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How Do I Aerate My Lawn

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  • 21-04-2022
How Do I Aerate My Lawn

How Do I Aerate My Lawn? Find out more about the benefits of Aerating a lawn and how you can do this for your garden.

What Is Lawn Aeration?

Keeping your garden space or lawn beautifully maintained isn't an easy task. It demands a consistent cycle of mowing, watering, fertilising and aerating on a regular basis to maintain a healthy patch of grass. 'Aeration' is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as "a process that allows air to act on something".

Air circulation in regards to gardening entails poking small and lengthy holes into the ground to give soil clear access to water, improve air circulation, and increase vital nutrient consumption. Lawn aeration can also penetrate dense areas of thatch (the dead layer of grass between the top lawn and soil/rooting system).

Thatch is known to create various problems like enabling rapid growth of moss, blocking fertiliser, trapping and suffocating grassroots. Not to mention thick thatch can create a breeding ground for insects, pests and lawn disease.

Essentially, the aeration of a lawn creates air pores to allow water, oxygen and nutrients to move more freely throughout the layers of earth and any compacted soil, or thatch, allowing your lawn to 'breathe'.

Aeration is especially important in more compact soil to prevent plugs, water-logging and moss growth. Aeration, in turn, improves the lawn's overall health and enables the thick and strong growth of grass.

Aeration can be completed by yourself, or for larger, commercial patches of lawn, a professional aerator can be contacted. The aerator would have access to various tools and aftercare products. 

How To Aerate Your Lawn:

The size of the lawn that requires aeration can determine the tools used to aerate. 

maller lawns can be aerated using a garden fork or automatic/manual Slitter (bladed roller), as long as the holes reach a minimum of 30mm into the ground.

For larger lawns, commercial spaces or densely compact lawns, a 'Corer' can be used; this machine removes plugs of soil around 2-3 inches to allow for drainage and aeration.

These holes can be topdressed with sand to assist water circulation.

After aerating your lawn, allow soil plugs and extra soil to dry naturally where they fall.

During rain or the next time the lawn is mowed, these lumps will break down, releasing healthy soil and organic matter to the surface.

The best time to re-seed or fertilise your lawn is right after aeration, as it creates a direct link for nutrients, oxygen and water to the roots.

Quick access from aeration enables swift seed establishment leading to lusher, thicker and healthier growth.

How Do I Aerate My Lawn?

There are two key methods for aeration, the first being 'Spiking' and the second, 'Pricking'. 

Spiking generally creates deeper holes a minimum of 3 inches (70mm); this is often used for heavily compact lawns that become noticeable waterlogged or incredibly dry during more extreme weather. The spiking method is best carried out in the Autumn months when less traffic is expected.

The second method of Pricking forms smaller and shorter holes that may not reach the compact soil layer, instead, they sit more on the surface. The holes from pricking are found closer together, often made using a Slitter. Pricking is a better option for more regular aeration during the summer months when lawn traffic is likely to be at its highest.

Why Do You Need To Aerate Your Lawn?

Most experts and avid gardeners agree that lawn aeration drastically helps improve the surface, soil and root condition. However, there is still much more to learn about the practice and its many benefits.

It's a well-known fact that air and water are essential for almost every living organism to flourish.

In regards to soil, these essential elements help to break down thatch, feed soil microorganisms and support the overall soil ecosystem.

For the grassroots to efficiently grow, efficient drainage systems and appropriate topsoil air intake are vital, and these systems can be further improved with aeration.

Successful aeration of the soil allows for gaseous exchange, releasing stale carbon dioxide and replacing it with new oxygen.

When soil is densely compacted, it deprives the grassroots of their basic needs; water, oxygen and nutrients.

Compact soil can also worsen the overall condition of the lawn during perilous weather conditions, for instance, high heat and limited rain or low heat and rain excess.

Stressful weather occurrences can take away the healthy, rich glow of the lawn and lead to grass thinning out and eventually dying.

Dead or dead-looking grass can be frustrating when neighbouring patches of grass seem to thrive, highlighting the weaker area's need for aeration.

Why Do You Need To Aerate Your Lawn?

One simple aeration session can significantly unplug the pathways needed for the essential commodities to pass through, which in turn increases the overall health of the lawn dramatically.

Your lawn area may need more regular aeration for a few reasons.

Firstly, lawns that receive more heavy than normal traffic from vehicles, kids, pets, etc., will have faster compaction rates, reducing the air and water circulation and damaging lawn health.

Sun-facing lawns are often more prone to drying out in summer and becoming waterlogged in wetter periods, so expectantly these lawns may need more regular or intense aeration sessions.

Lastly, over the colder and wetter winter months, you may notice a buildup of moss on your lawn; this is a clear sign that aeration is needed soon to avoid grass from dying.

Some key benefits from aerating your lawn are as follows:

  • Enriched lushness and brightened colours, owed to the increased nutrient intake (Oxygen, Nutrients & Water)
  • Reduce the chances of weeds, moss and lawn diseases developing.
  • Quicker recovery from heavy traffic (kids, pets, etc.)
  • Enhanced drainage systems and a significant decrease in puddling
  • When is the best time to aerate a lawn?

    There are two ideal periods in the UK to aerate a lawn, the first being in spring and the other in autumn.

    The majority of people choose to aerate their lawns in spring as this is the grass growing season, and aeration can enhance the growth of grass.

    During these two periods (spring & autumn), the soil is naturally moist but not submerged, making it easier to poke the wholes into it.

    However, UK weather is known to be unpredictable, and the best time to aerate your lawn may vary.

    If soil is excessively wet, the created holes won't allow air to circulate correctly; even worse, the holes are likely to close up owed to an excess of water, preventing water, nutrients and air from reaching the deeper soil.

    Gardeners should be wary of any upcoming frost as this can freeze the topsoil over after aeration, causing the lawn to heave up.

    Lawn heaving up basically means the soil underneath expands and pushes ground upwards, creating a lump or bump.

    When Is The Best Time To Aerate A Lawn?

    Any heaved ground can seriously affect the structural integrity of nearby buildings, and it should be looked out for and avoided when possible.

    By regularly testing for compaction and aerating your grounds, your lawn has the ability to reach its maximum potential of having a full and healthy head of hair.

    Healthy lawns allow wildlife to flourish, make your garden look aesthetically pleasing and allow for increased traffic during the 'garden weather' summer months! 

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