If you wish to maintain a healthy lawn over the years you will benefit from using a lawn aerator to help with lawn aeration. Lawn aeration is the process of creating holes (or cores or slits) in the soil the lawn is grown on to reduce soil compaction. It is essential to aerate compacted lawns as it allows oxygen into the soil which is vital for root growth and also allows carbon dioxide that inhibits water uptake by roots to escape from the soil.
A lawn aerator can have either soild or hollow spikes or ‘tines’. Solid tines such as those of a garden fork can be used as a lawn aerator and reach depths of at least 3 inches. Hollow tined lawn aerators actually remove a core or ‘plug’ of turf and soil from the lawn and are sometimes known as Core lawn aerators.
Motorised lawn aerators are also available and these can be invaluable if you need to aerate a large area as they will do a lot of the hard work for you and save you a good deal of time. You can hire motorised lawn aerators from some tool hire outlets and garden centres. However if you are planning to do your lawn aerating at a popular time of year it can be advisable to book the aerator in advance – Spring and autumn bank holidays are often booked up. If your lawn is prone to compaction and you have a good sized lawn then you may want to invest in your own motorised aerator.
Why do we need a lawn aerator?
By using a lawn aerator on compacted soils we provide the following benefits:
- Allow oxgen into the soil giving healthy grass roots
- Better soil drainage – water can filtrate to greater soil depths promoting healthy root system and greater resistance to drought
- Allow carbon dioxide to escape from the soil
- Prevent loss of fertilisers from surface run off
Where do I need to use a lawn aerator?
Areas of lawn that need aerating will usually give off warning signals that include
- patches of lawn that have been worn bare of any grass due to heavy traffic.
- A tendency for the lawn to yellow / brown quicker than other areas of the lawn when dry conditions occur – this can indicate water infiltration into the soil and poor root development
- Areas of the lawn that show poor growth rates and lack of vigour after mowing may have compacted soil and poor root development.
When should I aerate the lawn?
You should only aerate the lawn if deemed necessary – see the guide to lawn aeration for more information on evaluating the need for aeration. You should use your lawn aerator in autumn or spring. September is is a common time for using core lawn aerators.
If you are going to feed the lawn with fertiliser in the same year as aerating the lawn then it is best to aerate the lawn first so the fertiliser and water can penetrate into the soil with ease. Fertiliser can run off a compacted soil without being utilised by the lawn.