Spring Lawn Care: How to Aerate Your Lawn

6 min read

how to aerate your lawn

Like any home space, every now and then your lawn needs a clear-out to dust off the cobwebs and keep its functions in top shape. Lawn aeration is crucial for healthy garden grass, as it allows air, water, and other nutrients to easily penetrate built-up grass and lawn thatch. When you aerate your lawn, you are essentially helping your lawn ‘breathe’, and to ensure that a good amount of oxygen and nutrients find their way into the soil, it is best to aerate your lawn before adding lawn feed.

To get the very best from your lawn all year round, it is important to aerate the soil. For a newcomer to the world of gardening, this can seem like a complex task that has many questions. How do you aerate a lawn? What are the best aeration methods? How do you hollow tine a lawn? Find out why, when and how in this article from Britain’s largest turf producer.

To get the very best from your lawn all year round it’s important to aerate the soil, and the most effective type of aeration is generally considered to be hollow tine. Hollow tine lawn aeration is the process of taking small plugs from the lawn by actively extracting the compacted soil through tubes that are driven into the turf. This allows air, water and fertiliser to penetrate the root zone.

Read on to find out how to aerate your lawn with TurfOnline today.

What does “aerate” mean and why is it necessary?

Just for a moment, compare what we do to our flower and vegetable beds and what we do to our lawn. There’s one huge difference in that the beds routinely benefit from a light dig, we add organic matter and they generally enjoy our attention to stay in great shape. When did you last remove the grass and give the soil a good workout? To get the most out of your lawn feed? Aeration is key to growing a luscious garden of green grass.

It’s simply not possible to look after the sub-lawn soil in the way it needs. And the most damaging result of this is compaction – where the soil is literally squashed, contracting in warmer weather, squeezing out vital oxygen and water.
Aerating your lawn to create narrow vertical channels for the air and rain to reach into the soil improves the growing environment for the grassroots and, crucially, increases beneficial microbial activity. Aerating a lawn ensures a longer lawn life with more even growth and healthier blades of grass.

However, this alone isn’t going to reduce the squashed effect in the soil. In fact, use the wrong tool and you make the problem worse.

Products that can help…

lawn feed

Use the right tool for the job!

You’ll probably have heard of solid-tine and hollow-tine aeration. It’s essential to understand the difference. And this also means understanding why your lawn is not the same as your local sports ground.

lawn aeration
An aerator pulls cores of soil out of the lawn and allows air and moisture to reach the plants’ roots

If you ask any golf course or stadium how they aerate their turf and you’ll probably be told: “with a solid-tine machine, a hollow tine program and a soil exchange regime, amongst others”. But no average UK gardener can aerate a lawn very often and back up those techniques with the intensive year-round care that your local stadium gets.

What tools do I need?

As its name suggests, the hollow-tine machine has hollow prongs that drive into the ground and remove the soil as plugs or cores. The solid-tine version simply forces its way into the ground; in your garden lawn, this further squashes the already compacted soil.

“But can’t I just aerate my lawn with a fork as they do on the telly?”

No! Not if you want to relieve the compaction and promote healthy roots. Aerating with a garden fork will help improve air and rain percolation, but forking a lawn won’t reduce the compaction. The garden fork is a beautiful thing – but use it for digging, not for aerating! That’s what it was designed for!

How to hollow tine a lawn

If you’re wondering about what using a hollow tine lawn aerator can bring to your garden, it takes small plugs from the lawn to allow air, water and fertiliser to penetrate to the root zone. The process of taking small plugs from the lawn to ease compaction is particularly effective at the beginning and end of the growing season. But what is the best method to hollow tine a lawn?

So you have two choices when it comes to how to use a hollow tine lawn aerator – a hollow-tine fork or a hollow-tine machine. The fork is just like a normal fork but with hollow prongs; but it is hard work! So, if you’re covering a large area it really pays to hire a machine to aerate a larger surface area at once – it’s much easier, just like walking up and down with a mower. Save the fork for those tricky corners.

A hollow tine aeration fork is a great tool to aerate a lawn and is reasonably cheap to buy.

Once you’ve aerated your lawn, just brush or rake off the cores (leaving them on the lawn can encourage disease) – but remember they’re full of goodness and can be recycled elsewhere in the garden (or even back into the lawn’s soil as explained in David Hedges-Gower’s book, Modern Lawn Care).

So, next time you’re digging over your flower beds, spare a thought for the soil that nurtures your lawn. It’s just the same as the stuff you’re digging. But because you can’t give it the same treatment, you have to use aeration to achieve the same benefits. Even just once a year will give you a noticeable improvement in the health of your lawn.

For more information about aeration and other really good things you can do for your lawn, get a copy of the book, Modern Lawn Care.

One last thing………

Always follow aeration by an application of a really good lawn feed. If you are aerating in the spring, be sure to use Vivid Green Spring/Summer Lawn Feed for maximum results during this time of year. Alternatively, if you’re in the colder autumn and winter months, we recommend using the Rejuvenator Autumn/Winter Lawn Feed.

Aerating in spring? Use Vivid Green Spring/Summer Lawn Feed

Autumn Aeration? We recommend Rejuvenator Autumn/Winter Lawn Feed

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