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When to Aerate My Lawn?

Date posted: 11 December 2014

Aeration improves your lawn's ability to access oxygen-rich air through its root system – helping it to grow better and have greater resilience.

The actual process of aeration involves perforating the surface of your lawn using spikes.

aerator hire

 At a basic level, this could simply involve you repeatedly making holes in the surface using a garden fork – although this is not the most efficient approach, and with a very compacted lawn it could be practically impossible. Instead, most gardeners – whether domestic or professional – choose to use specialist yet very affordable aerators to carry out the job. These can be either manual or powered/mechanical – taking most of the hard work out of the task.

Why aerate your lawn?

Soil compaction is the main problem that can be tackled by aerating your lawn. This is when the soil is too solid, preventing the proper circulation of air, water and nutrients needed by your grass. Grass suffering from compaction may become yellow and patchy.

Aeration boosts root growth and strength by enabling the roots to grow more deeply. As a result, your lawn is more likely to thrive and cope with harsher weather and heavy use.

Many lawns need aerating once a year or more, and this is likely if the grass is used as a play area (e.g. for football) or for running (pets or children!). Aeration is also necessary if your lawn dries out easily and has a springy feel, as this is often caused by a build-up of thatch/debris which will also prevent air penetrating the soil and reaching the grassroots. Finally, if your lawn was established by sod it is likely to have soil layering, which becomes a problem because the top finer texture soil (which comes along with the imported sod) lies above the old coarser soil, keeping most of the water at the top rather than letting it drain down to the roots.  Aerating helps to break up the layers and prevent compaction so that water can flow down to the grassroots more easily.

How do I aerate my lawn?

Rather than struggling to punch holes in your lawn with a pitchfork, try to get hold of a proper lawn aerator – these are readily available for hire from tool hire centres. A powered (electric or other) hollow tine aerator is probably the most efficient solution because it removes little 'plugs'[ of earth as it moves along, which is ideal when you are dealing with compaction problems. Cheaper manual aerators are also available, often fitted with solid spikes which just poke a hole into the earth – these will generally be okay if you are just carrying out general lawn maintenance rather than tackling compaction issues.

Try to aerate the lawn when the soil is moist, either just after some rain or after you have watered (although not when the earth is drenched!). Make several passes over the lawn to ensure it is well aerated. Healthy areas with no compaction will not need to be covered.
If you are using a hollow tine you can leave the soil plugs to dry on the surface then break them up by running a lawnmower over the grass or hitting them with the back of a garden rake.

When should I aerate my lawn?

Aeration can be carried out at any time of year except when it is icy (the ground will be frozen and the tines won't penetrate) or during a drought (again, the earth will be solid and the job will be difficult or impossible).

The best time to aerate your lawn is when it is relatively moist and cool, and the grass is growing and therefore able to recover better – filling in the open holes created by the aerator.

Related Articles

How to Aerate a Lawn

What is a Lawn Aerator

How to change lawn aerator tines on the Camon LA20

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