Air is vital to everything that lives - and plants are no different, including grass! The problem with using a lawn aerator is that we don't see the benefits of this process quickly like we do with typical treatments. The process of lawn aeration (lawn spiking) delivers medium to long term benefits to your lawn. Lawn Aeration and Drainage The obvious benefit which homeowners can visualise clearly is surface drainage. By making holes in the turf, it is assumed that water will enter soils quicker, and improve drainage. This isn't always the case as if aerating with a solid tine (spike) with no heave (lift) to the soil, the spike in the wrong conditions may only serve to compact the surrounding soil and the base of the hole. The problem is quite literally being pushed around your soil. This doesn't mean to say that there is no impact or benefit - just one which is limited in many cases.
Lawn Aeration and Root Development
Grass roots do not grow in soil - they grow in air pockets within the soil. A healthy soil should be made up of 40-50% air in the form or macro and micro pores. By spiking the lawn, we encourage roots downwards and in greater mass. With this in mind, it is important that we aerate to a good depth, and to varying depths as to not create a shallow pan of roots. A dense root mass will serve your lawn well through good growing conditions, but also aid your lawn through tougher periods of weather, such as drought conditions. Lawn Aeration and Nutrient Availability Although we apply professional fertilisers to add the required nutrients to lawns, these nutrients are already present in lower quantities. In clay soils, these nutrients can hold in the soil for a long time before leeching out. Why is this important? If we are able to aerate, your lawn is able to access tonnes of untapped soil. A relatively small 100m2 lawn, through aerating 1cm deeper than before can access an additional 10 tonnes of soil - let that one sink in for a second! On the relatively clay-heavy soils that we work on, there is ample potassium and phosphorous and magnesium present in the soil, it's just not being accessed. can be argued that lawn aeration is a form of recycling! Aeration FAQ's Can I aerate a wet lawn? A wet lawn in terms of a wet surface is no problem to aerate. A wet lawn in terms of a wet soil is likely to cause more compaction than it solves as touched on above. It's good to have a level of moisture in the soil in order for machinery to gain the best possible depth, but a 100kg+ machine on a wet soil (x3 the weight of a typical lawn mower) is a bad move for the health of your lawn.
When is the best time to aerate a lawn? Lawn aeration can be completed much of the year round in the correct soil conditions and with the correct tines (spikes). As above, there may be difficulty with getting on a very wet or very dry lawn to make the impact that you wish. Spring or autumn may provide the best soil conditions but in an age of global warming nothing should be taken off the table! We enjoy the months of October, November and late February for the majority of our aeration work. How to aerate a lawn?
A garden fork is not a lawn aeration tool. As mentioned, it is very easy to compact surrounding soils. Excessively lifting the soil with a fork is also not recommended as this will work to damage roots solidified within the soil - tearing roots away from their home.
Small drum style hand pushed aerators, or aerator shoes are better than nothing, but will only make up to maybe 2" holes (50mm) in your lawn. You could hire a machine to carry out the work, but after the cost of which, transport, and completing the work in the correct conditions, you would be better served in contacting a professional. Many lawn care services are able to include aerations within their lawn care programmes if be standalone, with a standard treatment, or within a lawn renovation while scarifying and overseeding the lawn.
Hollow or solid-tine aeration?
As can be viewed below, there are two types of aerator tine (spike) used in lawn care being solid and hollow. A solid tine is just that - a solid spike which goes into the ground. A hollow-tine works by removing small cores (also known as core aeration) from lawns, thereby removing a level of bulk density and thatch. Aerator tines come on all manner of shapes and sizes for differing benefits. We can recommend the best course of action at the time of your first lawn treatment. We possess a range of machines to bring poor lawns up to scratch through our renovation work, and through aerating formal lawns an annual basis alongside our Annual Lawn Care Treatment Programme.