Done in the Autumn Fall, aeration is one of the most important factors in keeping your lawn healthy and green as it deals directly with soil compaction and drainage issues.
Aeration by removing “plugs” of soil from the ground helps to break up the compacted soil beneath your lawn.
Aeration can help prevent thatch from building up in the grass.
Aerating your lawn is necessary when you cannot push, or it is extremely difficult to push a screwdriver or skewer into the soil to a depth of 6 inches, anywhere that water puddles after rain for prolonged periods, if the grass is looking thin or patchy and you can see no other is reason, like shade and also if there is often heavy foot traffic in a particular area on the lawn.
To aerate your lawn use a hollow tine aerator, they can be motorized or simply foot operated, a bit like a garden fork but with hollow forks.
If neither are available, then the humble garden fork can be used as a substitute but remember, with a hollow tine, you are actually removing quite a large plug of soil from the ground (about half an inch in diameter and 3 inches long), with a garden fork you are just creating a pencil sized hole (unless you wiggle it about).
Some say you can leave the plugs on the lawn and break them up with a garden rake but I prefer to brush them up and remove them, they can always go on the compost heap or on a border somewhere, no problem.
The reason I remove them is this:- If I am going to all the trouble of aerating my lawn then I am doing it for a reason, more often than not, to improve drainage.
The best way to improve drainage is to add sharp sand or a sharp sand grit soil mix to the soil beneath my grass.
I have noticed that this part of the process is often left out when explaining about lawn aeration, not sure if it laziness or ignorance but essentially adding the sand grit is the most important part of the operation and core aerators were developed for this very reason – To add sand and grit.
This might be seen as an added job but it will benefit the compacted lawn tremendously, far more than just leaving the plugs on the surface.
Easy to do, after aeration, spread some sharp sand or grit out across the top of the lawn in piles, when the weather is dry will be best and then simply either rake or brush (a besom broom is best for this job) out the piles and you will see as you brush the sand or grit disappearing down the holes – as planned.
A good lawn care tip here as this work is normally done in the autumn would be to actually add a little suitable granular autumn lawn fertilizer to the mix.
When I have done this in the pastis I actually used a mix of 20% quality loam, 30% coarse grit, 50% sharp sand and a proprietary autumn fall lawn fertilizer.