Lawn aeration

Lawn aeration and lawn aerator

You have been looking after your lawn for years. You have made sure it gets watered, you mowed it weekly and fed it regularly, you even went a step further and scarified it twice a year, yet your lawn hasn’t reached its full potential. Dieback appears and vibrance is just not there. Well, your lawn could need aerating.


What is a lawn aerator?

A lawn aerator is a piece of equipment designed to let air into the soil by inserting small holes in the ground. It is usually found in the form of a roller operated either manually or by the engine. The two types of aerator are:


  • Solid tine aerator
  • Hollow tine aerator

Solid tine lawn aerator

A solid tine aerator (or spike aerator) allows spikes to enter the soil by creating a hole. It is generally recommended for a small lawn not suffering from abuse of heavy machinery. As the soil in small areas tends to be less compact, the single solid holes suffice to improve aeration and drainage.

Aerating roller
Aerating roller

Hollow tine lawn aerator 

The hollow tines on the aerator serve to extract thatch and compacted soil from the lawn. This aerator is beneficial to large private or communal lawns maintained by heavy machineries such as garden tractors or ride-on mower. By creating larger holes, excess debris is deposited onto the lawn and will need to be removed.

Hollow tine lawn aerator
Hollow tine lawn aerator

What other alternatives can I use? 

To aerate your lawn, you can use simple garden tools such as a fork. Insert fork prongs into the soil approximately four inches deep and repeat every 4-6 inches. It is a labour demanding job, but the results are worth it. Lawn aerating shoes are also available to purchase but you would need to walk miles to aerate the entire lawn. Truthfully, hiring an aerator is a viable option as may only need it twice a year.

Aerating shoes
Aerating shoes

If you have an irrigation system installed in the lawn, ensure to mark the sprinkles first to prevent any damage and avoid inserting the fork prongs as deep as to punch holes in the pipes. Any damage to your irrigation system will lead to costly repair or replacement. 


When to use the lawn aerator 

Realistically, you only need to use a lawn aerator twice a year, once in the spring and once in the autumn. We recommend aerating the lawn just after the scarification.  


What are the benefits of lawn aeration? 

  • Supply of oxygen to the soil 
  • Soil drainage improvement 
  • Diversion of additional nutrients to the soil 

Supply of oxygen to the soil 

All the plants, including grasses in the lawn, need oxygen to survive and to thrive. This also applies to the soil. The topsoil is home to microorganisms and earthworms, the essential organisms maintaining optimal health of the soil. The micro bacteria and earthworms are responsible for the soil breakdown, which in turn results in the release of nutrients currently suppressed due to compacted soil structure. The oxygen is vital to help the organisms to thrive and multiply.

Healthy soil contains a large amount of micro bacteria
Healthy soil contains a large amount of micro bacteria

Soil drainage improvement 

When the soil is compressed down using machinery and heavy foot trafficking, the ability for water to enter the soil is greatly reduced due to the harder structure of topsoil. This could cause water build-up in the form of puddles or during heavy rainfall. In the hot summer months, water often evaporates before it can enter the soil. On sloped lawns, the water normally runs off. This can be hugely improved by soil aeration. 


Soil aeration in the spring directs water deeper into the soil and ensures that the grass roots are watered on all levels, preventing dieback and shallow rooting. 


In the winter, the lawn often becomes waterlogged as compressed soil contains tiny air pockets unable to accommodate excess water. Holes created by lawn aerators will divert the water deeper into the soil and will drain faster, therefore reducing  the paddles.

Waterlogging can be improved by aeration
Waterlogging can be improved by aeration

Diversion of additional nutrients to the soil 

Lawn feed is generally granule based and needs to fully dissolve in water to enter the soil. Undissolved organic matter helps thatch build-up. Thatch is unwanted matter sitting on the top of topsoil, disabling air and water entry. Thatch can be removed by scarification. 

Holes punched in by aerators divert organic matter to the soil where the roots can benefit from it. 


Lawn aerator can be an important addition to your garden tool shed. Its benefits are enormous, and its used can make the difference between vibrant and suffering lawn. 

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