One of the most common problems, is the build up of dead material, thatch, around the growing grass stems. If allowed to continue it can cause discolored patches, a springy layer can be felt underfoot, this is going to make it difficult for the living plants to absorb the water it needs, as well as nutrients and air and this build up makes it more prone to dieseases and insect damage.
Depending on the location of the lawn the dead mat of thatch will be mainly grass stems, maybe other garden bits and pieces too, but over time, especially in the fall, the accumulation will help mosses develop making the problem harder to tackle, but its usually at this point that the problem becomes apparent.
As the main culprit is going to be grass cuttings, a lawn mower with a cuttings box, will be the biggest help, but even so, in hot areas, or where the children perhaps put the ground through compaction or heavy wear and tear, the ground may well become too hard and the air required for the roots to thrive may become cut off, so the process described below is recommended for both problems.
It is recommended to scarify at least once and usually twice a year, depending on the extent of the problem, with a cuttings box used on your mower, the problem will not be as bad. For small lawns a rake like the one shown is fine and can be done within an hour easily. The lawn may look a little thin after the process, almost “scalped”, but that’s just the dead material raked away. It will soon look much better , once the oxygen and nutrients are able to get to the roots, with the grass growing back much stronger and thicker than before, usually within a week or two.
As with compaction ( see compaction article) regular aeration with a spiker will maintain the oxygen levels and minimise damage to growth.
Depending on the area to be worked, you might consider using a special tool for the job or just a good garden rake. A large area can be completed quickly and thoroughly using some of the specialist tools available. Like a lot of gardening , it can be hard work with general purpose tools.