Guide to Lawn Aeration

If you own a garden, and want to plant a beautiful lawn, you’ll notice that is not so evident. The problem is that plants need air to breathe properly. A proper air circulation in the soil is a necessity for a healthy lawn, that won’t turn into a sponge the following year, or the years to come.

Basically, all you need for a beautifully green lawn is to aerate the soil by putting holes in it. These holes will

  • Keep soil clumps from becoming rock-solid masses
  • Help water to drain through the soil
  • Give fertilizers and nutrients free access to the root system
  • Allow the root system to grow
  • Allow carbon dioxide to escape from the soil

But first check if this is indeed necessary. If you can easily push your finger through the grass on your lawn to feel the soil, then aeration is not a necessity.

Small patches of lawn can already be aerated by walking over them, using a pair of spiked shoes.

Bigger lawns will need tools. The least expensive one is a manual one. This is a tool that you can use standing up. It has two or four hollow cylinders which you can plunge into the soil with your foot to extract bits of soil. Another type of manual equipment is a spiked pole that has two to four spikes that create holes in the soil. The best tool here is the one that extracts soil plugs. The tool does a very good job but is very labor intensive!

When you have this really big garden, you can better use a powered lawn aerator. Some of them even have a cup holder for your comfort and convenience. You can buy them or rent them. Lots of tool rental stores will have them for hire, and this may be better if you don’t want to invest in an expensive tool. The tool comes in spike and coring versions. If you have a choice, better use the coring version. It will remove soil to allow roots to expand. And be careful, because power aerators can be a bit large and will need some muscle to control!

As to the question of where we need to use a lawn aerator, the answer is quite simple. You use it on patches of lawn that have been worn bare due to heavy traffic over it. You can also use it on patches of lawn that yellow or brown quicker than the rest. Or on areas of lawn that show poor growth rate and may have poor root development after mowing.

The best period for aeration is spring or late summer/autumn. Arid or dry climates need aeration twice a year, in spring and in autumn. Before you start the job of aerating, take the time to water your lawn heavily – up to one inch – the day before. This will give the soil an opportunity to become soft and moist. Careful: don’t aerate on muddy soil!


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