Keeping your lawn in good condition can be a struggle, but one of the ways to try and help it is aerating it. A lawn and its soil can become compacted over time, reducing its capability to grow. Most of the time this is unavoidable because it is caused by people simply walking on it. Lawn aerating is a way of allowing nature to do its job, giving your lawn the best chance to grow to its full potential. But, how do you do it and when should you aerate your lawn in the UK?
What is lawn aeration?
Lawn aeration is the process of putting holes in the soil of your lawn with the goal of allowing more air, water and nutrients to be absorbed by it. This separates the soil resulting in more space for these elements to have an impact. With this space the roots of the grass will grow deeper and the blades will grow fuller as they get all the nutrients they need, resulting in a stronger lawn. Soil that is too compact might not allow this to happen.
How to aerate your lawn
So how is this possible? Do you just stick garden fork in the grass? Well yes, you can, but there are more effective ways to aerate your lawn. There are actually two main tools used to aerate a lawn, a plug aerator and a spike aerator. The former will remove a section of the soil by “unplugging” it and our method of doing this at Perfect Lawn Care is called Hollow Tine Aeration. It creates large holes for the natural process to happen.
The spike aerator creates a larger amount of smaller holes by simply “spiking“ it in many places. It would be a similar process to “forking” it, but the tool is designed specifically for that purpose. You might be wondering what the cost of tools like this are, but you can actually rent them, meaning you don’t have to invest in one long term. Hollow Tine or plug aerating actually removes the section of soil while spike aerators just create holes by moving the soil down/to the side. Spikes can be about 3 inches deep, although this can vary whereas plug aerator chunks can be slightly shallower, often about 2 inches, while also being about half an inch wide.
Although the spike aerator can be effective, it does actually have the potential to create additional compaction around the created holes. This is why we think that a plug aerator is more often than not the way to go.
To use the tools properly and aerate effectively, begin by cutting the grass to a short length. Ideally you also want the soil to be as moist as possible. This is because it will be more likely to make the most of the available space rather than remaining compacted. When using the plug aerator, remove sections of soil before spreading them over the lawn afterwards.
When to aerate your lawn
As previously alluded to, you want the soil to be moist, so the best time would preferably be following a good rainfall. This means that you should aerate during the time of year where it rains. During the spring or autumn would probably fall in this category. If you aerate in the summer when the ground isn’t as moist, it will still reduce compactness. It may not necessarily be beneficial to the growth of the roots, which would be the case in the wetter months, but it should still have a positive impact if you choose to do it at that time of year.
How often should you aerate?
Not as often as you might think. Most people recommend that you don’t leave it longer than three years before aerating. We’d say every 1-3 years would be good enough to conduct any type of full aeration. You don’t want to do it too much more regularly than this as your lawn could become too disjointed.
If you don’t want to rent your own equipment or are still unsure of how to do it properly, why not get in contact with us and we can aerate your lawn for you.