Lawn Care

How to Aerate Your Lawn

Lawns within the UK can often become dry, compacted, and lifeless. In order to bring life back to your lawns, aeration can loosen up the soil, allowing nutrients to pass through and new seeds to start growing. In this look at how to aerate a lawn, we’ll cover the importance of aeration and the different methods available, from garden forks to mechanical aerators. Which method is right for you will vary depending on a couple of factors, such as budget and time commitment.

What is Lawn Aeration?

Lawn aeration involves making a series of small holes within your lawn, designed to allow oxygen, water and nutrients to penetrate into the soil. These holes can be made in several ways, such as manually with a manual aeration tool or using a professional aerating machine. Aerating is recommended for those looking for a consistent and healthy lawn.

Why is it Important to Aerate Your Lawn?

The main reason for aerating a lawn is to maintain the health of the soil, ensuring that it is receiving an adequate level of air and water at the grass roots of your lawn. It can also help to improve compacted soil that has been heavily used through walking or through the use of a ride-on mower. 

Aeration will also reduce thatch on your grass, a name for the coating of dead grass that can build up on the surface of your lawn, by allowing more nutrients through. Lastly, aerating can make it easier to grow grass, with the seeds better able to penetrate your soil. For root growth, new seeds, and the general health of your grass, aeration can bring tremendous benefits.

When to Aerate Your Lawn

There are two ideal times to aerate a lawn, during the spring or autumn growing seasons. This will ensure that your grass is receiving the ideal amount of nutrients, and also that your freshly planted grass seeds have the best chance of growth. Aerating in the summer can be difficult due to dry soil, and it can be difficult in the winter due to solid and frozen soil. The frequency with which you should aerate your lawn will vary based on the quality of your soil, with solid clay soil probably requiring yearly aeration, while sandy soils can be aerated every couple of years. 

There are other factors, such as heavy compression from foot traffic, that will mean aeration is necessary more often. After aeration, it’s important to avoid removing plugs and the holes left in your lawn.

How to Aerate a Lawn

When aerating your lawn you will essentially be looking to make consistent small holes across it. This can be accomplished via three main methods, using an aeration tool, using aeration sandals, or using a specialist machine. There are also a few things that must be done to your lawn before you can begin aeration.

Before You Aerate Your Lawn

In order to prepare your lawn for aeration there are a couple of key steps to take. You should mow your lawn to a low height within the preceding days. You should also scarify your lawn if there is a significant level of thatch. These two processes will ensure thorough aeration and also that your lawn can fully benefit from being aerated. It is beneficial to aerate on days where your soil is somewhat moist, such as days after it has rained.

Aerating by Hand Using Tools

There are a variety of hand tools that can be used to aerate a lawn without a machine, from a garden fork to dedicated aeration equipment. When aerating with a fork or other hand tool you will need to cover the length of your lawn, making consistent holes every 10cm or so. You should be looking to penetrate your soil by around 12 to 15cm. Aerating using hand tools will be very tiring, and many gardeners may wish to opt for a less intensive method, especially on larger lawns.

How to Aerate Your Lawn Using Aeration Sandals

Another option used by many, despite their slightly unorthodox look, is the aeration sandal. These are plastic soles, attached to shoes with straps, that feature sharp metal spikes beneath, to easily aerate your lawn through walking. This will be a considerably less intensive process than with a fork, allowing you to simply walk around your garden. For those without a machine, this will offer a great alternative.

Using an Aeration Machine

a man raking grass clippings with a scarifier on the side

An option for those looking for commercial lawn care, or those with large private gardens, aeration machines are available, looking much like a lawnmower, and allowing you to easily aerate the entirety of a lawn. This process is sometimes called core aeration. While investing in a machine for a gardening task you will likely complete once a year may not be financially justifiable for many gardeners, an aerating machine will offer an even and consistent level of holes within a lawn. You can also hire a lawn care company to perform a lawn aeration service, which will offer full coverage of all soil, supporting root growth and a healthy lawn. If you are only looking to aerate every few years, hiring a professional could lead to lower aeration costs than buying a full machine. According to Checkatrade, the average cost of professional lawn aeration will be around £90. Aerating and scarifying can also be combined within one service. 

How Long Does it Take to Aerate a Lawn?

This will depend hugely on the method you are using to aerate, with an aeration machine unlikely to take more than an hour to fully aerate an average lawn. There will be a much larger time commitment for manual methods like using a fork, which could well take the best part of a day.

Our Range of Gardening Tools

Sims Garden Machinery offers a huge range of gardening tools and equipment for sale across the UK. For those looking to aerate their lawn, we offer manual tools like gardening forks, alongside mechanical options, such as the Cobra SA40E Electric Scarifier and Aerator, offering an affordable home method to more easily maintain a beautiful lawn. Explore our full range of quality gardening equipment through our website today.

If looking to maintain the perfect lawn, we also have a four-season guide to lawn care, alongside a guide to the best times of year to scarify a lawn.

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