The main benefits of aeration include
- Reduces soil compaction
- Allows air into the roots
- Improves irrigation (water to the roots) and drainage (reduced likelihood of flooding or waterlogged roots)
- Encourages activity with micro-organisms
- Makes nutrients more effective
- Creates a more hostile environment for moss.
- Reduces thatch build up
- Encourages root growth
Aeration should be carried out at least once a year when the ground is soft. Like scarifying, repeated aeration brings long term benefits for a healthier and easier to maintain lawn.
Aeration for your lawn
Aerating your lawn reduces soil compaction and lets in the air. It allows the proper circulation of air, water and nutrients. Aeration is done with specialised lawn aerator machinery fitted with rolling drums on which are mounted spikes that pierce the grass and soil. The spikes are solid or hollow, depending on the soil type.
Hollow tine aeration is generally preferred as it creates a greater surface area of revealed soil. The hollow tines remove plugs of thatch and soil from the lawn, thus creating evenly spaced cylindrical holes in the lawn which dramatically improve aeration and drainage.
In addition, the tines enter and leave the soil at an angle from the vertical, thus increasing the loosening of the soil below the grass and thatch layers. Oxygen, water and nutrients reach the grass roots more easily, leading to deeper roots and healthier plants.
The mechanical process of aeration also helps break up compacted soil. Compaction is just as it sounds – the grains of soil are pressed ever further together, squeezing out air and creating a physical barrier which roots and water struggle to penetrate. Compaction occurs gradually over time, and especially in areas of heavy usage. Left unchecked, it will lead to poor quality grass which is less resistant to both drought and flood.
When done annually, aeration – especially with hollow tines – helps to address this problem, resulting in healthier, stronger grass and a more robust and attractive lawn.
Solid tines simply punch holes in the lawn and do not remove a plug of soil and thatch. Because of this the holes will usually close up again fairly quickly, so solid tine aeration is more appropriate where an established lawn needs a bit of TLC after a period of heavy use, or in heavy soils like clay in which hollow tines can be less effective. Solid tine aeration does work well in the short to medium term, therefore, and it is a valuable activity to promote lawn health.