Aeration can be carried out at any time of year providing the ground is not frozen, water-logged or too dry and hard. Autumn is the optimum time to do it or it can be done during early spring to rejuvenate your lawn after the winter. A bit of love and attention in the form of aeration will help your lawn recover from dry summer conditions and general wear and tear. Aeration is a key part in keeping any lawn in good condition and we recommend it’s carried out regularly. It’s also a good idea to carry it out in combination with other autumn renovation treatments such as scarification and over-seeding. When these processes are done together the new lawn seed will be able to get good soil contact in the holes and is therefore more likely to germinate successfully.
Core aeration is the process of mechanically removing thousands of small deep cores of subsurface thatch and soil from your lawn to allow oxygen, nutrients and water to penetrate deep into the root zone. Spiking does a great job and will not be too disruptive; on the other hand core aeration has the added benefit of displacing sub-surface thatch. This can be beneficial on very ‘thatchy’ lawns as it root-prunes as it displaces the core. You really can’t aerate your lawn too much, so if you have time and want to enjoy the last of the summer weather, this process can be done as often as you want.
How do the pro’s do it?
Specialist machines can carry out solid or hollow tine aeration depending on the type of soil you have. Lawn aeration can be carried out with hollow tines (core aeration) or solid tines (spiked aeration). There is much debate in the turf industry on which is most beneficial, but either process is better than doing nothing. The deeper you can aerate, the better it will be. You can carry out solid tine aeration in situations where hollowtine aeration might not be appropriate, for example on heavy clay soil where lots of cores left on the surface could be problematic or in situations where quick recovery is essential.
How can I do it?
If you have a small lawn (or lots of time) you can easily carry out this process with a garden fork. The key thing is to do lots of holes and try to make sure they are as deep as possible – we recommend at least 125mm deep. If you are going to aerate with a machine then ideally use the services of a company such as Lawntech who will provide the service at a cost effective price, using the best professional machinery.
What are the benefits?
- Relieves soil compaction
- Releases toxic chemicals
- Increases biological activity
- Root prunes
- Helps water penetration
- Assists nutrient efficiency
- Improves surface drainage
- Allows air into the root zone
- Penetrates sub surface thatch
- Reduces moss infestation
The diagram below illustrates a lawn before, immediately after and 8 – 10 weeks after aeration:
Here are our top ten tips for autumn aeration:
- Make use the ground is soft before you try to aerate, if not it will be hard work and will wear you and your machinery out rather quickly. If conditions are too dry, water the lawn first.
- Check for underground hazards such as electric cables or irrigation pipes before you aerate.
- When aerating with a garden fork or hand held aeration tool make sure you penetrate as deep as you can, at least 125 – 150mm for best results. Only do a small area at a time to avoid those hand blisters.
- Check the lawn condition before you aerate. If it has a high level of thatch you should consider scarifying before you aerate and then you could apply over-seed after the aeration to help it recover.
- If you intend hiring a machine be sure to shop around for a good heavy duty one which is likely to aerate deep and produce lots of holes. Machines which only aerate a couple of inches deep are not so effective.
- When you aerate carry out more than one pass with the machine if conditions allow.
- If your lawn easily tears up when you try to aerate check for Chafer Grubs or Leather Jackets which may have weakened the root structure of the lawn.
- Choose which type of method is right for your lawn, spike or core. Heavy clay soils can be hollow-tined but the cores will certainly need clearing off afterwards however cores left on the surface of sandy or chalky lighter soils should readily break down and melt back into the sward. If your lawn does not have too much sub-surface thatch then spiking should be adequate and will be tidier immediately afterwards.
- If your lawn is uneven or the sward is very thin then you could consider brushing-in a sand & loam top dressing and over-seeding, (much easier to let Lawntech do it but also available from the lawnstore.co.uk), after you have aerated which will assist seed germination and will iron out any minor imperfections on the surface of the lawn.
- Always consider asking a professional company to analyse your lawn before you go ahead with any mechanical treatments as they could let you know exactly what would be the most appropriate renovation treatments for your lawn.
You can also see how Lawntech do it in our video at https://www.lawn-tech.co.uk/lawn-aeration/.