Aeration is the term used to refer to the process where air is exchanged or circulated between the soil and atmosphere. The process of aerating soil mechanically is called “core aeration” where small plugs of thatch and soil are removed from the lawn to improve natural soil aeration. Core Aeration should ideally be done on a yearly basis but some lawns, especially those that grow on heavy clay or subsoil, may need it more than once each year.
Aside from improved air exchange, core aeration has a lot of other benefits. Core Aeration enhances water absorption, fertilizer absorption, prevents water puddles, reduces compaction of soil, and enhances heat and drought stress tolerance. There are numerous tools that can be used when it comes to aerating your lawn. Among the most common of them all would be the: Spiked Shoes, Fork, Hollowed Tiner, Scarifier, and Slitter.
Strap on spiked soles can be attached to the underside of shoe. This can then be used to aerate the lawn by simply walking through the lawn itself. These do not do a great job of aerating lawns, and can actually have a negative effect on grass if used incorrectly.
A pitch fork is a tool with a long handle and long, thick, widely separated tines or prongs. They are commonly used to lift and pitch agricultural materials such as hay, leaves, straw, etc.
A pitch fork can easily be used to aerate one’s lawn. Simply push the tines of the fork into the lawn till it has reached a depth of 3 inches and then gently move the fork sideways to widen the holes. Lift the fork out of the aerated area and move another four inches from the said space. Push the tines of the fork into the soil and repeat the process until the entirety of the lawn has been covered. This is an effective way to aerate grass, however it is extremely slow and time consuming.
A hollow tiner is a specialized kind of tool which looks very much like a pitch fork except the tiner has hollow tubes rather than spikes. It is a very useful tool for aeration and relieving soil compaction. This tool is used on lawns with highly compacted surface areas.
There are two kinds of hollow tiners. The regular hand held variety is the one used where you manually dig it into the soil much like the process discussed with pitch forks. There are also petrol powered hollow tine aerators that have several rotating drums which total to 30 or more corers. They only go as far as 2 inches deep but are still be able to sufficiently aerate the lawn.
Petrol powered hollow tine aerators are expensive but can be rented. Many people also choose to hire a professional lawn aerator such as Oz Aeration to aerate their lawns for them. A “sports turf” variety offers a more advanced option where a cam action ensures that the spikes penetrate deeper into the lawn. This variety, however, is hard to drive or manipulate and is usually only safe to use on ornamental or stone free lawns.
A wheeled lawn scarifier is used to rake out moss and dead grass or remove thatch from the lawn. There are manually operated scarifiers and there are those that rely on an engine to operate. The price range for an engine operated scarifiers is $1500 to $5000, depending on the make and model.
A slitter is used by running it over the grass and it immediately penetrates through the turf using its sharp blades. The grass roots are then trimmed which enables air pass through.
These tools each have their own specific advantage when it comes to aerating lawns. In order to maximize the use of any or all of these tools, the lawns composition must first be identified in order to match it with the strengths of the tools available. If you want advice on how to aerate your grass, get in contact with a local lawn aerator company and see what they would recommend in your particular circumstance.
If you’d like to know more about the mechanics behind soil aeration and how it all works take a look at this really informative article on how to maintain a pristine lawn.