Guides: Lawn Care

How to Aerate a Lawn

What is Aerating?

Aerating a lawn is pretty much what it sounds like – adding air to your lawn! It is the process of punching holes into your lawn to allow air and water to reach the roots, to encourage stronger growth and reduce compaction. The aim of this is to make your lawn lush and healthy. This is basically the equivalent of when you turn over and loosen the soil in your flowerbeds but without actually doing that and destroying your lawn! 

Knowing when the Aerate

Your lawn will benefit from aeration if any of the following sound familiar:

  • Lawns which feel very spongy and dry. This is a sign of excess thatch which aeration can help.
  • Lawns that take a lot of wear and tear, particularly from children playing or pets running around. This compacts the soil. 
  • Lawns which are weak and thin with shallow roots.

The best time of year to aerate your lawn is during spring when the grass starts to grow. That way it can recover over the bare areas and the new growth will benefit the most from the extra room, and from the extra air and water that reaches the roots. Aerating is best done when the ground is damp, so if there is no rain due then water your lawn the night before you plan to do the work.  

How to Aerate a lawn

There are different approaches to aerating your lawn, but the best way is to use an aerator which removes cores. This is particularly good if compaction is an issue as it gives your lawn room to spread out whilst allowing the air and water to reach the roots. This then encourages new growth and the growth of deeper roots. Depending on the size of your garden, this can be done with a hand held hollow tine aerator or a hired powered one. 

Step 1: Add Water

Water your lawn the night before you plan to aerate it (unless rain is forecast to do it for you!)

Step 2: Time to Aerate

Use a hollow tine aerator (manual or powered) and remove plugs around 4 inches apart. You may need to go over your lawn in a couple of directions to get a good spacing. 

Step 3: Aerate Some More If Necessary...

In areas that you think are particularly compact you can take out more plugs. This may be where people often walk over the lawn such as near a washing line, or around a children’s Wendy house.

Step 4: Remove Cores

The cores that are removed can be left on the surface and will break down in time. You can go over them with your mower or break them down using a rake to speed this up. Alternatively you can take them off the lawn and compost them to make your lawn look tidier quicker.

The Result

Aerating your lawn can be a bit of a task, but it can be very beneficial particularly if the soil beneath your turf is very compact. It will allow your turf to grow healthy and strong, forming deep roots and also helping to reduce any thatch build up. Having a healthy and strong turf then reduces the appearance of weeds and moss, as the grass is strong enough to compete against them. So if your lawn is showing signs that it might benefit from aeration it may be worth giving up some time to show it a bit of TLC. You’ll appreciate the hard work when your lawn is lovely and lush and green!

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