Aeration involves punching a series of holes in your lawn to encourage air, water and nutrients to penetrate deep into the roots of the grass creating a healthier, stronger lawn with vigorous growth and a lush green appearance. It’s easy to do (although quite time consuming if done by hand) and the advantages show almost immediately. Most lawns should be aerated every other year, or for compacted lawns with drainage problems, every year.
Lawns with clay-based soils often suffer with compaction and drainage issues and improve greatly from aeration – the water drains away from the surface and allows the roots to breathe. Lawns with heavy traffic can also suffer with compaction problems, and in these instances aerating the lawn during the autumn months will help it to recover over the winter and into the spring.
In severe cases it’s best to hire a plug aerator for the job – although don’t attempt to use the aerator while water is sitting on the surface of the lawn. Plug aerators remove a core of grass and soil from the lawn, which allows air to circulate and water to drain quickly – in effect removing the problem. On the other hand, a spike aerator uses spikes which pushes small amounts of soil deeper into the ground – this method may not resolve severe cases of compaction problems as well as a plug aerator.
To aerate with a mechanical or push aerator, simply push the machine over the lawn taking care to avoid tree roots and stones. To aerate with a garden fork, push the fork into the ground every 15cm across and 15cm deep. If your lawn is patchy, you may want to overseed with grass seed at this point to repair any patchy areas. It’s also beneficial to follow with a loam top dressing as the nutrients from the loam will penetrate deeply into the soil and grass roots, encouraging strong healthy growth.