent back pain. An ergonomically designed scarifier will ensure easy, pleasant and pain-free handling.
  2. The grass box or bag should measure around 30 to 60 litres: the larger the volume, the less you'll have to empty it. It may be made of hard plastic or fabric.
  3. A selection of depth adjustments. Scarifiers will usually offer three depth settings up to 1.5 cm. If you're looking for more, go for an aerator which can reach up to 5 cm in the soil.
  4. A large number of blades and tines makes for efficient performance and a clean result. A lawn raker will usually feature about 24 to 48 tines and a scarifier will usually feature about 14 to 20 blades. The quality of the blades depends on the material used to make them (tempered steel, stainless steel, etc.). Some models allow you to replace the tines individually. The more blades and tines, the more efficient the machine.
  5. The cutting width of a scarifier should be chosen to match the size of the lawn you need to scarify. Choose a wider model to save you time and energy when working over a large area. The cutting width of a petrol scarifier will generally range from 30 to 50 cm.

Petrol scarifiers are ideal for large gardens. In fact, any outdoor space measuring over 300 m² should really be tackled with a petrol scarifier rather than an electric model.

These machines are equipped with powerful engines. This means the tines are able to get a good grip on moss and weeds while the blades have the power to chop twigs and leaves into smithereens. Please note: it's up to you to remove any stones or non-plant debris from the lawn before using a scarifier at the risk of damaging the tines or blades.

As a general rule, it's best to scarify about twice a year:

  • once in the spring before mowing the lawn;
  • once at the end of autumn to strengthen the lawn before the temperatures drop and the snow sets in.

You may, however, choose to scarify more often if you want a really impeccable lawn all year round. Here are a few tips to make your petrol scarifier perform its best:

  • only scarify slightly moist ground and never work on water-logged soil;
  • start at a depth of about 4 mm;
  • always gather any leftover plant debris after scarifying;
  • clean your machine carefully after use making sure to wash and dry all components;
  • take good care of the engine (drain the oil, change the drive belt, clean the air filter, and so on).

A good petrol scarifier should make quick work of even the largest of lawns. It should be easy to handle, straightforward to use and come with a range of practical features. Don't forget to look out for any features designed to make your machine more efficient and pleasant to use. This will only give you the guarantee of a healthy and uniform lawn!

  • Two-stroke petrol engines require a bit of maintenance, especially when it comes to the spark plug. It's important to clean the spark plug, check the electrode gap and replace the component when necessary.
  • At the end of summer, or when storing your scarifier for a long period of time, it is best to empty the oil tank to prevent deposits that could block the carburettor nozzle.
  • A two-stroke engine runs on petrol and oil; be sure to check the manufacturer's instructions to ensure you use the right ratio.
  • Lubricate the blade and tine connections and ball bearings and sharpen the blades at least once per year.
  • Clean the deck after each use making sure to disconnect the spark plug first.
  • Check that all screws are tightened properly as vibrations can cause them to come loose.

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Guide written by:

Pauline, Self-taught DIYer, Leeds, 121 guides

Pauline, Self-taught DIYer, Leeds

With a handyman-father, I grew up with the soft sound of the sander and hammer on weekends. I am both manual and cerebral (yes, it is possible), I learned the basics of DIY and the customization of furniture because I was passionate. The salvage mentality is a true way of life that allowed me to know how to use all the tools and products needed to give something a second life, from sander to varnish. I have two favorite activities: the transformation of old furniture and decoration tips. I am always ready to lend a helping hand to revamp a table or to restore a mirror that was intended for the trash that will become a friend’s centerpiece. I’m convinced that it’s possible to reinvent an interior by small, regular modifications, I constantly research low-cost, test ideas.

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