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Do I Need A Lawn Aerator?

Written by MowDirect on 27-Feb-2017 12:20:38

Lurking beneath the surface of what might at first glance appear to be a perfectly normal lawn are hidden problems, just waiting to emerge and spoil your day. A lawn aerator might be what you need to remedy the issue. 

Problems like a build up of thatch, overly compacted soil and lack of moisture can occur. All these things can stop you from achieving a beautiful and lush lawn.

If soil is too compact, or you have thatch or other organic debris on your lawn then the lawn and its roots will not get nutrients, water and oxygen they need.  

How Do I Know If My Lawn Is Suffering From These Problems?

All lawns can become compacted to a certain degree and, therefore, can benefit from aeration. However, these problems are most likely to be serious under the following sort of circumstances: 

  1. If your lawn gets very heavy use. For example, if you have children and their friends playing football or rolling around on it. Or, if you and your children exercise pets on the lawn. Or, perhaps it was recently laid down as part of a garden project and builders, wheelbarrows and other traffic have been moving over it. This sort of activity can cause serious compaction.
  2. If your lawn is on a slope. This means some of the moisture from watering or rain water could run off it, often before it gets a chance to soak in. Opening it up through aeration will give more chance for the water to get into the lawn.
  3. If you live in an area with particularly heavy clay soil. These types of soil are highly prone to compaction.
  4. If your lawn takes an unusually long time to dry out. This can mean compaction is not allowing drainage.
  5. If your lawn has brown patches or is particularly spongy. This can mean you have an excess of thatch. However, it is best to check by taking a grass sample first, down to soil level and a good couple of inches. If there is more than half a centimeter or so, you have too much thatch.

Using a good lawn aerator is one of best ways of tackling these problems, as it will allow air, water and nutrients to get into the soil and, therefore, into the roots of the grass. This enables the roots to grow stronger and penetrate deeper into the soil so your lawn becomes more robust and healthy, and subsequently more vibrant and lush.

Exactly What Is Aerating?

What needs to be done to maintain your lawn’s health is to open up the turf in some way, creating holes or slits in the turf and/or soil.  This is what aerating is, literally “letting air in.”

It can be carried out with a rake or even a garden fork, but this method of aerating is laborious, particularly if you have a larger lawn or lawns, and is also potentially harmful to your back. Also, unless you are meticulous with your hole spacing the results can be rather haphazard.

What Is The Best Method Of Aerating?

A dedicated mechanical aerator is probably the best way to carry out this task. This type of machine uses metal tines, or blades, to punch small, regularly spaced holes into the turf and the soil.

What Type Of Aerators Are Available?

Aerators can be hand-propelled, towed or self-propelled, and can be petrol-, electric-, manual- or battery-powered and come in two main styles. 

  1. Solid Tine Aerators
  2. Hollow Tine Aerators

What Are The Main Differences Between Solid And Hollow Tine Aerators?

A solid tine aerator, quite simply, cuts or pokes holes into the lawn and the soil beneath; whereas, a hollow tine aerator digs in and removes a plug or core of soil and turf, leaving a larger hole and more space for the water, nutrients and air to penetrate.

Solid tine aerators can be broken down into spike or slit aerators, depending on the shape of the tines. Slit aerators usually penetrate slightly deeper and will also cut the roots back a little as they work.  

Solid tine aerators are generally cheaper than the hollow tine variety and are generally easier to use as they do not need so much weight to penetrate the soil.

Solid tine aerators are often seen as a more temporary solution and will probably have to be used more often than the hollow tine versions.

Hollow tine aerators are frequently preferred as they create more space and allow more water and air into the soil.

Hollow tine aerators will also remove a great deal of thatch, which a solid tine aerator does not really do. They are more effective than solid tine models when soil is very heavily compacted and can help improve drainage when needed.

Hollow tine aerators are at their most effective when the ground is moist, as the soil holds together better and more soil is removed in each plug. 

Should I Leave The Plugs On The Lawn?

It is worth noting that, although some claim the plugs of earth created by a hollow tine aerator act as natural fertiliser if left on the lawn, they can actually lead to more thatch and weeds, can mess up your mower and some gardeners also find them very unsightly, so it is probably better for the lawn to rake them up. They can always be put on your compost heap if you want to get use out of them.

So if you want to truly get the best out of your lawn, keep it lush and verdant and make sure it stays consistently healthy and vigorous, the answer is simple. 

Yes. Bought, borrowed or hired, if you care about your lawn you do need a lawn aerator.


Written by MowDirect

MowDirect is an authorised Hayter dealer. They have been selling lawn mowers online since 1999.

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