Grass roots need space below the surface to absorb water, nutrients and oxygen. Aerating your lawn helps the grass ‘breathe’ and stay healthy. It helps the lawn flourish whilst also protecting against common problems due to soil compaction: drainage issues, bare patches, weeds, dryness, fungal disease and more.
What is aeration?
At it’s simplest, aeration is just the process of putting holes in the soil to allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate the surface and get to the roots. The primary purpose of aeration is to reduce soil compaction which leads to most issues with your lawns health. Excess lawn thatch or heavy organic debris buried under the grass surface can also starve the roots from these essential elements.
How do I aerate my lawn?
Depending on the size of your lawn, you could use foot spikes, a garden fork or a specialised aerator to aerate your lawn. Most garden stores will stock a range of aerating products from spiked sandals to strap to your shoes, garden forks and spiked rollers. For larger areas, you make need to hire a specialised aerator – they are available from most equipment hire suppliers.
There are two types of aerating tools: a spike aerator and a plug aerator. With a spike aerator, you use the tool to put holes into the ground with the spikes. Plug aerators remove a small core of grass and soil from the lawn.
Before you get started, make sure the soil is moist. Aerating a lawn that is dry and hard is not fun at all. Try to aerate the lawn the day after it rains or when you have thoroughly watered down your lawn. After aerating, it’s important to continue basic lawn care practices such as proper fertilizing, mowing and watering.
How often should I aerate my lawn?
Different soil types require more frequent aeration. Clay soil compacts easily and should be aerated at least once a year. You can aerate a sandy lawn once every year or two. In harsher climates, aerating your lawn twice a year will encourage better turf growth and health.
In spaces where you park a car, have pets or a high amount of traffic on the lawn, compaction can be an issue. Regularly aerating these types of areas is important to ensure the ground doesn’t become too hard and to help the soil to breathe and to encourage lawn growth.
When should I aerate?
The best time to aerate soft-leaf buffalo, couch, kikuyu and zoysia is during spring and summer while they are actively growing. You can aerate in cooler months but remember that the grass is dormant at this time and won’t grow to cover the holes. Aerating just prior to fertilising your lawn is a perfect time – anytime after a big rainfall is great as well, as it will make the process much easier for you.