Scaryfied to death!

“Why is he still outside?” I asked. “He’s been out there ages.”

“He’s scarifying the lawn.”

I had never heard the term scarifying before, and it sounded absolutely terrifying.  I had images of my friend jumping out on the lawn shouting “Boo!” or running around with a sheet over his hard pretending to be a ghost or member of the Ku Klux Klan.  I wasn’t sure of the botanical benefits of such an activity, but I am about as far from green-fingered as it is possible to be (brown fingered?), so how would I know?

As it turns out, my assumptions were completely wrong.  Scarifying is merely the process of getting dead stuff off the the grass by poking it repeatedly.  In fact, it would be fair to say that it is possibly the least scary activity on the planet.  Unless someone has hidden land mines in your garden, which would admittedly up the adrenaline levels a notch or two.  Thinking about it, I would actually pay good money to watch someone scarify a minefield.

It got me thinking about the person that came up with this name for the activity of “clearing up dead shit off the grass”.  They were obviously trying to sex it up a bit.  Or possibly even trying to impress a woman.  Women are well-known for reacting positively to men who thrive in dangerous situations; firemen, secret agents, inner-city schoolteachers etc. so what better way of making your potentially dull vocation sound more exciting than by giving one of it’s more boring activities a dangerous sounding name?

The more I think about it, the more I think these professional gardeners might just be geniuses.


  1. Jaggy · January 20, 2009

    I thought being brown fingered was a result of being too tight to buy decent toilet paper?

  2. Lin · January 20, 2009

    They use demining dogs now. Would they be brown pawed?

  3. Keef · January 20, 2009

    I honestly thought your friend had made that word up, I’ve never heard of scarifying your lawn before never mind done it, but I did a GIS search and to my surprise it’s a real term.
    The fact that my lawn hasn’t died despite 17 years of not being scarified leads me to believe that there must be a threshold of the amount of dead stuff needed before it has any effect. So what’s the threshold I wonder, dead grass, dead leaves and insects, dead rodents, dead people, dead elephants? I can imagine that a deceased pachyderm lying on your front lawn would be bad for the grass since it would take forever to tread in, the neighbours would probably start complaining about the smell after a while anyway and it would be a hell of a job to get it into the brown wheelie bin to be recycled.

  4. Misty · January 20, 2009

    I have scarified my lawn from time to time.

    Keef – I had to google ‘pachyderm’ though!

  5. Megan · January 20, 2009

    I’ve only heard scarifying used as ‘making people cry by pointing out the obvious about their abilities, physical appearance and life choices.’ I’m quite disappointed to hear that’s not what your friend was doing to his lawn. I think we call that ‘de-thatching’ which doesn’t sound nearly so impressive but is, quite likely, kinder to the vegetation.

  6. Mr Angry · January 20, 2009

    Jaggy – I don’t want to have to go down that whole scrunch or wipe debate all over again…

    Lin – They train dogs for that? I’ve always wondered why they don’t use really heavy rats.

    Keef – Learning a word and then teaching us one. Good stuff.

    Misty – Did you dress up for it?

    Megan – We use de-thatching to refer to the 1990 Conservative Party leadership election.

  7. Misty · January 20, 2009

    Angry – If you knew me you would know any excuse to dress up! I was in full pagan costume.

  8. paul · January 20, 2009

    “or running around with a sheet over his hard”

    Did you mean head, or did you miss out the word “on”? Either way, I’d be scarified by him.

  9. Mr Angry · January 20, 2009

    Paul – Hmmm. It was supposed to be ‘head’ but I like your version better.

  10. Sewmouse · January 20, 2009

    Or maybe adding a U for the UK “Aueireating?”
    Putting in holes so air gets in?
    My spelling is not good this afternoon.

    De-thatching and whatever it is I am talking about above is what we used to do to the lawn. One of the guys down the street used to mow the lawn wearing football cleats to poke holes in the ground to air-eee-ate…

    I have no dictionary or spellchecker to hand just now. Sorry.

  11. wolf · January 20, 2009

    I wonder what would happen if you just headed outside and yelled at your lawn. You know, made it feel small and insignificant.

    Would that be lawn abuse, perhaps? Worse than scarifying?

  12. Oli · January 20, 2009

    “The more I think about it, the more I think these professional gardeners might just be geniuses.”

    If they were geniuses they would use a rake.

  13. craigaroonie · January 20, 2009

    A bit late.
    A machine can be hired that removes a plug of soil from the lawn, about three inches long and as thick as a fat pencil. For aeration purposes.
    That is scarifying – not scraping dead stuff.
    Some people use a garden fork, or special spikes that strap onto the bottom of your boots, but the machine is the go.
    Afterwards it looks like a million rabbits have pooped on your lawn.
    The holes let in air, and you can add water and fertilizer. Your lawn will be most appreciative and greenerer.
    Looking too closely down the holes is brown-nosing.