Why Lawn Scalping Should Be Included In Spring Yard Prep


“Scalping” is a term many homeowners may not be familiar with. Don’t worry – this doesn’t involve blood and guts! It means mowing your lawn at a much lower setting than you normally would. While it may seem counterintuitive, this process, along with other steps we’ll discuss, is a vital step for prepping your warm-season grass for the spring and beyond.

What Is Lawn Scalping?

lawn scalping example

Scalping is the removal of the dormant leaf blades. This allows the new growth to establish without the thatch or other organic residue getting in the way. Lawns that are scalped and de-thatched before April 1st each year will be the first to green up. Lawns that are not scalped and bagged before April 1st will be 6-10 weeks behind.

How To Scalp A Lawn

Equipment Needed

  • Lawnmower with bagger attachment
  • Leaf rake or thatch rake
  • Lawn and leaf bags
  • Blower – optional
  • Weedeater/line trimmer
  • Eye protection
  • Gloves
  • Allergy medicine – if you are prone to grass-related allergies

Before you scalp your lawn, you’ll need to determine which type of warm-season grass you have. This will determine which height to set your mower to.


  • Scalp height 1/4″ or lower.
  • Scalp, de-thatch, and bag lawn before April 1 every year
  • Don’t mulch clipping
  • Rake and bag all clippings
  • Mow lawn as short as possible without disturbing the soil

St. Augustine – scalp height 1/2 – 1.”
Zoysia – 1/2 – 1.”

Note: the more level your lawn is, the lower you can scalp it.

Once you’ve set your mower, you can begin scalping. Your lawn may seem very bare, but don’t worry – it’s supposed to. As you’ll see in the video below, scalping creates more leaf clippings than you’re used to. With only a few passes, your mower bag will be full so keep that in mind when scalping. Also, make sure to do this a day or two, at the most, before trash pickup. Even smaller yards can wrack up quite the number of leaf bags. You should expect to get 5 – 7 full lawn and leaf bags for every 1,000 square feet of lawn.

If your lawn has a lot of thatch build-up, you may need to go over what you’ve scalped with a rake or thatch rake. Do not mulch the clippings back into the soil, or you will defeat the purpose.

Note: Do not scalp into the green runners (stolons) of St. Augustine grass!

Scalping Best Practices

When To Scalp

Scalping is most effective if done between February and April 1st.

Be Gentle

Especially on shaded areas and especially with St. Augustine grass.

Scalping And Weed Control

If you applied a pre-emergent weed control, make sure it’s thoroughly watered in before you scalp and bag. If you do not allow the weed control to be watered in, it could affect the weed control’s efficacy. You can also apply weed control after your spring scalp and bag.

Keep Up With Mower Maintenance

Scalping takes a toll on mower blades, so be sure to have them sharpened after performing a scalp and bag.

Post-Scalping Spring Lawn Care

So you’ve scalped your lawn. Now what? Sometimes, with all the thatch removed, you may find that your soil is too compacted to apply lawn seeding, or overseeding. If that’s the case, you may need an aeration treatment. Aeration, also known as core aeration, can be performed either with a specialized machine or through liquid aeration. This process creates hundreds of tiny pockets in your soil to allow water, sunlight, air, and nutrients to penetrate beneath the surface and reach the roots of your grass. At Gro Lawn, we offer lawn aeration services that can easily be added on after a scalping treatment.

Trust The Pros At Gro Lawn For All Your Lawn Maintenance

The experts at Gro Lawn will revitalize your warm-season grass and get it back to looking its best! Our menu of lawn care services includes aeration, as well as multi-step lawn care programs tailored to the needs of specific grass varietals. For tips on lawn care, pest control and prevention, and caring for trees and shrubs, don’t forget to check out our blog! For the latest deals and instructional videos, be sure to like our FacebookTwitter, and Youtube channel!

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